It’s dark and cold these mornings, which makes it the perfect time of year for a hot cup of coffee and good book. I used to read a lot of cycling books. In fact, there was a time when I was aware of all the new cycling books coming to market, and a steady stream of them arrived at my house from the European publishers and outlets that, more often than not, produced them.
But as we discussed yesterday on The Paceline, the blood-doping era killed my enthusiasm for the genre even though there are plenty of cycling stories that don’t include transfusions, testosterone and the dark side of human nature. I did read this book, which was excellent, but otherwise I’ve mostly given up.
Which is lame.
In my mind, there are a few foundational texts in the cycling canon. There is, of course, The Rider, Tim Krabbe’s masterpiece, which captures the experience of riding and racing like no other book I know. Then of course, there are the collections of Samuel Abt’s race reportage (see above). These books take you to the Tour de France with more nuance and panache than you thought was possible.
I’ve enjoyed a lot of others, too. Todd Balf’s Major Taylor biography is great. I liked Laurent Fignon’s biography We Were Young and Carefree. And don’t forget Joe Parkin (has nice hair’s) books A Dog in a Hat and Come and Gone.
This week’s TCI Friday wonders what I should be slapping on top of my pile next. What’s the last good cycling book you read? What’s the best?