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Great Rides According to G is this year's seasonal stocking-filler from Geraint Thomas: it's as easy to read and amusing as you would expect, although there is less of it than with any of his previous works. While nominally about some of his favourite rides, it's really just an opportunity for him to entertain us with more of his anecdotes and observations.
Here we are with the fourth in the 'According to G' series. So far, however, each one has been a bit less worthwhile than the last – and that trend continues here. Committed fans will still welcome it, but even they will surely see this one as the least fulfilling of them all.
Thomas's first book, The World of Cycling According to G, published back in 2015, turned out to be the most wide-ranging and rewarding publication of the four. We didn't review it, but I would have given it 8/10.
The Tour according to G was a reasonable attempt to capitalise on his victory at the 2018 Tour de France. It had a much narrower focus, but was still worthwhile and deserving of its 7/10.
By the time that we got to Mountains According to G in 2020, however, I sensed an element of barrel-scraping going on: 'find a theme to which we can attach G's name' seemed to be the idea. I felt that 6/10 was appropriate.
For Great Rides, the barrel has been further scoured – and I can perhaps understand why. Imagine the situation: the publisher expected a 'G' book for Christmas, and like many of us would no doubt (once again) have hoped it would be The Giro According to G. Unfortunately he came 15 seconds short of the win required to make that a credible offering.
According to G's interview at the recent Rouleur Live show, the publishers were also ready to go with a retirement biography instead – but then he scuppered that by re-signing for another two years. Maybe that one has been pencilled in for Christmas 2025.
What we get instead is a book structured around 16 of G's favourite 'rides from different times in my life and different parts of the world'. It's not really a guide, as there are no maps or proper directions – although he promises that he has 'tried to give you enough information that if you really want to take them on, you will find almost everything you need here'.
Routes around Cardiff, Manchester, Monaco and Italy reflect some of the places he has lived; Tenerife and Granada will be recognisable as popular areas for training camps; team connections are also responsible for South Africa, Australia, and California, amongst others.
However, the routes are really only a vehicle for G's 'random memories' while he charms us in his usual engaging way – just as if you were talking in the pub (which he has been doing a lot of recently).
There is remarkably little overlap with any of the previous books. For example, the Manchester-based route is consciously chosen to keep 'out of the Peaks, [which] denies you the dramas of the Cat and Fiddle climb (see my previous book, Mountains according to G)'.
He has 'picked the brains of esteemed team-mates and friends to add some extra sauce' for some of the rides, but the result is still very much in G's style – or rather, in the style of G as captured so well by long-standing co-writer Tom Fordyce.
If we can accept that the book is mainly a chance for G to wheel out more of his agreeable anecdotes, it doesn't really matter which places have been included – or those that haven't; places such as Box Hill, Glasgow, and Andorra were considered, but didn't make the cut.
The result is that this book is the slimmest yet, with page counts having fallen from 375, through 320 and 250, to the current 220. It would have helped the value for money if some of those other rides had been included. As it is, the practice of 'shrinkflation' is clearly present in more than just groceries.
Still, in a masterful piece of spin the publishers assure us that this means the 'small-size hardback...can slide just as easily into your hand luggage as the back pocket of your jersey'.
There have never been a lot of pictures in G's books, but (like Mountains) Rides has none. Possibly a cost-saving measure – or perhaps time constraints, given the likely stopgap nature of the book?
I like to think that G still has a really good book to come, but will it ever be a definitive end-of-professional-cycling-career opus? In the meantime, he continues to close in on former team-mate Bradley Wiggins' record for the number of different books you can wring out of a cycling career.
The latest musings from one of the sports more entertaining characters
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Great Rides According to G by Geraint Thomas
Size tested: Hardback, 220 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 the Publisher:
Across the UK, into Europe and further afield, these are the training rides, races and journeys closest to his heart. From one-day classics in the Peak District and Snowdonia to the rolling roads of Tuscany and the wide-open vistas of New Zealand's South Island, these are the routes you'll want to ride alongside Britain's favourite cycling superstar.
We ride out with him from his winter home in the south of France, and around his old Tuscan training base as a GB Olympic hopeful at the very start of his career. We take in the valley roads of the Tour de Suisse (overall winner, 2022), and the sinuous coastal roads of Milan – San Remo.
We go long in Mallorca and bounce along the short cobbled secteurs of Belgium; we take in the vineyards around Adelaide and the bright blue skies of southern California.
And we have guest rides too: from world champion Remco Evenepoel and his favourite winter training ride in Calpe, Spain; around Yorkshire, with Olympic mountain bike champion, world cyclo-cross champion and newly crowned winner of Strade Bianche, Tom Pidcock; in the wilds of western Ireland from champion sprinter Sam Bennett.
Twenty rides, twenty adventures you'll never forget. All of this in a small-size hardback that can slide just as easily into your hand luggage as the back pocket of your jersey.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Title: Great Rides according to G
Author: Geraint Thomas
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
As readable as ever.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It has the feel of a last-minute replacement for the book that was originally planned.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Not at full price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Only to real G fans.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a bit less of everything we have seen in the three previous works (except for the price), so the score drops commensurately.
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,