Best cycling books 2016

Best cycling books 2016 DEFAULT

RCUK&#;s Christmas Gift Guide 11 must-have cycling books


Must-read cycling books of the year to add to your Christmas wishlist

December is racing along and the countdown to Christmas is ticking down rapidly, but what’s on your Christmas list and what should you buy the cyclist in your life?

We’re beginning our round-up of the best Christmas gifts available and what better place to start than with a Christmas gift staple &#; books. Luckily, cycling is a sport which lends itself to great books, with inspiring tales and stunning photography.

From training to travel to autobiographies, it’s been another rich year for cycling literature. Here are 11 of the must-have cycling books from

Ultimate Etapes: Ride Europe’s Greatest Cycling Stages &#; Peter Cossins

What’s on your cycling bucket list? From the Flandrien cobbles to iconic Alpine ascents, we all have epic rides we’d love to undertake given the chance.

And Peter Cossins’ Ultimate Etapes is a brilliant round-up of some of the best riding available in Europe with one common theme – all the routes used have previously been ridden as stages of some of the continent’s biggest races.

From &#;The Yorkshire Rollercoaster&#; &#; the second stage of the Tour de France &#; to stage 17 of the Tour, which finished atop Alpe d’Huez, Ultimate Etapes continues some of the most memorable cycling routes out there.

It’s not just the Tour de France used as inspiration either &#; all three Grand Tours are included, alongside classics such as the Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Strade Bianche, and other stage races like the Tour of Britain and Deutschland Tour.

Each section includes a detailed route guide, a closer look at the climbs on offer, stunning photography and advice on other riding in the vicinity of each stage, making this book a must if you’re already planning your rides.

Buy it now: Amazon (£20), Waterstones (£20)

Chris Boardman: Triumphs and Turbulence

A trailblazer on the bike, both on the track and road, and one of cycling’s keenest students, Chris Boardman has played a key role in the rise of British cycle sport.

As a rider, he was a star of the sport at a time when Brits on bikes &#; at least in the professional sense &#; were few and far between.

After an illustrious career on the bike which included three Tour de France stage wins, Boardman became an important figure in British Cycling’s Secret Squirrel Club and now runs his own bike brand, as well as being a passionate cycling campaign.

Boardman, in short, is an interesting character, and his long-awaited autobiography is a chance to get the inside track on his life in cycling.

From hour records to Tour de France yellow jerseys; marginal gains to his own eponymous bike brand; Boardman has been there, done that and has some very interesting tales to tell as a result.

Buy it now: Amazon (£)

Laura Trott & Jason Kenny: The Inside Track

Jason and Laura Kenny are Great Britain’s golden couple, with ten Olympic gold medals between them &#; five of which were won in Rio in the summer.

Laura Trott had already become Britain’s most successful female Olympian, winning her second gold of the Games and fourth of her career, as TV cameras honed in on her, still in the track centre, barely able to watch as her then fiancé, and now husband, bid to make history of his own in the keirin.

Victory for the Bolton-born sprinter, after two false starts, confirmed his place as Britain’s joint-most successful male Olympian but that only tells half the story after a gripping, nerve-wracking finale to the Rio track cycling for British sporting fans.

The Inside Track, co-written by the couple, is exactly that – the inside story of the pain, sacrifices and rewards of two of the greatest Olympians the country has produced.

Buy it now: Amazon (£), Waterstones (£)

The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Along the Iron Curtain Trail – Tim Moore

Tim Moore is back, having already written of the many trials and tribulations which came from cycling the entire route of the Tour de France and then recreating the notoriously difficult Giro d’Italia &#; century-old bike and all.

French Revolutions and Gironimo! were both very popular books, but far from resting on his laurels Moore has got back in the saddle for some more reckless inspiration.

This time, it’s the iron curtain he’s taking on and &#; of course &#; there’s a twist. That being his decision to ride it on a vintage East German shopping bike.

If you enjoyed reading about Moore’s travails in France and Italy, chances are you’ll love this too.

Buy it now: Amazon (£), Waterstones (£)

Colouring the Tour de France

And now for something a little different, if you’re expecting to find yourself at a loose end, too full of Christmas dinner to move or just bored of small talk with the aunt and uncle you only see once a year…

Colouring the Tour de France is exactly as it sounds &#; another addition to the increasingly-popular adult-friendly colouring books hitting the book store shelves.

And as far as colour goes, the Tour de France has it in abundance – from the yellow, green and polka dot jerseys to the stunning landscapes the race passes through and the throngs of fans at the roadside.

With contributions from William Fotheringham, it will fill in a few hours while you wait for summer to return at least…

Buy it now: Amazon (£), Waterstones (£)

Ride Strong: Essential conditioning for cyclists &#; Jo McRae

RCUK readers will be familiar with Jo McRae’s coaching and conditioning expertise thanks to her columns on this very site.

The importance and the benefits of off-the-bike work when it comes to your performance on the bike are becoming well known, and Jo’s book, Ride Strong is the essential guide to exactly that.

If you have big plans for , the comprehensive book is a must as it offers advice on improving flexibility, core and strength.

You&#;ll find a look at the important exercises to do, and how to mix cross-training into your cycling programme, making this is an important training guide for cyclists.

Buy it now: Amazon (£), Waterstones (£)

Crapper Cycle Lanes

Crapper Cycle Lanes is billed as the ‘sequel we never wanted to publish’, but unfortunately &#; nine years after Crap Cycle Lanes was first published &#; there’s enough to fill another book.

Crapper Cycle Lanes runs the rule over the &#;investment&#; in cycling infrastructure and cycle lanes, and highlights those which make you question how and why they even came to be.

