TCI Friday

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?

Join the conversation
  1. jlaudolff says

    The last cycling book I read was “Jan Ulrich: The Best There Never Was” by Daniel Friebe. Interesting book. Unfortunately from the time we aren’t that excited about revisiting.

  2. khal spencer says

    I read The Secret Race, I think it was, by Tyler Hamilton. That was after I was bamboozled by Armstrong’s own book, “It’s Not About the Bike”. Then decided not to read any more about bike racing. Sigh. A far more uplifting book woulda been better, I suppose.

  3. alanm9 says

    One I always remember is Miles From Nowhere by Barbara Savage. She and her husband biked the world and had crazy adventures, then she came home and was killed by a driver while training for a triathlon. Oh, the irony. I’ve also enjoyed all of Phil Gaimon’s books. Descent by Thomas Dekker was eye opening in many ways. Another good touring read was Westward Ha! If you have kids or were a kid you’d like that one.

    1. Jeff vdD says

      +1 for Gaimon and Descent

  4. patricktorourke says

    The best cycling book that I’ve read in the past couple of years is The Cyclist and His Shadow by former French cycling pro and post-cycling career philosopher Olivier Haralambon. The writing is evocative and sensuous. You will not regret picking this up.

  5. Hautacam says

    These are more about looking (aka pictures) than reading, but Merckx:525 (Velopress) and Mountains — Epic Cycling Climbs (by Michael Blann) are always out in my living room and I like to peruse them at random in quiet moments. They transport me to other places and times, which is pretty much all one could ask of any book, I think.

  6. voxsalmo says

    “The Rider” by Tim Krabbe. Spectacular writing and a true story of an amatuer’s year endeavor in racing in 1970’s. Told from within the struggle of a single arduous race. Transcendent and insightful… and a quick afternoon read.

  7. johnrom719 says

    I guess I prefer books by people who didn’t try to win anything and thus didn’t cheat. They just looked to be transformed. Clayton Pratt tells how he and his wife dropped oit of medical school and a job at Google to ride around the world in The Touring Tandem. Be Brave, Be Strong is Jill Homer’s reflection of riding the Tour Divide after a rough break up.

    1. Jeff vdD says

      Jill Homer’s Into the North Wind and Becoming Frozen (the latter very marginally about bikes) are both also excellent

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