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I live at the beach, but I dream of the mountains

For many cyclists the Northern Alp's hold a special place in their attachment to the sport. They have been the scene of some of the sports most dramatic moments; careers made, and lost, on their slopes. With their new book, Great Road Climbs of the Northern Alps, Graeme Fife and Rapha take on the daunting task of capturing not just the raw data but the history, emotion, and beauty of a special area of the world.

For the novice the book is, at first, overwhelming. An avalanche of information, images, facts and figures. It takes time to digest. Over time though it becomes more inviting, a convenient reference source for planing the next adventure or motivation for the next event. If rainy, cold days bring memories of Pantani on the Galiber, struggling with his rain cape, then you you will eagerly devour the vast amount of information.  Fife incorporates many of these great race moments into his story, giving the fan a personal connection to the region. 

A recurring narrative is the role the area played in French resistance efforts in World War II. Fife's detailed, often philosophical, prose on these events adds a gravitas to the region that reaches far beyond the majesty of the terrain. These stories are sprinkled through the book as they intersect with the historic climbs leaving the reader with a much deeper understanding of the impact of these events and the metal of the local residents. 

Pete Drinkell has captured some impressive images for the book. Along with the obligatory open roads and jagged peaks he also captures the local architectural and commerce. My only complaint is I would have like to have seen more of his great work. 

The book is rich with cultural, historical, and political content at it's core it is a reference source. Key information is given for each climb. Gradient, distance, altitude gained, often with multiple options for mountains with more then one ascent. In addition Fife includes suggestions for food, lodging, rest areas and water. The level of detail is impressive, all the way down to guidance on the ever changing road conditions

For some it will take time to appreciate the value of this level of detail but ultimately Rapha has delivered another mandatory addition to the cyclist bookshelf, one that will be appreciated and referenced for years to come.
If you want to buy the book then go here http://www.rapha.cc/great-road-climbs-of-the-northern-alps

Review by the Race Radio https://twitter.com/TheRaceRadio