It’s a ‘tear-your-hair-out’, ‘laugh or you’ll cry’ collection, but in a world of chaos and confusion it’s nice to have a chuckle.

Plus, as an added bonus, stick it in your rucksack and next time your questioned as to why cyclists don’t use cycle lanes, you have the perfect riposte.

Buy it now: Amazon (£), Waterstones (£)

The Science of the Tour de France: Training secrets of the world’s best cyclists &#; James Witts

Training techniques to nutrition strategy; cutting-edge gear to Formula One telemetry &#; there’s no stone left unturned when it comes to improving performance at pro level.

James Witts has uncovered the science behind what makes the WorldTour pros successful, with contributions and insights from the likes of sprinting superstar Marcel Kittel and double world champion Peter Sagan.

It’s not just the pros who can benefit from such advice &#; this is as much a training guide as it is information book. Sports scientists, coaches, nutritionists and chefs have all revealed some of the secrets of the trade &#; definitely one to buy if you want to take your training to the next level.

Buy it now: Amazon (£)

Jens Voigt &#; Shut Up Legs!: My Wild Ride On and Off the Bike

Jens Voigt became a cult hero on the bike and the German&#;s catchphrase, &#;Shut up legs&#;, has become deeply entrenched in cycling parlance.

Voigt started 17 consecutive Tours de France between and , riding into his 40s but never losing his penchant for attacking and beating the pain barrier to put the peloton through the grinder.

Shut Up Legs! examines the ups and downs of his long career, with Voigt telling the tell of his life on and off the bike, which began behind the Berlin Wall in East Germany and included a four-year stint in the army.

As popular off the bike as he was on it, Voigt’s autobiography is a must-buy.

Buy it now: Waterstones (£)

The End of the Road: The Festina Affair and the Tour that Almost Wrecked Cycling &#; Alasdair Fotheringham

The d-word refuses to go away in cycling, but in it threatened to derail the sport completely, with the Festina Affair bringing cycling to its knees.

Festina soigneur Willy Voet’s arrest at the Franco-Belgian border triggered police raids, rider protests, disqualifications and protests at the Tour de France &#; arguably one of the most scandal-struck sporting events in history.

Alasdair Fotheringham book, The End of the Road, takes an in-depth look at that Tour, how the sport sank into scandal and the lessons &#; if any – learned since.

It makes for fascinating reading, albeit an uncomfortable reminder of cycling’s recent chequered history.

Buy it now: Amazon (£), Waterstones (£)

Mountains: Epic Cycling Climbs &#; Michael Blann

Mountains: the pinnacle of cycling; thigh-numbing ascents; an open-air stage for some of pro cycling’s most iconic moments. Cyclists’ bucket lists are littered with must-ride climbs, as beautiful as they are brutal.

Photographer Michael Blann has snapped some of the toughest and most iconic cycling climbs in Europe for Mountains &#; a stunning coffee table book for cyclists.

Featuring contributions from Romain Bardet, Greg Lemond, Stephen Roche, Geraint Thomas, Lizzie Armitstead, Robert Millar and many more, the book blends stunning images with epic tales from within the pro peloton.

If you need any inspiration to get training this winter, this book provides it in spades.

Buy it now: Amazon (£), Waterstones (£)

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Best cycling books | BikeRadar&#;s reading list for cycling bookworms

Whether you’re seeking out a cycling book to get lost in, are in search of inspiration or advice, or looking to buy a gift for a cycling bookworm, we’ve got you covered. These are the best cycling books, according to the BikeRadar team.

From historical tales of the Tour de France and epic trans-continental adventures, to training and nutrition guides and beautiful coffee table books, there’s bound to be something here for everyone.

Because the selection is so vast, we’ve broken our picks down into categories that should help you narrow down your choices to something you’re sure to love.

Click one of the links below to fast-track to a particular section, or read on to browse the whole list.

Cycling books about pro racing


If you’re buying for someone who is an avid follower of the racing each year, they’re sure to enjoy one of the many books that celebrate the best of the race calendar.

The Official History of the Tour de France, Serge Laget

A celebration of the world’s most famous endurance event in the calendar, with stories from each major era of the race, more than photographs (some dating way back to the 19th century), copies of souvenir brochures, period newspaper articles, posters, stickers, postcards and much more.

The Road Book , Ned Boulting (ed.)

This cycling almanac is something of a bible for roadies. It contains information about every single WorldTour race in the year, along with essays from leading cycling figures, team profiles, and everything else the ultimate cycling fan could want.

The Yellow Jersey, Peter Cossins

Arguably the most iconic garment in all of the cycling world, the yellow jersey is now years old. This book is its tribute, featuring interviews with many of its wearers, including Chris Froome, Thomas Voeckler and Antonin Rolland.

Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France, Max Leonard

At the other end of the scale is the Lanterne Rouge, the rider placed last in the Tour, and rarely the name that gets remembered. However, there are some brilliant stories to be told, such as the breakaway leader who took a wrong turn and a drug doper slowed down by his own cocktail.

Giro d’Italia: The Story of the World’s Most Beautiful Bike Race, Colin O’Brien

Italy’s answer to the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, comes with plenty of drama and lively characters. This book tells many stories about suffering, feuds and betrayals, tradition under threat, and the heroism of the riders themselves.

The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling’s Greatest One-day Races, Peter Cossins

The Monuments are brutal one-day races prized by the pros, and for good reason: they’re the longest, toughest and usually the dirtiest. Peter Cossins details the turbulent history of these iconic races and the riders immortalised by them.

