Top Ten Cycling Books
In these uncertain economic times a book is a great way of getting, and giving, a huge amount of enjoyment for very little money. As cycling booms what better gift could there be this Christmas for the husband who has just taken-up riding to work or the girlfriend longing to travel, than a book about cycling. The internet and shelves of bookshops are starting to fill with cycling literature and so here to help you separate the choppers from the racers is The Hungry Cyclist’s Top 10 Cycling Books to fill your lycra stockings this Christmas.
No 1: French Revolutions by Tim Moore
The competition was tough this year, but taking the coverted ‘Yellow Jersey’ of cycling literature is Tim Moore’s French Revolutions - Cycling the Tour De France. A must read for keen cyclist, Tour de France nuts or anyone looking for a good old fashioned belly-ache, this informative, inspirational and often moving account of a hopeless amateur’s attempt to “do the Tour” is, in my humble opinion, the funniest and best written cycling book out there.
No 2: It’s Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong
What Lance Armstrong coming second! I know, I know it’s had to believe but this year the man with the wardrobe full of yellow jersies is going to have to make do with the silver medal. But don’t let this put you off, this compelling read is an inspiriation to all. Whether your interest is science, cycling, sport or just a dam fine read. Gripping from the start, it takes the reader over the ups and downs of an extraordianry part of an extraordinary persons life. Lance Armstrong’s tale is truly the stuff of legend.
No 3: Fat Man on a Bicycle by Tom Vernon
In at No 3 is a retro-classic from one of the pioneers of cycle touring Tom Vernon. One day in the early 1980s, British radio star Tom Vernon hopped on his bicycle, the Roman Philosopher, and hit the road. No matter how far he biked, he found that he never met a boring person, and he never lost weight – a man after my own heart. This hilarious insight into the joys of life in the saddle from a master of his art.
No 4: Thunder & Sunshine by Al Humphries
The second book from Alastair Humphrey’s 46,000 mile round-the-world -pedal-powered epic is a must-have for anyone with a longing for life on the open road. Spanning no less than five continents Al’s ride took four years to complete, on a tiny budget but with bundles of determination. Having pedalled through the Middle East and Africa in his first book, Al still had to cross to South America and ride to Canada, across Siberia and back through Europe to finish his journey. In Thunder and Sunshine, Al’s love of life, determination and unbreakable will shine through in this beutiful read from one of the very best adventure authors out there.
No 5: Travels in a Strange State by Josie Dew
Following on from the delightful, “Wind in my Wheels” this thoroughbred from Dew stable is a pleasure from start to finnish. A cycling mother and inspiration to us all on two wheels, this journey in The Land of the Free, plays testament to Josie’s colorful character and eye for the unusual. From race riots in L.A, to the beaches of Hawaii, via Death Valley, get on board with Josie this Christmas and you are onto a winner.
No 6: Johnny Ginger’s Last Ride by Tom Freemantle
Who on earth is Jonny Ginger I hear you say… Admittedly this is not your usual account of a cycle tour but Tom’s charming style of writing is thought-provoking and self-effacing, and the whole tale is told with great humour and sensitivity. History, politics and religion are interwoven into a fascinating journey of an ordinary English bloke determined to cycle from his sleepy home village of Swanbourne across half the world to Swanbourne in Western Australia. This is a gentle read ready to be enjoyed by those who are happy never to venture further than the local shop, or those who have an adventurous travel agenda of their own.
No 7: Lone Traveller by Anne Mustoe
No 8: Miles from Nowhere by Barbara Savage
If you ever dreamed about doing something really adventurous at least once in your life, you must read this book! The late, great Barbara writes about the lows as well as the highs of cycle touring, and this book still holds a rightful place as a classic amongst cycle tourists. It makes both an exciting and humorous read because this is a travel book about an honest couple people living a real adventure.
No 9: The Adventure Cycle Touring Handbook by Steve Lord
The Bible of bike touring, this info-packed book must have a place on any cyclist t bookshelf. From detailed equipment lists to routes for far-flung places, annecdotes from other cyclists and stunning photos, if you have a steady job this book should come with a health warning. Buy it and you will soon find yourself out on the road. New edition coming soon!
No 10: The Flying Scotsman Graeme Obree
Last but by no means least is Graeme Obree’s remarkable story. Having to use washing machine parts to complete the building of his bicycle, Graeme’s journey starts with his tough upbringing in the Ayrshire valleys, where he found his escape from his hard life by taking to the roads. From there he tells the reader of what it takes to become a world record breaker, of his thrilling head-to-head duels with Chris Boardman and how he became a major international star on the European circuit. The story ends with Graeme’s searingly honest account of his battle against depression which drove him to attempt suicide. Moving stuff in every sense.
And what of next year? Which cycling books will be leading the pack and filling the shelves. Well no doubt Chris Hoy will have a few missives on the shelves but other than that do look out for The Hungry Cyclist – Pedalling The Americas in Search of the Perfect Meal. Published by Harper Collins in May I can guarantee it will make the Top Ten next year.