Book Reviews

Northwest Map Service
2010 edition, 152 pages. $24.95.

A map person: I buy maps to plan and speculate, muse and daydream. You know what I’m talking about—that obsessive wonder that comes when you look at those squiggly lines and imagine slopes and steepness, the dense underbrush of a gulley, the sweet vista from a mountain ridge. Although the Bonner and Boundary Country Atlas does not inspire that sort of musing, it’s a relatively inexpensive and reasonably thorough guide to the roads and trails of the uppermost reaches of the Idaho chimney.

The book, printed on heavy stock paper and bound with a plastic spiral, offers good informational lists: of town locations, road locations, trail locations, and the location of various features (including lookout/cabin rentals, hospitals, campgrounds, boat launches and waterfalls). The road index, as well as the GPS grid, seem especially useful for their intended purposes, which leads to the most important question for this book: what reason would compel someone to buy this rather than the Idaho Gazeteer, a similar product that does a great job of blending features from detailed topographical maps with the standard expectations of an atlas (and much more—fishing information, special geological features, trail information)?

It’s all a matter of purpose. This book doesn’t claim the hybrid status of the Gazeteer; it is an atlas aimed at providing detailed road information for urban and rural outings. If one should want to venture into the backcountry, paired with the topographical maps of an area, the B&BCA is a good tool. That verb is paramount and perhaps points to one of the temptations of the Gazeteer; it’s just detailed enough that some might use it to get to the trailhead, glance at the topo features of a hike, and sally forth without a more detailed map—an unwise decision. This book from Northwest Map Service doesn’t offer that illusion and sticks to its single purpose.

Tod Marshall

Philippe Bouvet, Philippe Brunel, Pierre Callewaert, Jean-Luc Gatellier, and Serge Legat
Velo Press, 2010, 223 pages

THE SPRING CLASSICS are a dozen or so European cycling events, many of which date back more than a century. These one-day events, overlooked in the U.S. by all but the most avid followers of cycling, set the stage for the more well known multi-day stage races like the Tour d’France. Usually a couple hundred kilometers long and over terrain unique to each race, the racers are often challenged as much by fickle spring weather as the course itself.

The book’s authors are all veteran cyclists and among the best writers for L’Equipe, Europe’s premier cycling journal. As individuals who have participated in and written about these races over a period of several decades, the authors provide a clear vision of the history surrounding these events. You leave with an understanding of how each race has changed over the decades to accommodate advances in equipment and demands of spectators.

This English edition of the 2007 French publication updates the text to include the three seasons between the French and English printing. The “encyclopedia” of the top finishers in 17 races is updated to include races held after the French issue.

Unlike most large format books, which tend to be photo essays, The Spring Classics is strong on text with a comprehensive essay on each race. Through the hundreds of classic black and white images from the early days of racing mixed with color images from recent decades, the reader sees a comprehensive picture of the changes in racing equipment and conditions; today’s racers will groan just looking at the equipment from even a few decades ago.

The Spring Classics is an easy book to read. With an essay dedicated to each race, one can cover the book at a leisurely pace; a half hour will afford enough time to read an essay and peruse the images associated with it. If you are not already a fan of competitive cycling, The Spring Classics will likely make you one.

Stan Miller

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