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Get Your Guidance by the Book


Books, of course, are another source of expert guidance. General works on everything from in-line skating to running technique are legion--and the shelves of local outdoor-gear shops are lined with a growing number of local guidebooks.

These aren't how-to guides, but where-to guides, focusing mainly on places for hiking, road cycling and mountain biking.

The latter category is probably the fastest growing. The newest addition is "Mountain Biking Orange County" (Chockstone Press, $12.95), a handsome, information-packed and easy-to-use work that might set a new standard for local guidebooks.

The authors are Randy Vogel and Larry Kuechlin, county mountain biking enthusiasts who decided they weren't satisfied with the available local guidebooks. So, in can-do fashion, they did one of their own.

Vogel is no stranger to guidebooks. He has written 15 rock climbing guides, and is in addition a leading advocate on climbing access issues in Southern California. The mountain bike project was a new wrinkle, however.

"In a climbing guide, you don't necessarily go out and climb every route. In fact, far from it," Vogel said. For the new guide, however, either he or Kuechlin--or both of them--tried out each of the dozens of rides.

"Either myself or Larry rode every little thing in the book, sometimes more than once. We took [mileage] measurements on everything.

Maps and directions in the book are clear. Also, each ride is rated for overall quality, for strenuousness (the "grunt factor") and for technical difficulty.

"It allows anyone to pick up [the book] and look at a particular ride, and get a gauge of what they're getting into," Vogel said. "It really makes the process of going out and exploring a lot more straightforward."

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