Simon Warren has produced a series of books documenting numerous climbs up and down our fair isle, along with a few in Belgium. His latest, 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of the Tour De France, is for inclines of a somewhat larger scale.
Warren says in his introduction that this book could also be called "The Greatest Cycling Climbs of France", but rightly points out that the Tour is what has made them so famous in cycling circles - and to an extent, famous even outside the world of the bicycle obsessed. The introduction is also a short tale of how Warren toured France in (give or take) a single month of summer 2013 - no doubt logging a rather serious strava elevation total on his way. He includes a couple of stories recounting highs and lows along the way that make for an interesting read and ensure that this book has some personal feeling to it rather than solely being a long and tedious list of various road statistics around France.
Alongside the introduction is a prelude depicting a brief history of the Tour and a romantic description of how climbs are categorised in the Tour, though some give other explanations. There are also a couple of pages devoted to the Marmotte sportive, which Warren describes as the "single greatest day on a bike an amateur can have", something I would personally contest but again it's a nice addition to the book. Finally there is an instruction page to ensure you are reading the book right but to be honest I don't think it's really needed - more on that shortly.
Once you are past these opening pages you come to the main event - 100 climbs in France, all documented and organised rather nicely. The various mountains are grouped together geographically - there is one chapter for the Pyrenees, one chapter for the Jura and so on and so forth. One exception is the Alps that are split into north and south - fair enough really as there are myriad climbs in that area.
The format is the same across all 100 climbs in the book: each gets two pages. The first page consists of a (generally) nice photo, while the opposite page contains a long paragraph with a short history, any particularly critical directions required on the way up, and a description of the best way to ride the climb. Alongside this you get a couple of maps - one large scale to find the climb, and another much closer in, focusing on the road itself. You also are provided with a basic climb profile, a small fact file, some directions to get to the base of the climb itself and finally a rating for the climb out of ten, ten being the greatest.
Other than that, there's not too much to say about this book. Warren's style is easy to read and his experience of actually doing every climb in this book shines through very clearly. The checklist of climbs at the back of the book is excellent holiday bait for a rider like me, and having only done 7 of the 100 I've got some serious work to do.
I like the fact that Warren has not given the smaller, lesser known climbs any less attention than the classic big hitters like Alpe d'Huez or the Ventoux. It makes all the climbs all seem worth looking at, and means I didn't skip over the small cols when flicking through.
Simon Warren has gone to considerable lengths to compile this list of French climbs and it clearly shows. "100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of the Tour de France" is an excellent log of inclines all over the country. It is a fantastic tool for holiday planning and/or finding a climb close to you while out riding your bike in France that you may never have realised was there. I'll definitely be taking it with me next time I visit with my bike.
A useful little guide to pretty much every ascent you could want to do in France
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Make and model: Francis Lincoln Publishers Ltd 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of the Tour De France by Simon Warren
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Frances Lincoln, the publishers, say:
From the Col du Tourmalet to Alpe d'Huez, from Mont Ventoux to Luz Ardiden, these climbs are the beating heart of the Tour de France.
Technology may advance, training and diet may evolve, but these mountains are constant. They have witnessed triumph and despair, courage and heartache, they are where champions are made and where dreams are shattered. And yes, the greatest arenas of the world's greatest race are open 365 days a year for every one of us to ride.
So take up the challenge, emulate your heroes and make your mark on the 100 greatest cycling climbs of the Tour de France.
For each of the 100 climbs this guide includes:
A detailed description of theclimb with an accompanying photograph
A map detailing the start and end of the climb with directions to help you find it.
A factfile with altitude, height gain, average gradient, it's tour debut and category
A difficulty rating
Simon Warren is the author of 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, Hellingen:A Road Cyclist's Guide to Belgium's Greatest Cycling Climbs and Another 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs
I'd expect this book to cost about a tenner so that seems about right.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fact that it wasn't just a boring list of gradients, road names and distances. It's clear the author experienced all the climbs in the book.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not much really.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 21 Height: 182cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: On-One Carbon Whippet Single Speed MTB/Kinesis Pro6 My best bike is: Scott CR1 Pro
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,