To Hell on a Bike: Riding Paris-Roubaix – the Toughest Race in Cycling, Iain MacGregor

They call it the ‘Hell of the North’ for a reason. In this book, Iain MacGregor takes on the brutal challenge of riding the Paris-Roubaix course, while exploring its history and culture, and gaining insights from some of its legends.

Cycling biographies and autobiographies


If you’re buying for someone who idolises one of cycling’s many characters, then the story of their life makes a thoughtful present.

The Tour According to G: My Journey to the Yellow Jersey, Geraint Thomas

The story of how Geraint Thomas finally got his yellow jersey after years of bad luck, crashes and self-sacrifice.

My World, Peter Sagan

Sagan is not only one of the greatest riders of all time, he’s probably one of the most entertaining as well. His autobiography offers a glimpse behind the scenes and into his world of mischief.

Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike, William Fotheringham

Eddy ‘The Cannibal’ Merckx has a half-told story. Behind the legend lay a sensitive and anxious man who suffered horrific injury, doping controversy and tragedy.

The Climb: The Autobiography, Chris Froome

Chris Froome’s autobiography takes us from the dusty roads of Kenya, where he was born, to his second time winning the Tour de France.

The Breakaway, Nicole Cooke

Nicole Cooke’s autobiography tells the damning tale of her struggle to gain the recognition and riches that came so effortlessly to her male counterparts during cycling’s darkest period of doping.

The Greatest: The Times and Life of Beryl Burton, William Fotheringham

Beryl Burton is one of the biggest names in women’s racing in the UK, dominating the sport during the ’60s and ’70s. This biography was published to coincide with this year’s World Championships in Yorkshire and explores the life behind the legend.

The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography, Matt Rendell

Pantani’s death in a cheap hotel sent shockwaves through the cycling community who knew him as the iconic double-winner of the Tour and Giro in Drawing upon his own experience of Pantani, while also speaking to his psychoanalysts, family and friends, Matt Rendell tells the full story of Pantani’s short but explosive career.

Books about adventure planning


The only thing greater than going on an adventure is planning it. So, if you’re buying for a bivvying bikepacker or a masochistic mountain climber, there’s bound to be something here that gets them excited to plan the next big ride.

Bikepacking: Mountain Bike Camping Adventures on the Wild Trails of Britain, Laurence McJannet

This beautiful book offers an array of off-road routes in the UK, separated by region, and provides suggestions of where to eat and where to stay if camping’s not an option.

Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes, Alastair Humphreys

If your giftee is more limited in time and resources, then introduce them to the world of microadventuring – something cheap, simple and close to home.

Escape by Bike: Adventure Cycling, Bikepacking and Touring Off-Road, Joshua Cunningham

After cycling from London to Hong Kong over 11 months and passing through 26 countries, Joshua Cunningham offers up some of the best practical advice for planning adventures abroad, from making travel arrangements to packing and navigating.

The Scottish Bothy Bible: The Complete Guide to Scotland’s Bothies and How to Reach Them, Geoff Allan

If your bikepacking friend is planning a stint in Scotland, why not get them the ultimate guide to Scottish bothies? It will both inspire their plans and help them find shelter when it’s needed.

Lost Lanes series, Jack Thurston

If they’re more of an on-road explorer, Jack Thurston’s series of Lost Lanes books provides a multitude of routes to enjoy in the UK. The books also come with downloadable GPX tracks. As well as Southern England, Thurston has produced books devoted to the lost lanes of the West Country and Wales.

Britain’s Greatest Cycling Climbs, Simon Warren

Simon Warren may well be Britain’s most accomplished hill climber, having produced eight regional climbing guides for the UK, covering the South East and West, the North East and West, the Midlands, Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales. And that’s not even mentioning his other books on Italy, Belgium and the Tour de France.

Ultimate Etapes: Ride Europe’s Greatest Cycling Stages, Peter Cossins

Have your friend raring to ride the best routes in Europe with this essential guide to the most renowned stages of modern cycling. It’s aimed at all abilities and provides detailed route descriptions, maps, elevation profiles and suggestions for other rides in the same region.

Epic Bike Rides of the World, Lonely Planet

Organised by continent, this Lonely Planet book details amazing rides the world has to offer. Each route comes with a map, practical advice and stunning photography. This hardback is beautiful and doubles up as a great coffee table book as well.

Inspiring cycling journeys and travelogues


We all love to hear other people’s stories, don’t we? If you’re buying for someone who is yearning to challenge themselves, one of the best things you can do is introduce them to someone who’s already done it – let an inspirational story plant the seed.

End to End, Paul Jones

Ostensibly about chasing the Roads Records Association end-to-end record (riding ~ miles along the length of Britain from Land’s End to John O’ Groats), the stories and people in the book are captivating, raw and very funny.

Where There’s a Will: Hope, Grief and Endurance in a Cycle Race Across a Continent, Emily Chappell

Emily Chappell is an accomplished ultra-endurance racer, having competed in a multitude of events such as the Strathpuffer, the Transatlantic Way, and most notably, winning the Transcontinental Race in Her latest book is a truly relatable story about self-doubt, self-discovery, grief and achieving what at first seems impossible.

Mind is the Ride, Jet McDonald

Jet McDonald’s amalgamation of cycle touring, bike anatomy and philosophy is a truly unique reading experience that will have its reader quoting Descartes while pondering the inner workings of their bottom bracket, all while cycling to India.

One More Croissant for the Road, Felicity Cloake

This is one that’s written in every cyclist’s language. Felicity Cloake cycled 2,km across France while tasting the best of its culinary offerings along the way. A delightful rendition of her epic journey that will leave your giftee hankering for a bike tour and a madeleine.

Conversations from Land’s End to John O’Groats, Nick Hand

Nick Hand’s bike is no ordinary bike – it’s a printing press. Taking it on a LEJOG adventure, he recorded conversations with people he met along the way and printed them. The resulting book is a quaint selection of encounters, along with some stunning photography.

The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Along the Iron Curtain Trail, Tim Moore

Tim Moore is arguably the two-wheel equivalent of Bill Bryson. In this instalment he takes a small-wheeled, two-geared shopper bike along the 9,km Iron Curtain trail. Need I say more?

With the Sun on our Right, Tim Moss

While there are many round-the-world cycling stories out there, what makes With the Sun on our Right unique is the focus it places on personal encounters, and the true hospitable nature of people. If that’s not enough, it’s a refreshing insight into Moss’s mental health, which will hopefully enable other men to open up about this important topic.

Back in the Frame: How to Get Back on your Bike, Whatever Life Throws at You, Jools Walker

Lady Vélo, as she’s also known, offers up a charming story of falling back in love with cycling after a long absence. From her first wobbly days on her Pashley Princess, to taking on the Eroica, she talks openly about how cycling impacts her mental health and how she carved a space for herself as a woman of colour in a very white and male dominated industry.

Cycling nutrition and training books


Perhaps you’ve got a friend or loved one who’s training for a particular event and needs a little push in the right direction. Help them find some practical advice in these guides to training and nutrition, aimed specifically at cyclists.

The Cycling Chef: Recipes for Performance and Pleasure, Alan Murchison

Alan Murchison is a Michelin-starred chef who also happens to be a champion athlete. He now cooks for British Cycling athletes, and in this book he shares 65 recipes for nutritionally balanced, fuelling meals.

The Cycling Mind: The Psychological Skills for Peak Performance on the Bike – and in Life, Ruth Anderson

Ruth Anderson is British Cycling’s Lead Psychologist and she knows a thing or two about the mental barriers that can disrupt performance. In The Cycling Mind she details the athlete’s psychological journey from training to competing, offering practical guidelines to keep moving forward in the most trying times.

Fast After How to Race Strong for the Rest of Your Life, Joe Friel

Who says you have to slow down as you get older? Fast After 50 was written for endurance athletes who want to keep pushing themselves beyond what would normally be considered their peak. It offers high-intensity workouts, strength training, cross-training, recovery and performance-enhancing nutrition.

The Cyclist’s Training Bible: The World’s Most Comprehensive Training Guide, Joe Friel

Now in its fifth edition, this comprehensive guide will help aspiring cyclists to develop a personal training plan and equip them with all the information they need while planning their next big challenge.

The Science of the Tour de France: Training Secrets of the World’s Best Cyclists, James Witts

Give them the push they need to level up. This book includes insights from the likes of Marcel Kittel, Peter Sagan and Bauke Mollema, and covers the pioneering science behind the pros, from using power meters to race strategy.

Fuelling the Cycling Revolution: The Nutritional Strategies and Recipes Behind Grand Tour Wins and Olympic Gold Medals, Nigel Mitchell

Nigel Mitchell is head of nutrition for EF Education First Pro Cycling team, and his book is a practical toolkit for any cyclist looking to eat their way to improved performance. It cuts out the pseudo-science and features anecdotes and case studies from real riders.

Books about cycling history


When you’re passionate about a subject, you might want to devour everything that’s ever been written about it. If you know someone who feels this way about cycling, treat them to something they can really sink their teeth into.

Bikes and Bloomers: Victorian Women Inventors and their Extraordinary Cycle Wear, Kat Jungnickel

A cycling history book with a difference, Bikes and Bloomers traces the evolution of women’s cycling kit and tells the story of how the humble bicycle contributed to women’s liberation. It draws on in-depth archival research and reminds us just how far we’ve come.

Cycling and Cinema, Bruce Bennett

Bruce Bennett delves into the history of the bicycle in cinema, covering all manner of films from slapstick comedies of the early 20th century to Hollywood blockbusters, and everything in between. Throughout, Bennett makes the case that on top of being a source of fun and a means of transportation, the bike is a vehicle of social and political transformation.

The End of the Road: The Festina Affair and the Tour that Almost Wrecked Cycling, Alasdair Fotheringham

The Tour de France was not without its drama. This retelling of what’s become known as the Festina affair – when sports physiotherapist Willy Voet was arrested on the French-Belgian border mid-race – is the first English-language book that delves deep into the subject.

Revolution: How the Bicycle Reinvented Modern Britain, William Manners

Manners’ debut book charts the role of cycling in s Britain, from its influence on fashion to the freedom of movement it offered, this well-researched history is as entertaining as it is informative.

Women on the Move: The Forgotten Era of Women’s Bicycle Racing, Roger Gilles

Staying in the s but heading across the Atlantic, Roger Gilles looks at the early days of women’s racing and in particular how it thrived from to He tells the stories of some of the best female racers of the time: Lizzie Glaw, Tillie Anderson and Dottie Farnsworth to name a few.

Three Weeks, Eight Seconds: The Epic Tour de France of , Nige Tassell

Another account of a notorious Tour, the Tour de France saw Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon to the finish line by 50 seconds. The two rivals had been battling it out for three weeks, with the yellow jersey being passed back and forth, and Nige Tassell brings this astonishing story to life.

The Great Bike Race: The Classic, Acclaimed Book that Introduced a Nation to the Tour De France, Geoffrey Nicholson

First published in , The Great Bike Race is hailed as the benchmark English-language book about the Tour de France and has been reprinted this year for more people to enjoy. It was the original book that introduced us to the Tour outside of France, telling the story of the race in all its glory.

Cycling coffee table books


If you’re really not sure what sort of book to buy the cyclist in your life, you can’t go wrong with a big, hardback book full of beautiful photographs or silly cycling cartoons.

The Rough-Stuff Fellowship Archive, Mark Hudson

The Rough-Stuff Fellowship was founded in and is the oldest off-road cycling club in the world. In this amazing book, its archive is shared with the world, including stunning imagery and hand-drawn maps and documents. It’s a true treasure trove from a bygone era.

A History of Cycling in Objects, Suze Clemitson

Whether you want to bust out some factoids at the dinner table or answer an onslaught of questions about the sport you love so much, this book can be handy to keep around the house. Why is it a yellow jersey? How did bloomers influence bicycle design? How did Graeme Obree’s ‘Old Faithful’ get its nickname? Give someone the answers.

The Cycling Cartoonist: An Illustrated Guide to Life on Two Wheels, Dave Walker

Dave Walker’s cartoons will resonate with any cyclist who gets this book. As a true N+1 advocate, Walker makes some great observations about the habits of cyclists, offering a great opportunity to have a chuckle and stop taking themselves so seriously.

Queens of Pain: Legends and Rebels of Cycling, Isabel Best

Published by Rapha Editions, you know it’s going to look good. Queens of Pain charts the history of women’s pro-racing from the s to the s, and traces the stories of its heroines back to their roots as stunt women, speed skaters, mothers, shop assistance and delivery girls.

Mountains: Epic Cycling Climbs, Michael Blann

If your giftee is at home in the mountains, then help them bring the mountains home with them. This luxury coffee table book contains stunning photographs taken over a three-year period to chart the most famous European cycling climbs. These are printed alongside personal recollections from the likes of Greg LeMond, Lizzie Armistead, Geraint Thomas, and many more.

Cyclepedia: A Tour of Iconic Bicycle Designs, Michael Embacher

Anyone who appreciates the aesthetic of a beautiful bike will love this book. It contains a unique collection of over bicycles that demonstrate just how much bikes have evolved. It’s carefully curated selection of some of the most beautiful bicycles around the world, and is a true homage to our love of all things two-wheeled.

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Best Cycling Books

Recommendations from 13 articles, Bethanne Patrick, Dan Stemkoski, Noah Kagan.
A literary sports classic, finally available in the U.S. Originally published in the Netherlands in , The Rider became an instant cult classic, selling over , copies. Brilliantly conceived and written at a breakneck pace, it is a loving, imaginative, and, above all, passionate tribute to the art of bicycle road racing. Not a dry history
The Comeback
Greg LeMond, the True King of American Cycling, and a Legendary Tour de France
Daniel de Vise - May 21,
A true American hero, Greg LeMond's career was punctuated by dramatic fame, devastation, and ultimately redemption. In July , LeMond stunned the sporting world by becoming the first American to win the Tour de France, the world's pre-eminent bicycle race, defeating French cycling legend Bernard Hinault. Nine months later, LeMond lay in a hospit
Where There's A Will by Emily Chappell
Flying Scotsman by Graeme Obree
Faster by Michael Hutchinson
Colombia Es Pasion! by Matt Rendell
Shut Up, Legs! by Jens Voigt
Rough Ride by Paul Kimmage
Put Me Back on My Bike by William Fotheringham
The Hour by Michael Hutchinson
The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold by Tim Moore
This Road I Ride by Juliana Buhring
The Race Against the Stasi by Herbie Sykes
The Death of Marco Pantani by Matt Rendell
Ride the Revolution by Suze Clemitson
Wide-Eyed and Legless by Jeff Connor

The 10 best cycling books

1 | The Rider

Tim Krabbé (; English translation )

This fictional account of a professional bicycle race by the Dutch journalist, author and former racing cyclist, is a cult classic. Finely written and full of rhetorical flourishes, it captures the peculiar dynamic of the peloton beautifully, from the point of view of one rider. At just pages, it is a book you simply have to put down, in order to savour it. It is also a meditation on pain, for armchair enthusiasts who don’t fancy it much themselves. For bike-racing fans, it’s essential reading.

2 | Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle

Dervla Murphy ()

A cycle touring classic, the best kind of adventure story and a clarion call to “travel for travel’s sake”. I read it in the late s, working in London: six months later, I bought a bespoke steel bicycle, abandoned my career and set off to pedal around the world. Reading it, I realised that you don’t need a wealth of knowledge and experience to embark on a journey like this. If you have a flair for getting on with people, then you’re ready to leave now. Murphy’s writing is uplifting, like riding through dawn on a summer’s day.

3 | Richard’s Bicycle Book

Richard Ballantine (; out of print)

Part manual, part manifesto, full of humour, common sense and practical advice, this instantly became a bible to the new wave of folk who took to two wheels during the oil crisis in the early 70s. For the next two decades, it was the only mass market cycling book: it’s been reprinted numerous times, selling more than a million copies through various iterations. The manual part of the book is irrelevant now, because the bicycle has changed so much. However, the manifesto part remains fresh: the author’s passion for the machine and his avowal that cyclists own the road as much as motorists, remain as pertinent as ever.

4 | Bicycle: The History

David V Herlihy ()

For much of the 20th century, the history of the bicycle was muddied by the proprietary claims and myths of competing industrial nations: Germany, France, England, Italy, the US and even Scotland all asserted they had invented the machine. Herlihy brings academic rigour and clarity to the development of the steel horse. It is a fantastic tale – of ingenuity, eccentric inventors, technological impasses, lost fortunes and luck, which culminates in the first modern bicycle. The prose can be a little dry but the illustrations are excellent.

5 | The Escape Artist: Life from the Saddle

Matt Seaton ()

An autobiographical tale about one man’s obsession with amateur bike-racing: fine-tuning the machine, shaving the legs, the physical and emotional fellowship of riding with friends, the early-morning training rides, the etiquette of the peloton and the suffering are all here. So far, so familiar. The real suffering, however, emerges in the second, interwoven tale – of the death of Seaton’s wife, the journalist Ruth Picardie, from breast cancer, aged 33, two years after the birth of their twins. Somehow Seaton avoids being mawkish. It’s an elegantly written, heartbreaking story about growing up.

6 | Put Me Back On My Bike: In Search of Tom Simpson

William Fotheringham ()

Guardian writer Fotheringham has written several good biographies of racing cyclists but this one stands out, not least because Tom Simpson was such a mercurial character. A lionhearted anti-hero, Simpson collapsed and died on Mont Ventoux during the Tour de France in , with amphetamines and cognac in his blood. He was an Olympic medallist, a world champion, an obsessive professional and the first Briton to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. Thus, he helped turn an insular European race into a global phenomenon. Fotheringham sympathetically unravels the most enigmatic figure British cycling has produced.

7 | Cycling

Viscount Bury and G Lacy Hillier (; out of print)

In elegant prose, this book records the bicycle on the cusp of the first golden age. There are chapters on dress (“Cashmere neck handkerchiefs are to be preferred … for night riding in the winter”), clubs, touring and “Tricycling for Ladies”. At the time of publication, cycling was still largely the exclusive pastime of athletic, wealthy males; by , the bicycle was the most popular form of transport on the planet. The simple machine had changed society in innumerable ways for ever.

8 | The Third Policeman

Flann O’Brien (pub posthumously, )

A satirical, absurdist murder mystery by an overlooked giant of 20th-century Irish literature. At the heart of this offbeat tale is the unrequited love affair between a man and a bicycle. If that’s not bizarre enough, Sergeant Pluck’s “Atomic Theory” – that prolonged contact with a bicycle saddle can result in “molecular exchange” – leads him to conclude: “You would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycle.”

9 | French Revolutions

Tim Moore ()

It’s a simple premise – ride the route of the Tour de France before the annual race takes place – but a difficult one to pull off. Fortunately, Moore is explosively funny and a terrific storyteller. As Moore was a novice cyclist, there is plenty of material on boils, the application of Savlon and the ideal daily alcohol consumption for optimum performance. Amid the hilarity, though, he weaves in some of the more infamous and bizarre moments in Tour history, making it a joyful introduction to the greatest bike race of them all.

10 | A Rough Ride

Paul Kimmage ()

There are several good books – by the likes of Matt Rendell, David Millar and David Walsh – that investigate drugs in professional bike racing, but Kimmage’s visceral polemic was the first to reveal that doping was far more widespread than claimed. I read it spellbound. Of course, much worse was to befall the sport and the organisation that governs it in succeeding years, but Kimmage, an Irish ex-pro cyclist turned journalist, bravely broke the law of omerta in the peloton: he spoke out about the dark heart of European bike racing for the first time.

Rob Penn is the author of The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees and It’s All About the Bike


2016 books best cycling

8 amazing cycling books that will inspire you to head out on your bike

Whether it’s a nail-biting account of a hard-won victory, an intimate account of personal triumph or decades-long battles against physics, every cyclist has their own story to tell. And if you need any more proof, you just have to head over to your Strava feed.

As all two-wheel fans know, the next best thing to actually riding your bike is thinking, talking and dreaming about cycling. So we thought we’d put together this list of the best cycling books that are worthy of a spot in your saddlebag. Save them for when the rain stops play, or break one out as a reward at the top of that monstrous hill. Either way, each will inspire you, and some might just take your breath away, too.

1. This Road I Ride by Juliana Buhring

This Road I Ride by Juliana Buhring

Raised in a religious cult, Juliana Buhring escaped as a young adult and went on to do (in her own words) “quasi-missionary” work distributing food and medicine in civil war-torn Kampala, Uganda. By night, she performed as a go-go dancer to pay the bills. Things got even darker when her soulmate was killed in a crocodile attack. Deciding she had to pull herself out of the darkness, Buhring set her sights on becoming the fastest woman ever to circumnavigate the world by bike, something she achieved in with little money and no sponsorship. This inspiring book is the story of 18, miles, days, four continents, 19 countries, 29 punctures, six big mountains, one desert, one cyclone and a Guinness World Record – a journey that catapulted Buhring to the upper echelons of ultra-distance cycling, where she continues to break down barriers.

Buy: This Road I Ride by Juliana Buhring

2. The Cycling Jersey: Craftsmanship, Speed and Style by Oliver Knight

The Cycling Jersey: Craftmanship, Speed and Style by Oliver Knight

Aside from the bikes themselves, the jersey – maillot or maglia – has become the most iconic symbol of cycling's history, its proud teams and preeminent riders, and most recently its fashion. Today, iconic jerseys are collector's items and even featured in collections from the likes of Sir Paul Smith. Want a passionately-compiled ode to the colourful beauty of the humble cycling shirt? Then this is the book for you. Naturally, there are many, many glossy pictures of some of the best jerseys in history, with interviews and related articles on just how and why they came about, and why some are so innovative. A must for fans of style both vintage and contemporary.

