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Dennis Ketterling (Colorado)

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Ride a Stage of the Tour De France: The Legendary Climbs and How to Ride Them
Ride a Stage of the Tour De France: The Legendary Climbs and How to Ride Them
by Kristian Bauer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensible for serious cyclists, 23 Sept. 2012
I used this book when I toured the French Pyrenees, with 90 lbs of bags and bike.
My itinerary was:
Col du Portel
Port de Pailheres
Col de Chioula
Plateau de Beille
Col de Port
Port de Lers
Col d'Agnes
Col de Latrape
Guzet Neige
Col de Portet d'Aspet
Col de Mente
Col du Portillon
Col de Peyresourde
Col de Val Louron-Azet
Pla d'Adet
Col d'Aspin
Col du Tourmalet (La Mongie)
Luz Ardiden
Col de Couraduque
Col du Soulor
Col d'Aubisque
Col de Marie Blanque
Col d'Ichere
Col de Soudet
Col de Suscousse

I found the book to be invaluable for its detail for anyone attempting the Pyrenees, and also the Alps,(which I had previously toured with a far inferior Alps guidebook). I found his Alpine chapters just as detailed and helpful, and he includes Jura and Vosges mountain climbs, too.

Bauer lists elevation and gradient information, along with Tour de France categorie designations (such as Categorie 1, Hors Categorie, etc.), and goes into descriptive detail of the nearby towns, the terrain, weather, services, and everything else you need to know when tackling these world-class climbs.

Also included is Tour history so you know the significance when you're standing in the village of Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, by the forge where Eugene Christophe had to repair his own forks in the Tour of 1913. Want to know the exact turn where Ullrich fell and Armstrong waited on the Col de Peyresourde? He gives you the exact spot.

I can't imagine a better resource for your tour of these Tour de France stages, and I only wish he had included all of the Cols and ski stations that I actually rode, but that would have only improved on perfection!

Cycling in the French Alps: Selected Cycle Tours (Cicerone Guide) (Cicerone Guides)
Cycling in the French Alps: Selected Cycle Tours (Cicerone Guide) (Cicerone Guides)
by Paul Henderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.79

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was the best of sources, it was the worst of sources, 23 Sept. 2012
I took this book along on my solo cycling trip in the French Alps, loaded with 90lbs of bike and bags. My itinerary was:
Col de la Ramaz
Col de la Savolière
Col du Ran Folly
Col de Joux Plane
Col de la Colombiere
Col de la Forclaz (Annecy)
Col du Marais
Col de la Croix Fry
Col des Aravis
Col des Saisies
Col de Méraillet
Cormet de Roselend
La Plagne
Col de la Madeleine
Col du Glandon
Col de la Croix de Fer
Col du Télégraphe
Col du Galibier
Col du Lauteret
Les Deux Alpes
Alpe d'Huez
Col d'Izoard
Col de Montgenèvre
Sestriere (Italy)
Colle delle Finestre (Italy)
Col du Mont Cenis
Col de l'Iseran
I found this book a great source for nice photos of the areas covered, and turn-by-turn directions to reach the Cols, but it had some major problems.
The turn-by-turn directions are not really needed! Any map will show how to reach the areas, as the French Alps are a deceptively small geographical area.
Another problem is a lack of an index for the cols. The book has a table of contents with the author's loop configuration for various tours of his devising, but you can't directly find "La Plagne" for instance. You have to look at a map of the loops, figure out which loop has the pass you're looking for, then page through the chapter until you find a reference in the description. His maps are simply awful, a sort of "connect the dots" drawing, with no geography or topography, and the scale of the distances on the maps appears distorted.
There are elevation charts to give one a general idea of the undulations of his routes from day to day. If you take his planned routes, they are continuous, along the bottom of the page, over the number of days each route takes. I don't think most people on a once-in-a-lifetime trip will follow his routes exactly. You'll find yourself jumping from chapter to chapter to map your own route.
Unfortunately, the descriptions of the great climbs of the Alps are prosaic and uninformative. His description of the Col de la Colombiere? "The first part of the ascent, to le Reposoir,is a mere warm-up for the serious work ahead: over the last 8km to the summit the average gradient is almost 9%!" That's it, the entire description of the climb. The Col de la Madeleine? "The climb to the Madeleine is long (25km), but the gradient is quite variable and every few kilometres there are flatter sections where your legs can relax a little." The Col du Galibier? "Whether or not you have the road to yourself, cycling over the Galibier is always a challenge: there are a few easy sections and the last kilometre is the steepest."
I found the book useful for general information on the area, with nice photography, a listing of available facilities and services such as water, as well as shops, cafes, campsites, B&Bs, banks and bike shops (always iffy, as these things change on a continuous basis), but as for good, hard information on the daunting physical challenges of cycling in the Alps, not so good.
However, it is a testament to the lack of any other comprehensive guide to cycling in the Alps, that I have to say this book is almost indispensible if you want to take a cycling trip in the area. I have to give kudos for his effort, but in many frustrating ways, the book is a huge disappointment; but buy it. There is more specific information on many websites, but you won't find anything better in conventional book form.

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