The Rides Volume 2 continues the good work started by the first volume, which is to take one of the highlights from Cyclist magazine, the Big Rides, and give the very best of them even more lavish treatment in a big glossy book. It worked last time, and it has again here.
The rationale behind The Rides books remains the same: to bring to your attention some "classic climbs, unexplored back roads and breathtaking landscapes"; use some spectacular imagery, and hope that it "inspires you to plan your own escapes". I have certainly included the rides from Cyclist in planning my own forays into Europe, and it doesn't look like they are running out of inspiring destinations yet.
This second volume is noticeably fatter than the first, which made me think it must have more rides in it. In fact, there are 30, compared to 32 first time around. Okay, so it must have more pages then? No, it's the same at 258.
The difference in bulk is down to a thicker paper: the first volume certainly wasn't lacking in production values, but at 157 gsm the second one's pages feel a bit thicker and more substantial, taking the impression of quality up another level. It's just what you would hope for from a proper 'coffee table' book.
Everything that I said about the first volume applies equally here, in that all the routes are repeats, having been seen before in various guises. However, having now had access to both the magazines and the first book for the last two years, I find myself returning to the book and not the magazines when looking for ideas – partly because its presentation is more attractive, but mainly because there is an index to help find specific locations more quickly.
I sometimes mark various rides as they appear in the magazines, hoping that I will remember about them when I am planning a trip to that area. So it was that I knew about the old road that bypassed the undesirable tunnels on the Colle del Nivolet, and was able to assess the state of the road surface on Colle del Finestre before my recent visits. However, it would have been a lot easier to have this book to hand – both of those climbs are present, and it would have made it easier to return to the information.
In some months there might be a ride in the magazine that doesn't strike you as being that interesting at the time, so you forget about it – but I find that it is always worth checking to see what else is on offer (beyond the obvious highlight) in any area you are visiting. Once again, even those with access to the original routes in the magazines will probably find the books more usable for that purpose.
You might not be aware of other decent rides in the same area as Mont Ventoux, for example, but they do exist, and a quick look at the map in The Rides will reveal an option. As the introduction says, "Leave Ventoux for the masses – discover the splendours of the Gorge de la Méouge instead" – although I would say "as well" would be more appropriate.
Sometimes Cyclist will revisit an area for a ride that might seem rather similar to a previous route, but offers something different: although it might appear as if there were some overlap between each volume, no owner of volume one will feel short-changed by any duplication in volume two.
Tenerife appears in both volumes, for example, and any visit there is always going to include Mount Teide. However, by starting on the other side of the island, and doing the route in reverse, it is a different experience. Other repeat visits include Majorca, where I felt that the second visit produced the better route – or try a blend of both if you want the ultimate experience.
As the magazine approaches its 100th issue, the quality of the routes and associated scenery hasn't dipped at all; what has changed a little is the locations, with the 'traditional' destinations around Europe being scaled back a bit to allow for trips further afield. The result is a new category of routes from the 'Rest of the world' in Volume 2: these range from those you might expect, such as Colorado and Hawaii, through to the unexpected, such as Ethiopia and Israel.
As before, all the routes are available online, and can be downloaded for use on a GPS device.
Even if you have no plans to ride any of the routes, you can just appreciate the magnificent scenery on offer: the images are a major attraction of the magazine articles, but here the extra space and gloss is used to show them off to maximum effect. There are a lot of places where I may never manage to cycle, but I can still enjoy the dramatic landscapes by proxy.
Another selection of aspirational rides to encourage you out on the bike – or simply appreciate from your armchair
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cyclist The Rides Volume 2
Size tested: 258 pages
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
From Dennis Publishing:
Volume 2 of The Rides brings together 30 of the finest road cycling rides in Europe and beyond. These include classic climbs such as the Col de l'Iseran, the Gavia and the Croix de Fer, and must-visit destinations such as Mallorca and Tenerife. But also there are undiscovered riding gems such as the Faroe Islands, Montenegro, Ethiopia and Israel.
This beautiful coffee table book is packed with stunning images from some of the world's best photographers, and all the route maps are available to download.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Title: The Rides – volume 2
Publisher: Dennis Publishing
Date: November 2019
The big, abundant, colourful images.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Limited printed mapping information if trying to follow a route.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, selectively.
Use this box to explain your overall score
No reason to change my view from last time: the book does its job well, and even subscribers to the magazine should feel that it offers something extra.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding