I do love to ride my bike – of course I do – but unfortunately I don’t have the stamina to ride ALL the time, so sometimes settling down with a good book is the next best thing.
There are some amazing books out there written by cyclists who have done incredible things. Appreciation of literature, of course, is subjective (FYI – my sister wrote her dissertation on Jane Austen, I did mine on Virginia Woolf – takes all kinds to make the world!) – but here are 5 I’d recommend…
1) Moods of Future Joys – Alastair Humphreys
Written by a man who decided, at the age of 24, to ride around the circumference of the Earth, ‘Moods of Future Joys’ is an inspiring tale that will no doubt have you planning your own adventures.
Leaving his house (with a wrong turning and some home made sandwiches) Humphreys went on to ride to South Africa, cross the Atlantic by yacht, then from Patagonia to Alaska, before crossing the Pacific by freight, and riding through Siberia and back to England. Alastair isn’t racing, he’s exploring – and he learns a lot on his journey.
This is a page turner that tells the first half of the story, with the promise of a sequel, in ‘Thunder and Sunshine’, which tells the second half of the story.
2) Great British Cycling – Ellis Bacon
I met Ellis Bacon at an industry event a couple of months ago, and he gave me a copy of Great British Cycling. In the book, Ellis documents the journey of cycling in Britain from its infancy in 1868, to the present day.
To write the book, Ellis met and interviewed riders (or family members of riders) from every period in British cycle racing, from Tommy Simpson to Beryl Burton, right up to current legends, Cavendish, Froome and Wiggins.
It’s the kind of book (in my opinion) you can dip in and out of, and there’s even an index in the back, so you can find stories of some of the most prominent riders, should you need a recap one day.
The stories are the kind of insights you’d only get from in-depth conversations with riders, or their close family and friends – and Ellis has done the leg work for us, so we can simply open the cover and enjoy.
3) Gold – Chris Cleave
Gold is completely different to the above – it’s a page turning novel that I failed to put down for the two days it took me to get from cover to cover. I may be wrong, but I’d imagine it will appeal more to female cyclists – though I’d like to think men would enjoy it too.
The tale of two female track cyclists, firm friends, only one of whom can ride at the Olympics – this story ties in tragedy from outside the velodrome too, and will pull at your heartstrings if you let it.
A novel full of twists and turns, plus the odd 360, telling you too much would give it away – but you need to read this.
4) The Hour – Michael Hutchinson
Want to understand more about ‘The H0ur’ – without wading through all the recent news posts?
Michael Hutchinson had a crack at the UCI Hour BEFORE the most recent rule change, and his documentation tells us not just the story of his preparation and ride, but of all those who took the challenge before him.
Hutchinson (whose most recent work ‘Faster’ is the ultimate in training manual for data geeks, and who amuses me every Thursday with his cycling weekly column) provides some fantastic training insights, as well as a few laughs at the common mistakes made my athletes, along with a historical account of the Hour.
Incidentally, it was this book that introduced me to Graeme Obree…
5) The Obree Way – A training manual for cyclists – Graeme Obree
Confession – I’m a bit of an Obree fan girl – but I do love this book – I wrote a full review here.
In short, I don’t suggest you follow all of Obree’s advice – but it definitely worked for this Hour record holder, time trialist and track racer.
The ‘manual’ is a guide of sorts, but alongside advice (the best of which is: “Training is bad for you. Training followed by rest and proper nutrition is good for and will make you better prepared for the event you are training for”) you also get a glimpse into the mind of a creative genius who managed to achieve great things on a bike he built from washing machine parts.
Obree’s advice might not be traditional, but then he never was one to stay in his box…
Those are my top 5 – have you got any to add?