Books

The ShortRead: Claire Beaumont & Nigel Peake

The ShortRead of 18 March

Cycling Climbs: Twenty Art Prints

Artwork: Nigel Peake 

Words: Claire Beaumont

What's the story: You're right - no book is ever going to replace the feeling of cresting a hill you've just spent the better part of an hour cycling up. But, thanks to some stunning artwork from Peake and Beaumont's insightful passages, Cycling Climbs is about as close as a coffee table book can get to replicating the experience.

Packed with accounts, tips and details on 20 of the most iconic climbs from the world of cycling, each ride is accompanied by a beautiful illustration from Peake - which can be detached and framed. Guaranteed to get you in the mood for a cycle.

Release date: Out now

Extract

By the time that the Wright brothers had completed their first powered flight, cyclists had already conquered some of Europe’s highest cols. On the heavy, steel-framed steeds of the early twentieth century, this was an achievement that pushed riders to the edge of exhaustion and hysteria. And yet, the early climbing pioneers took to the mountains year after year, looking, as da Vinci prophesized, to the skies, seeking out their next great ride.

For the last century, no matter what the technology, riders have sought enjoyment in toppling mountains. Wind in the hair, cool mountain air on the face and the tantalizing rewards of irresistible views from the summit.

There are many roads that offer opportunities for lofty ascent. My personal favourite is a quiet climb to the commune of Notre-Dame-du-Pré, in the Savoie region of France.

I found it by chance when searching for an alternative to using a busy, traffic-heavy road at the bottom of the Tarentaise Valley between Aime and Moûtiers. Approaching from the west, the road rises swiftly to Longefoy before undulating gently as it passes a few old chairlifts en route to the summit. Once at the top, I remember pausing in the quiet village square for a brief rest – just me and a few errant chickens scuttling around – before diving down the tangled string of hairpins that make up the descent back down to the thunderous N90. A delightful detour that I will never forget.

This is not a compendium that sets out to classify the world’s highest or hardest. Rather, within these wonderfully illustrated pages lie 20 more flight-paths that will delight, inspire and force you to gleefully toil before you can soar.

These routes allow you to follow in the tyre tracks of cycling’s superstars. There are hundreds of high passes to explore, and thousands of hours of race footage in which you can watch the greats conquer them, so I implore you to go out, ride and take flight.