Buy: The Cycling Jersey: Craftsmanship, Speed and Style by Oliver Knight

3. Sunday in Hell: Behind the Lens of the Greatest Cycling Film of All Time by William Fotheringham

Sunday in Hell: Behind the Lens of the Greatest Cycling Film of All Time

Fotheringham’s book explores the making of the film Sunday In Hell, which in turn explores that year’s gruelling Paris-Roubaix Classic, described as kilometres of torment across the bone-crunching pavé of northern France. The film is widely regarded as the best film ever made about professional cycling, exploring the sheer mania and will to succeed demonstrated by those who compete at the very top of their sport. Here, Fotheringham has tracked down the surviving players, with interviews from cyclists Ole Ritter, Francesco Moser, and the film’s director Jørgen Leth. A fantastic exploration of a true piece of cycling history.

Buy: Sunday in Hell: Behind the Lens of the Greatest Cycling Film of All Time by William Fotheringham

4. Mind is the Ride by Jet McDonald

Mind is the Ride by Jet McDonald

Jet McDonald’s philosophical approach to cycling owes a lot to Robert Pirsig’s Buddhist classic Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. But while Pirsig is interested in the motorbike as a metaphor for life and the values we have, McDonald’s book focuses on a 4,mile bicycle ride from Bristol to India and back again. McDonald frames the journey from West to East as an imaginary journey around the parts of the bike itself, gradually building the bike in your mind, while exploring the history of philosophy as he goes. There are some big ideas here – exactly the sort of thing to keep you occupied on a long weekend ride (although India might be a bit far for most).

Buy: Mind is the Ride by Jet McDonald

5. The Road Book Cycling Almanack by Ned Boulting and Cillian Kelly

The Road Book Cycling Almanack by Ned Boulting and Cillian Kelly

If knowledge is power, then purchasing a copy of this book is the road cyclists’ ultimate power move. Now in its second edition, this tome makes it possible to hold in your hands a statistical summary of the professional cycling season. Jam-packed with colourful and helpful infographics, and essays from a range of authors on various competitions, this coffee table essential is full of information to help you plan your attack on a range of races across the globe, be that the women’s World Tour or Premier Calendar events.

Buy: The Road Book Cycling Almanack by Ned Boulting and Cillian Kelly

6. What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story by Emily Chappell

What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story by Emily Chappell

Published in , this memoir harkens back to a (relatively) simpler time in Emily Chappell’s life. That is, before she became an ultra-distance athlete, and the first woman to finish the Transcontinental Race. If the idea of carting documents around London seems slight in comparison, think again. Here Chappell breaks down the community spirit of the courier network, and the despair that sometimes comes with cold winters and London traffic. What’s most interesting, however, is how she weaves in her own career with a history of the courier industry from the late s onwards.

Buy: What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story by Emily Chappell

7. To Make Riders Faster by Anna Dopico

To Make Riders Faster by Anna Dopico

In To Make Riders Faster, Anna Dopico covers the history of Cervélo, the Canadian manufacturer of racing and track bicycles founded in She traces the company’s road from independent business to its eventual sale, charting the highs and lows of building one of the world’s best bike companies along the way. You don’t have to be a fan of the brand to read it, either. Anyone with an interest in business or innovation (Cervélo uses computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing at a range of facilities, including San Diego Air and Space Technology Centre) would find it a fascinating read. The real kick, however, comes from seeing how founders Phil White and Gerard Vroomen established themselves as innovators in the cycling industry in less than a decade.

Buy: To Make Riders Faster by Anna Dopico

8. Slaying the Badger: LeMond, Hinault and the Greatest Ever Tour de France by Richard Moore

Slaying the Badger by Richard Moore

These pages serve as a dual biography of French favourite Bernard Hinault and the American upstart Greg LeMond, before delving into the drama that played out as the younger LeMond and the older Hinault battled for supremacy on the roads of the Tour de France. Despite riding on the same team, the competition between the two men was fierce, even with Hinault promising to ride his final tour in support of the younger rider. Here, Moore interviews the men and women who were there at the time, giving an unparalleled insight into the nature of competition and the outcome of this epic battle.

Buy: Slaying the Badger: LeMond, Hinault and the Greatest Ever Tour de France by Richard Moore

How To Buy A Present For A Cyclist - GCN's Guide To The Perfect Cycling Gift

10 cycling books to read while in coronavirus isolation

As much of the world enjoys more time at home than they ever have before due to the coronavirus crisis – and because there's a limit to how much time you can spend on Zwift on your turbo trainer, or how many episodes of Peppa Pig you can watch – now might be the time to turn towards your bookshelf and fill it with new cycling publications to help keep you entertained in lieu of the lack of racing on television.

Here is Cyclingnews' selection of some of our favourite cycling books to consider, which might help to while away the hours.

Colombia Es Pasión! (W&N) by Matt Rendell

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Journalist Matt Rendell is the author of a number of books on cycling, and Colombian cycling, in particular, including 's Kings of the Mountains, about the nation of climbers, and his book, A Significant Other, about Victor Hugo Peña.

Here, with Colombia Es Pasión!, Rendell effectively updates the story, chronicling the more-recent resurrection of Colombian cycling, and the nation's riders' successes in Europe, in particular, with Nairo Quintana's victories at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, and Egan Bernal's somewhat surprising win at the Tour de France last year – a first for Colombia, tipping the riders' countrymen and women into full-on euphoria.

The Greatest: The Times and Life of Beryl Burton (YouCaxton Publications) by William Fotheringham

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Beryl Burton's reign as arguably Britain's greatest-ever cyclist included two road race world championship titles and five individual pursuit world titles on the track. Her emergence in the late s was the start of a racing career that stretched all the way to the mids, although her very biggest victories came in the '60s.

