Belper Author Chiz helps you to explore the Peak District on two wheels

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By DarrenHolden | Saturday, May 28, 2011, 09:48

Frustrated because she couldn't find a guidebook to meet her cycling needs, Chiz Dakin wrote her own.

Chiz, a freelance photographer, writer and Cycle Derby trainer who lives near Belper, says: "There are loads and loads of guide books out there that cover really technical mountain biking but the problem is that the average cyclist can end up doing an awful lot of walking with the bike, which kind of defeats the purpose.

"At the other end of the scale you can do a few miles along an old railway trail, out and back. There wasn't really anything that was in between."

There is now.

Cycling the Peak District is a pocket-sized guide featuring 20 rides, starting with an easy 18km around Chesterfield and building up to a hard 51km hill road ride in the Macclesfield area. The book finishes with a five-day "Tour de Peak District" challenge covering 255km. Each route is accompanied by an Ordnance Survey map.

Chiz explains the thinking behind the routes: "It's not really mountain biking, it's using nice country lanes, off-road trails and bridleways. I tend to avoid the technical stuff. Basically I like to ride my bike rather than take it for a walk."

But not all Chiz's planned routes made it into the book.

"Some just didn't exist on the ground, even though they looked good on the map," she explains.

"There was one which looked a lovely little trail on the map, but it had never actually been put in. I got speaking to one of the landowners because I was getting very puzzled trying to find out where this trail went.

"He told me that when the council came to put it in, unfortunately one of the people who disagreed threatened them and told them to go away. But the maps were already done by then."

Others were rejected because they were too difficult.

"There was a lovely route that came down over Coombes Edge but it was just a little bit steep and rough for the book which was unfortunate but you have to make those decisions on the ground when you ride all the routes to test them out."

Cycling the routes took Chiz the whole of last year.

"I loved it, it was great fun; the hard bit is when you come back to write it up and check if the right of way exists. There's quite a lot of conflicting advice out there."

Often Chiz cycled alone, but for some routes she was joined by her husband, Reuben, also a keen cyclist, or friends.

Reuben makes the occasional appearance in the book but not as many as Chiz originally planned.

"I took every single one of the pictures in the book apart from the author photo which I set up myself and then got my husband to press," she says. "There would be a lot more pictures of my husband in the book but he found it very difficult to smile for the camera. It was easier to set up the tripod and the remote control and take a picture of myself, which wasn't what I intended."

But what Chiz enjoyed most about writing the book was, of course, the cycling.

"I really enjoy cycling. I make no claims to being mega fast or mega fit but I absolutely love cycling, it's really good fun.

"The book is a mix of some routes I already knew and enjoyed and some completely new areas; this was an excuse to try them out and I enjoyed finding a whole load of new areas that I hadn't cycled before."

It's difficult for Chiz to name a favourite ride.

"All the routes in the book I've chosen because they all nice and it does cover the whole of the Peak District.

"But I do love the area on top of ****ton Moor near Castleton. And it was great to discover the area around Marsden and Meltham because that was an area I hadn't been to before."

TITLE: Cycling in the Peak District

BY: Chiz Dakin


PRICE: £12.95

This article was written by the Derby Telegraph.



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