Some of of my cycling books are about epic rides. Tim Moore’s book about riding the 2000 Tour de France route for example (see Still Too Wet to Ride?)
Closer to home, Sandra Loh circumnavigated Peninsular Malaysia, together with Mak Shiau Meng, in 2009. I have a signed copy of Loh’s “Pedalling Around the Peninsula: A Malaysian Girl’s Two-Wheeled Adventures.” Perhaps the most amazing statistic is that she cycled 2,664 km / 1,655mi without a single flat tire.
Mark Beaumont took a somewhat longer ride. And he did it alone. He cycled 29,446km / 18,297mi to circumnavigate the globe in 194 days in 2008. That was a world record at the time. Achieving it required cycling an average of 160km / 100mi per day, no matter the weather, the terrain or his physical condition. He did have a few flats along the way, as recounted in “The Man Who Cycled the World.”
The most tragic ride story is told by David Herlihy in “The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale Of An American Adventurer And His Mysterious Disappearance“. This is also a story of a man attempting to circumnavigate the globe by bicycle, but in a very different age to Beaumont’s. Frank Lenz started his ride in 1892, on the then innovative safety bicycle, complete with new-fangled pneumatic tires. Lenz makes it most of the way around the world before disappearing in eastern Turkey.
Now onto the books that don’t fall neatly in one classification or another. Like “Bicycle Love: Stories of Passion, Joy, and Sweat” edited by Garth Battista. A compilation of 60 or so essays on the many varieties of bicycle love.
Another compilation of improbable, silly, crazy and absurd, but all true stories is in “Cycling’s 50 Craziest Stories.” It is written by Les Woodland, a doyen of British cycling authors with eighteen books on the subject to his name.
The tell-all book that shook the sport in 2012 was “The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at All Costs” by Tyler Hamilton and his co-author Daniel Coyle. This book came out as the Lance Armstrong story was coming to a head. It talks about all the significant doping scandals of the past 15 years with a level of detail not seen before. The sport of professional cycling will never be the same.
A book that doesn’t talk about doping but is otherwise an all-one handbook of cycling is “The Complete Bike Book” by Chris Sidwells. He writes about the history of the bicycle, the essentials of riding, choosing the right equipment and clothing, riding technique, and bike maintenance. There is something here for beginner and experienced cyclist alike.
At the other end of the spectrum is a book that does just one thing, and does it very well. The “Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair” by Park Tool. Park Tool makes bike tools, so the company knows a thing or two about bicycle maintenance and repair. This was the recommended text at the bicycle maintenance course I took. Enough said.
This next item is on the left side of the shelf and sticks up above all the other books. It is not a book in the traditional sense. I had to look up what a leporello book is. “Bicycle,” created for the London 2012 Olympics, is Ugo Gattoni‘s vision of a madcap bicycle race through the streets of London.
The last book in my collection is also a picture book. Graham Watson is a renowned cycling photographer. Organized by season, this book takes readers around the globe, from the Australian championships to the Tour de France, always showing the peloton against a backdrop of exquisite, compelling scenery.
Just the thing for a rainy day.