…but were afraid to ask? Well, perhaps not. But if you do want to find out almost anything about the Tour de France, here is a good place to start, or rather two good places to start. I was sent the two books shown here by the publishers a few weeks ago just as I was starting to write about my own experiences of climbing Mont Ventoux last summer (read about it in my book from July!). It was great serendipity as they have been extremely useful in researching not just that specific climb but lots of other climbs in the case of ‘100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of the Tour de France‘ and more generally about the Tour de France in ‘The Complete Book of the Tour de France‘. The latter tome is a little daunting as it is so thick but once you realise that you can pick it up for ten minutes, choose a year and then read up about what happened, it suddenly becomes much more accessible. Once you’ve read about all one hundred tours to date (that may take some time…) you’ve got a cracking cycle-themed door stop. Each race is described with a few pages of prose and then there’s a statistical breakdown of the stages, distances, winners etc… and is full of interesting stories about the goings on both on and off the road. The price is as hefty as the book itself – £25 – but you’ll certainly get £25 worth of reading out of it. The other book is more pocket-sized but equally engrossing. It splits the mountainous regions of France into five; the Pyrenees, the Massif Central, the Vosges, the Jura, the Alpes du Nord and the Alpes du Sud. The one hundred climbs that are listed in the book have all been part of the Tour de France at some stage over the last one hundred years or so, many of them being regular features of the race. An example being, of course, the Mont Ventoux. There is a short description of the mountain in question and then a useful fact file with they key statistics of the climb. Should you be sufficiently motivated, there is a tick list at the back of the book where you can record your own successes cycling up the mountains. It might take you a while… There are also interesting sections about how the author – Simon Warren (who incidentally is also speaking at the Yorkshire Bicycle Show in July – see previous post) – went about cycling all the mountains as well as a light-hearted ‘spectator’s guide to a day in the mountains’ for those who prefer to watch rather than pedal. I wonder if a future updated version of the book will include any of the Yorkshire climbs of 2014. We shall see…
Both are great reads and have found their own corner on my coffee table to keep me amused when I have the spare ten minutes and want to dream of France, the mountains and cycling. A couple of years ago someone told me that lots of cycling books are published in May and early June so as to be available for Fathers’ Day which is coming up soon. Well, if you are looking, you might have just found what you are searching for. Here’s the full information about both books from the publishers:
Not wishing to be too pedantic but that’s 6 regions.