An obscure, self-published book from 2002 has become a Kickstarter success story. Written by British cyclist Fred Wright, the book Rough Stuff Cycling in the Alps raised over €23,000 to facilitate a reprint.

The surprise success of the initiative means a new and wider audience can access the collective wisdom of generations of earlier riders. These riders “headed into the high peaks armed only with touring bikes and canvas rucksacks, sandals and floppy hats, crossing mountain ranges and joining up towns and famous cols on little-known gravel tracks, dirt trails and even icy climbs(!)”

Fred Wright’s original book

The original book contained nearly 300 routes, ranging from easy unsurfaced roads at little more than 1000m, to steep footpaths above 3000m. The routes stretch from the southern French Alps through Switzerland, the Dolomites and the Austrian Tirol.

Thanks to the Kickstarter campaign, the publisher of “adventures in illustrated books” called Isola Press could reprint the book. They added extra photographs, updated (paper) maps, and added a new introduction; in short, they made a major refresh.

The cover of the new edition

This was gravel riding before it was invented, mountain biking before it became commonplace. It was written by pioneers who noted down every detail of their journeys in the age before the online world took over our lives.

Now we can all enjoy this beautiful labour of love. With the addition of new, updated material it can also provide a handy companion to those of us with the time and inclination to ride into the hills and off the beaten track.

Even if you’re not planning to take the high road in the near future, this book is also the perfect fantasy armchair read for every breed of cyclist. It contains all the information about where we want to be: with our bikes, with basic resources, up mountains.

Want to order the book? Check out Isola Press.