Books, Maps & DVDs
On first reading Rob Penn's It's All About the Bike, I wrote that if the shiny bits we all ogle, weigh and covet are affectionately termed the generic bike porn, this book is the equivalent of Delta of Venus: erotica for the cycling fan. It's an account of Penn's search for the perfect bits for his perfect bike, but the joy of the way he has written this is that it's not just techie stuff for technoweenies.
Confessions first. I came to this book from two angles. I read and loved Bathurst's The Lighthouse Stevensons so I was desperate to get her take on things two-wheeled. On the other hand, I wondered if I was the reader she was aiming for after 30 years pedaling, although, hitting page five, it became clear I qualify on the same grounds as Bathurst herself, who wanted to write something for 'the sort of cyclist who liked cycling, and reading, and stories, and had long ago given up any desire to experiment with exogenous EPO.'
Writing an encyclopedia by yourself is a herculean task especially on a subject as diverse as cycling but that's exactly what William Fotheringham has attempted with his Cyclopedia. Does he succeed in his task? Yes he does, this is a fact packed read that you can dip in to or just sit down and keep turning the pages. Does the Cyclopedia encompass everything you could possibly want/need to know about cycling between its yellow covers? No, that would impossible.
A book aimed quite squarely at the complete cycling neophyte, ‘Bicycle’ is designed to be a one-stop shop for anyone starting out on two wheels or as the book's strapline says "Love your bike: the complete guide to everyday cycling".
This super little book gives you a heads up on some of the best climbing to be had in Great Britain. With detailed information on each ascent and an I-Spy style table at the back to check them all off, it's a book that's got a long shelf life.
The climbs are split into sections by area – curiously, there's no East Anglia section! – and for each climb you get a short write up, a little gradient graph with points of interest marked out, a factfile giving you location and stats, and a pic of the road snaking away into the distance.
There's plenty of ways to get mapping on the go these days but still not that many that offer OS mapping. Viewranger is a standalone mobile app that's not supported by a desktop program like Anquet and Memory Map but it's very powerful, and the new generation of smartphones make that less of an issue.
Métier; A job or profession, particularly the one for which a person has the strongest aptitude and most enjoys doing.
The French word ‘métier’ has its Latin root in ‘ministerium’ or ‘service’ and by the time I’d finished reading Le Métier - the seasons of a professional cyclist by Canadian Michael Barry with photographs by Camille J McMillan I was under no illusions about what degree of service it requires to succeed as a professional cyclist.
Anquet maps have been around for a good long while and version 6 of their software is more robust and fully featured than other, earlier incarnations that we've tried. Interaction with a Windows-based smartphone or PDA is simple and the prices are getting more appealing too. The interface can still be a bit slow and clunky at times though.
The wife closed the door as she set off on her 'ladies' night out. kids all tucked up in bed and pizza heating nicely in the oven I sat there, beer in hand, smug in the knowledge that I'd clocked 100 miles round the Isle of Wight and back earlier in the day and now I had a (rare) free few hours to settle down and learn a thing or two about the road between Pau to Col du Tourmalet.
There's myriad ways to plan a route if you're going out for a ride, from not planning at all to having your every move logged by a GPS which bleeps occasionally to tell you what to do next. More and more people are turning to online services to look for routes or to generate their own, and Grough route is another of those services. Currently £1.50 a month to use, Grough intend to make the service free after the Ordnance Survey announce their online mapping jubilee in April. And it's a clever system that works well.