We previewed Richard Mitchelson's Grand Tour book back in April, before it was published and before this season's Grand Tours were underway. Here we are at the end of the season, and many of us are looking for something to replace the excitement of following those races – and perhaps this book is the answer, helping you to create your own excitement...
Mitchelson will be known to many for the work he has done with an enviable selection of top tier brands, mostly – but not exclusively – in the cycle trade, and covering products from prints to mugs.
Activity books for adults have grown in popularity in recent years – perhaps given a boost by the theory that the attention required to complete the task distracts you from other worries and helps to reduce stress, and at the same time you boost your creativity and enhance some skills. This is Mitchelson's first book, and he has produced an activity book with a difference: everything has a cycling theme.
More specifically, as the title suggests, the book has a Grand Tour theme. Note that despite the colour of the cover, the book is not limited to the Giro: pink is just a colour that Mitchelson likes and reckons isn't used much, so it should help the book stand out on a shelf.
Several of the activities present in mainstream puzzle books are here, such as a word search – although I doubt many others include the words 'gruppetto' or 'bottom bracket'. Join-the-dot pictures are another staple, with the subjects here being legends of the sport.
Other activities might benefit from the input of others, such as the challenge to design a team jersey, musette, or frame, all within the outlines provided – so you need to create a design first before getting to the colouring in, which is a popular activity in its own right.
The result is a book that needs to be viewed from a different perspective: you can't treat it like a normal book, because there is little to look at (until you have completed some of the activities), and even less to read.
Indeed, Mitchelson's hope is that you 'don't let this book sit on a shelf', because 'it wants you to scribble and use colour in it'. Incidentally, I was surprised to see some 'used' books on offer at Amazon, so you might want to check what that means if you are tempted.
Perhaps the book could be used as a new activity during a gathering of like-minded people, such as your friends or riding mates. The inspiration is provided, you just need the participants to get creative. In my experience, even if everyone is working to the same brief you will get very different results, which is always entertaining.
Although none of the Grand Tours is actually running at present, the reality is that their presence is felt for much of the year in some form: if it is not the pre- or post-race analysis, then it could be the speculation or announcement about the routes – which has in fact already started for next year.
All three Grand Tours will make an appearance of sorts in November as well, at the Rouleur Classic show; if you are lucky enough to be going you will know that each of the three days will be themed around one of the Grand Tours. If you went last year you will also know that many of the riders that star in those races are at the show. Why not take the Grand Tour book along and choose appropriate pages on which to acquire autographs of the great and the good of the sport? After all, I doubt that Mitchelson will mind who it is 'defacing' the book, as long as it's being put to good use.
Helping cyclists make their own entertainment by bringing the creativity of activity books to the world of cycling
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Grand Tour by Richard Mitchelson
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?
From Velodrome Publishing:
Pens replace pneux and pencils are your peloton as the doyen of British cycle illustrators, Richard Mitchelson, leads you on a magnificent ride through an entire season of grand-tour racing. Fun, dynamic, interactive, and entertaining, Richard Mitchelson's Grand Touris infused with a "broom-wagon" full of cycling style, culture, history and humour.
Prepare for the Giro d'Italia by personalizing your race-jersey and cap, or chose to create one of those sported by 'maglia rosa' legends down the years. Select your ride, study the route of the Gran Corsa or just design your own road to Milan. Get creative on the Passo dello Stelvio and 'copy Coppi' with an Il Campionissimo Dot to Dotti. Move on to the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, design your very own 'Grand Boucle' and fill in your race number on the board. Become inspired by colouring the cobblestones of the north's Arenburg forest, paint your name alongside the legends on the scorched Summer climb of the Col de Tourmalet, and quickly unleash some paints or pens to ensure the colours are in place at an old velodrome before the riders arrive. Party with the icons of the sport - Laurent, Bernard, Gino, Bradley, Fausto, Tom, Eddy, Richard, Marco, Sean, Jacques, Greg, Raymond, Miguel - before showing them your true colours as you progress to Spain's famed grand tour, the Veulta a España, the Alto de l'Anglirn and other terrifying Iberian climbs. The finishing line is wherever you want it to be.
Grand Tour is a joyful celebration and an inspired, magical journey through cycling's greatest races. For the ride you'll need some pens, pencils and a devastating amount of cycling 'panache'.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Title: Grand Tour
Author: Richard Mitchelson
Publisher: Velodrome publishing
Date: May 2016
Format: Paperback (with flaps)
Seems to be in line with other activity books.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The pages are large, the activities are given plenty of space, and the book uses thick paper, making it suitable for the intended use.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes: it could make an imaginative present for cyclists.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, certain ones.
Use this box to explain your score
Activity books may not appeal to everyone, but you won't find a better cycling-themed one.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding