Climb and Ride:
Two "Cyclist" Books

Title:                Climb

Author:            Cyclist Magazine

Publisher:        Mitchell Beazley

Date:                6/10/22

Format:            Hardback

Pages:              224

ISBN:                9781784728090

Price:               £30

Reviewed by Richard Peploe

Cyclist – Climb

Book credit: Cyclist – Climb: The most epic cycling ascents in the world is published by Mitchell Beazley (£30)

Image credit: Photography by Patrik Lundin

Cyclist – Climb Book credit: Cyclist – Climb: The most epic cycling ascents in the world is published by Mitchell Beazley (£30) Image credit: Photography by Patrik Lundin

Cyclist – Ride 

Book credit: Cyclist – Ride: The greatest cycling routes in the world is published by Mitchell Beazley (£30)

Title:                Ride

Author:            Cyclist Magazine

Publisher:        Mitchell Beazley

Date:                3/9/20

Format:            Hardback

Pages:              224

ISBN:                9781784726874

Price:               £30

Reviewed by  Richard Peploe

Here are a couple of books that might help with the planning of your cycling holidays - if you fancy a bit of a challenge. Failing that, the wonderful images and captivating writing remind you why travelling by bike is such a good way of seeing interesting parts of the world.

Since Cyclist magazine launched in 2012, every issue has included a ‘Big Ride’ - and every account of those rides has been entertaining, inspirational, and informative. The entertainment comes from the narrative of the day’s ride (which doesn’t always go according to plan); the inspiration comes from a selection of superb images (even when conditions are ‘atmospheric’ rather than sunny); and the information is supplied by advice on logistics and a simple map (with a link to acquire a GPS-friendly download of the route).

Later on, this was joined by a ‘Classic Climb’ every month, focussing on the single aspect of a route that can make epic rides so memorable. 

Starting in 2017, a lot of that material has been modified and re-presented in various books: the aim is to introduce their work to a new audience, rather than sell the same information to readers of the magazine for a second time.

First up were two volumes of ‘The Rides’, covering 62 routes between them. These are the most ‘coffee table’ orientated of the books, taking advantage of the big glossy pages to show the magnificent images off to best effect, supported by helpful captions. By contrast, the writing and information has been pared right back to the minimum. 

The next book is one that we are reviewing here, called ‘Ride’ https://www.octopusbooks.co.uk/titles/cyclist/cyclist-%e2%80%93-ride/9781784726874/ . It has a slight change of emphasis: the image count is much reduced (and those that remain lose all captions), but a lot of the original writing returns. It provides more of the practical information that you expect to find in a route guide - and plenty of encouragement to get out there yourself. 

The 50 rides on offer have wide geographic spread: obviously there’s a selection from the traditional European destinations (such as France and Italy), but space is also given over to less predictable countries (such as Cyprus and Vietnam). There are also 13 routes from the four countries of the UK, which confirm that you don’t always have to travel far afield to experience challenging (and picturesque) riding conditions.

The claim is that “The choice is yours. All you need is a bicycle” – but that is not strictly true: you couldn’t rely on the rudimentary map for directions, and there is nowhere to access a GPS download, so you will still need something to help with navigation. 

Cyclist Ride spread pages book cycling

Based on my own experience of riding in many of the areas covered, I would say that the routes cover many of the best cycling roads in an area, so I doubt that you would be disappointed with any of them. That’s to be expected, because Cyclist often team up with local guides who are keen show off the best bits of their patch – especially when some of them have a tourism-related business in the area. Everyone has the same objective: maximise your enjoyment.

Sometimes you won’t follow someone else’s route exactly: whether it be distance, direction, or something else, your priorities or abilities may be different. I will often take some guidance from other people’s activities, even if I don’t follow a route exactly – and I don’t find many better sources for ideas than Cyclist.

However, the main thing that I look for in my holiday planning is interesting climbs, which does seem to be a speciality of the magazine - and, indeed many cyclists, as well as myself. This leads us to the latest release, 'Climb’ https://www.octopusbooks.co.uk/titles/cyclist/cyclist-climb/9781784728090/.

The team at Cyclist used their time during lockdown to put together a list of their top 100 climbs https://www.cyclist.co.uk/in-depth/8043/introducing-the-cyclist-100-classic-climbs : the 35 on offer in ‘Climb’ are drawn from that list – and in particular from the more challenging end. Nothing from the UK makes the cut. 

Again, based on my own experience of having ridden the majority of climbs featured, not only will they be the most interesting ascents in the area, it will be invariably be worth your while to seek them out.

 

If we look at Majorca as an example, ‘Ride’ has a route that takes in many of the interesting climbs and worthwhile roads on the island, making for a well-proven course that will be familiar to many sporting cyclists. The highlight of the ride is the road to Sa Calobra - and it is (quite rightly) one of the hills covered in more detail in ’Climb’. 

Cyclist Climb Sa Calobra Route ride cycling review

In fact, the only thing now missing is a detailed route description or any GPS information – which is unlikely to be a problem: once you get to a climb there are rarely any decisions to make about the course, as there’s normally only one road to follow. 

My preferred publications for researching interesting climbs are ‘Mountain High’ and its companion ‘Mountain Higher’, which give me a good combination of imagery and writing. I would say that ‘Climb’ sits comfortably alongside those two. ‘Climb’ might have the advantage in imagery, but the others have a more detailed gradient profile – and the benefit of describing all sides of a climb (where they exist, so not applicable to dead-ends like Sa Calobra). However, in ‘Climb’, the magazine writers describe their own experience of riding the climb, whereas ‘High’ and ‘Higher’ concentrate on its history: it’s just a different emphasis.

 

It has taken 10 years for anything to challenge ‘High’ and ‘Higher’: let’s hope that we don’t have to wait as long for ‘Climb - volume two’.

REVIEW PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2022

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