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The Complete Guide to Climbing (By Bike) Perfect Paperback – July 1, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


So if you are that dude or dudette who is seeking to climb some of the craziest passes in the United States and don't know how to go about it, then you need this book. Consider it the Bible if you will, because it has all the major road climbs and details about each from Lincoln Gap to Brasstown Bald. All the details are there: total elevation, average gradient, length and category. A few scenic shots are included as well as a map of the surrounding area so you can actually find the road. It's a cool book that should be kept in your glovebox, or in your back pocket if you are that crazy to seek each one by bike. Mmm...Not a bod idea! --Road Magazine

I enjoyed your book and will use it during my USA travels - Chris Carmichael, personal coach of 7 time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

Just as fishermen like to discuss their last be catch, so road cyclists love to talk about their last big climb. Inevitably, the conversation turns to the longest, steepest and most difficult, with experts often comparing their local leg bender with L'Alpe d'Huez. But these discussions inevitably end inconclusively - unless you have a copy of...The Complete Buide to Climbing (By Bike) - John Wilcockson, Velonews --Chris Carmichael

This book is a must for any cyclist. It contains so much great information on the epic climbs that we can find in our own backyard, there is almost no need to ever go to France to ride. I highly recommend this book - Bicycle.net.

Have you ever wondered what are the toughest paved climbs in America? The Complete Guide to Climbing (By Bike)...is a must read for anyone aspiring to ride the biggest and hardest climbs in the US - Bruck Hildenbrand, Bikeradar.com.

Let me start by saying, if you love climbing you must have this book. All in all a long awaited resource book for any passionate cyclist, and if you fancied yourself as a climber, or that is what you hope to be, then you must have this book - George Chester, USA Cycling Coach.

Author John Summerson has written a must read book for climbing aficionados, race directors and those that aspire to test themselves on the biggest climbs in the U.S. - DailyPeloton.com --DailyPeloton.com

About the Author

In addition to an avid cyclist, the author is a research associate and exercise physiologist at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

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Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Brigham Distributing; 1st edition (July 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979257107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979257100
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,119,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christoher O'keefe on January 10, 2008
Format: Perfect Paperback Verified Purchase
So many times I had to look online to find out the grade of tough climbs and wonder if the answer was exaggerated, or the author knew what they were talking about. So many times I heard people say a climb was tougher than "Ventoux" or similar. This book takes the best climbs in the US and compares many to the climbs of the Tour and breaks them down into toughest 1 mile, 2 mile and 5 mile sections. I have climbed many of these including Old Priest Grade and was happily surprised to know my suffering was for a reason as it is one of the steepest in the US. This book is great. Fun to read and makes you dream of a 6 month road trip where you would climb each and every single one.
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Format: Perfect Paperback
The Complete Guide to Climbing by Bike is a guide to cycling climbing and a unique review of the most difficult hill climbs in the U.S. This data has not been available previously in one place which is a big help. Its introduction and following sections lead the reader into why climbing is the most important (and perhaps most diffcult) aspect of the sport. The sections on training, while brief, really gets to the truely important aspects of how to improve one's climbing ability. The climbing perfomances section, which include many unknown exploits, can inspire even bike flatlanders to take on America's toughest hills.

Most of the book is devoted to the most challenging climbs in the U.S. Each is described in detail including the total elevation gained, length, average and maximum grade and a rating. Maps and directions will lead you right to each climb and a short description of each lets the reader know what to expect on the way up. Appendices contain what must be the most complete cycling climbing database and includes multiple climb rankings in varous categories and climb profiles which I think will appeal to cyclists.

Overall this is an excellent resource for cyclists and contains very detailed statistics on Americ's most difficult climbs. A good read and database.
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I was a little disappointed when I received this book because the focus of this book is really the west coast. If, like me, you live east of the Mississippi, don't expect to find many climbs within hundreds of miles of you. The sub-title should have been most difficult climbs in Western US with a few thrown in for the east-coasters.

The number of climbs in states are: MA-2; NH-1; NY-1; VT-5; GA-1; NC-6 and these 16 rides are it east of the MS. For the western states: AZ-5; CA-72; CO-14; HI-5; NV-6; NM-2; OR-3; UT-12; WA-2; and WY-7. Even in the Hill Climb Races section, the Core States bike race in Philly that includes the (in)famous Manayunk Wall isn't mentioned. I know the hills are where they are and not evenly distributed, but it would be nice if Summerson would have included some hills from other states for broader interest. It's entertaining to read about far-away hills, but not as much fun if it's not practical to visit them and challenge yourself against them.
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This book is a decent review of several climbs in the US but it is hardly "complete." The useful information in this book could easily be cut down to a couple magazine articles and it would probably have better flow than the book the authors produced. The authors focus only on the most notorious climbs in the US. If you have a subscription of Bicycle Magazine, you've probably already read about these. The section on "climbing technique" is very rudimentary and only a couple pages long. Again, you'll get more useful information from a good magazine subscription.

The organization of the book also leaves a great deal to be desired. The profiles of the various climbs are located in the back of the book, apart from the description of the climb. The descriptions are VERY brief, and more information can be gleaned from the profiles than the brief descriptions. The longest description in the entire book is for Mt Washington and it's less than a page. The descriptions come across as what the authors remember most about the climb, several months after the fact. It's obvious they didn't sit down right after the climb to describe it, because they leave out so many important details. Even using their descriptions to find the climbs would be difficult.

Just the appearance of the book is lackluster. Most of the book uses black and white photos and very simple drawings and maps to describe the routes. There are a couple of color photos but they're just piled into the middle of the book with poor notation. It looks like it was organized by a 12 year old.

This is not to say the book doesn't have a few merits. I enjoyed the lists of the most challenging or steepest climbs in the US, but even those lists seem to be incomplete.

I personally wouldn't recommend paying full price for this book. If you can get a good price on it though, it's not a bad reference to have on the shelf.
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I am old and heavy but I still love going UP. I needed a guide to help find climbs and a true rating of one over the other. THE 100 Toughest USA Road Bike Climbs page is worth the price of the book! I have climbed Mt. Washington (#1) 3 times - Equinox (#7) - WhiteFace (#16) - Evens (#20) - Auscutney (#31) and Burke (#50) from the top 50. They are rated correctly - also Mitchell at #85 and Brasstown Bald at #82 are correct in the ratings after climbing them. Note Brasstown Bald is an inflated climb due to the tour - he rates it as a 2.14 Cat 1 - not the Tour of Georgia HC. The maps are great and the directions on how to start the climbs are priceless - you can NOT GET THIS INFORMATION anywhere else. If you are looking to DO climbs and not long winded descriptions of how to or what it looks like GET THE BIBLE!!! This book has changed my vacation planning. Next month is the Death Ride for me and 3 more passes from the book.
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