In his latest book, prolific cycling writer William Fotheringham researches his way to the woman behind the confident, aggressive racing persona, along with anecdotes from, and interviews with, many of those who knew her best.

Read an extract from The Greatest: The Times and Life of Beryl Burton here.

The Yellow Jersey (Yellow Jersey) by Peter Cossins

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Providing that this year's Tour de France happens at some point, it will mark what is the st year that the yellow jersey has been awarded to the leader of the famous French stage race. The maillot jaune celebrated its centenary last year, having first been introduced in to the then year-old race to help roadside fans identify the rider leading the competition overall.

Former Procycling magazine editor Peter Cossins delves deep into the jersey's history to discover how what was once giggled at as nothing but an exuberant, canary-coloured garment became – and continues to be – such a revered symbol of cycling success.

Read an excerpt from The Yellow Jersey here.

The End of the Road (Bloomsbury Sport) by Alasdair Fotheringham

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To understand today's hard-nosed stance against doping, you need to reach back to the almost catastrophic happenings of the Tour de France, when Festina soigneur Willy Voet was caught en route to the start of the race in Ireland that year with a carload of doping products bound for the team's riders.

It led Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc to admit later that it almost spelled the end of the Tour itself, although with his and successor Christian Prudhomme's help, the race has clawed its way back to its rightful place in the French public's hearts.

Regular Cyclingnews contributor Alasdair Fotheringham expertly tells the story of a truly memorable edition of the race – for bad and good – which saw crowd favourite Marco Pantani emerge as the winner from the remnants of that year's decimated Tour peloton.

Read an extract from The End of the Road here.

The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling's Golden Generation (Gill Books) by Barry Ryan

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In The AscentCyclingnews European editor Barry Ryan weaves together in-depth interviews with two of Ireland's – and the sport's – biggest cycling stars, Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche. Between them, country-boy Kelly and city-slicker Roche hoovered up just about everything worth winning in the sport, including Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia multiple times, seven Paris-Nice titles between and , and the Vuelta a España for Kelly, and the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the road race World Championships for Roche during what was a particularly dizzying

Both riders' careers lasted well into the s, and Kelly's pro career started in the late s, but it was the s that the Irish duo truly dominated, taking on the traditional dominance of riders from Spain, France and Italy – all expertly documented here by Ryan.

Read an extract from The Ascent here.

Ventoux: Sacrifice and Suffering on the Giant of Provence (Simon & Schuster) by Jeremy Whittle

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Students of the Tour de France's epic climbs generally agree on the two greatest: the legendary Alpe d'Huez and the infamous Mont Ventoux. Much of the latter's notoriety stems from British rider Tom Simpson's death on the climb's southern flanks during the Tour.

But there are more, slightly less-dark strings to the Ventoux's bow, and the mountain's story is told brilliantly here by long-time cycling journalist and author Jeremy Whittle, who's more qualified than most on the subject, having spent more than his fair share of time in the surrounding area, living in the shadow of Le Géant de Provence.

Rough Ride (Yellow Jersey) by Paul Kimmage

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An oldie but goodie – and arguably the gateway to the glut of similarly well-written cycling literature that suddenly came, and continues to come, in the wake of this William Hill Sports Book of the Year winner – Paul Kimmage's tale of being a pro in the late s is an essential read.

Now a respected journalist, the Irishman was vilified by a number of his former colleagues for having 'spat in the soup' with his revelations of doping in the peloton, but there's a lot more here besides that side of the book, which remains an extremely enjoyable and still-relevant account of life in the pro peloton.

The Ronde: Inside the Tour of Flanders, the World's Toughest Bike Race (Simon & Schuster) by Edward Pickering

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Procycling editor Edward Pickering's love for the Tour of Flanders shines throughout this book, which details what is a sacred race for Belgian cycling fans – akin to the FA Cup in the UK, or the Super Bowl in the US. The fact that, as a result of the coronavirus crisis, this year's race has been postponed – and potentially cancelled if another slot doesn't become available further down the track for it – will feel like a knife to the heart of true Flanders fans, such is the passion for it.

Pickering explores the Ronde van Vlaanderen's history and appeal, and speaks to those who've experienced it first-hand in order to paint a full picture of one of the hardest one-day races on the cycling calendar.

Read an extract from The Ronde here.

One Way Ticket: Nine Lives on Two Wheels (Quercus) by Jonathan Vaughters

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Jonathan Vaughters rode for the likes of US Postal and Crédit Agricole during a pro career that stretched from the mids to the mids, and then admitted in that he had doped for much of it.

In his final year as a rider, however, Vaughters sought to mitigate his own wrongdoings by starting a US-based junior team that has grown and blossomed into what is today American WorldTour team EF Pro Cycling, which in previous guises became somewhat of a safe haven for former dopers who had mended their ways. This is Vaughters' story.

Richard Mitchelson's Grand Tour: A Two-Wheeled, Chain-Driven Interactive Artistic Adventure (Velodrome Publishing) by Richard Mitchelson

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Perfect for that big kid in your life (and if you don't think there is one, it's you), Richard Mitchelson has put together this big book of Grand-Tour-related fun, which perhaps has more appeal than ever given that the Giro d'Italia has already been postponed and the Tour de France could be next in line.

You'll no doubt know 'Rich Mitch' the illustrator, thanks to his cartoon portraits of various pro riders, past and present, who have found themselves immortalised on mugs and wallpaper, among other merchandise, and readers will find lots to keep them occupied in this wonderfully irreverent book full of activities, from drawing your own Tour de France route, to dot-to-dots, to designing jerseys.


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