Classic Cycling Race Routes – Chris Sidwells

9780749574109I’m sure that anyone who knows me will be at least a little startled to see me reviewing this book.  I do own a bike but, due to my extreme reluctance to ride it anywhere that has hills, watercourses or other people, I really don’t use it very much.  In fact I think the last time was Easter 2013 when I managed to fall into a snowdrift on the Monsal Trail, which is a step onwards from the time I fell off a Boris bike in Hyde Park, and I don’t really see me getting back on any time soon….However, I am not immune to all the excitement around Yorkshire’s involvement in the Tour de France and know many keen cyclists so I thought I would have a look and see if I could become inspired.

I think it is fair to say that, although this is a pretty sumptuous book – full of maps, technical advice and photos – I’m not likely to be doing any of the rides.  But I am fairly certain that at some point I will be planning walks in the vicinity of a route which I can do while Rob cycles the route itself.  The scenery alone would make it worth it – and I will be convincing myself that I will see it in far more detail on foot than I ever would on two wheels!  I am also sure that we will go along to watch the brave souls who do take part in these races – all the dates and website links are included in the text – and will have an even greater respect for their achievements since we will know what they have had to overcome throughout the whole route.

Rob had a more detailed look at the first few chapters of the book, which deal with the more technical aspects of preparing for these rides, and had this to say:

“The introductory chapters of the book give a good expectation for the expected skill level for these rides, in that they set out the basic equipment needed, the steps to create a training plan and the nutrition plan a rider should follow. The lessons here are not to skimp on details – for these rides, you are recommended to have a proper road bike, the right clothing from helmet to toe, and to have your bike position professionally set up.

“The training chapter is particularly technical. As a more casual rider (hybrid bike, 40-50 miles on a good day), reading the chapter had a lot of new lessons for me and had the potential to put me off – 6 levels of training intensity, seven key ingredients and two key scenarios to get to grips with.  But that said, the instruction is clear throughout and I felt I could follow it – this is a guide for cyclists who want to challenge themselves, so this is how sports cyclists do it and this is the discipline needed.

“The nutrition chapter is also a dense but clear package of information, going as far as detailing the grams of protein and carbs the cyclist needs before, during and after, and it sets out the options you have for meeting these through gels, energy bars and drinks as well a more traditional foodstuffs.”

All in all I think we agree that this is a great book for the serious cyclist – it will give you routes to aspire to, in the UK and Europe, and will also help you to achieve those aspirations.

Jane & Rob



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