Book review: A hundred years ago today on Sunday, June 28, 1914, 145 cyclists rolled out of Paris for the 12th edition of the Tour de France, while that same day across Europe in Sarajevo, the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated - triggering the events that began the Great War. Graham Healy explores the impact of World War 1 on professional racing in his new book 'The Shattered Peloton'.
Book review: In 'Tour de France 100', award-winning journalist Richard Moore celebrates all that is great, fantastic, amusing, outrageous, and overwhelming in the Tour through illuminating text and a cascade of defining images from the race’s extraordinary history.
Book Review: The cobbled climbs of Belgium are a mythical place and a mecca for any cycling nut to visit. “Hellingen: A Road Cyclist's Guide to Belgium's Greatest Climbs” is a book that explores these very climbs so famous, so beautiful and yet so very, very difficult. PEZ simply had to check this book out.
MAMILs: Middle-Aged Men in Lycra is a term coined by a British newspaper describing the phenomenon of, well, middle-aged men buying expensive racing bicycles, dressing up in team gear with lots of Spandex, and riding around in relentless packs to the extreme annoyance of motorists and fashionistas everywhere.
What cyclist is not fascinated by mountains? For those of us who don’t climb well due to (lack of) training, body type, lack of technical skill or, well, laziness, the ability to climb is one of the greatest gifts imaginable. There is joy in meeting the challenge, of savouring the view, of living through rocket-like descents. And at this time of year when many of us are plotting the great trips we will take in the coming months, more than a few are putting together that “once in a lifetime” experience riding Europe’s most famous climbs.
We know of a number of major cyclists who have come back to ride from life-threatening illnesses, whether it be Lance Armstrong’s cancer or Alberto Contador’s brain aneurysm, but very few who struggle with potentially life-threatening diseases. Enter Phil Southerland and his story about how one very willful young man has overcome diabetes to live normal life - as a pro bike racer.
There is something special about cycling in Italy: the mad tifosi at the Giro; pro riders with names like opera singers; the glorious scenery and the even better coffee awaiting at each rest stop. And, of course, the Classic Italian Racing Bicycle itself. But is the Classic Italian Racing Bicycle really all that special? After all, we are talking about a machine, a machine of steel tubing and with rubber tires and alloy components... Let's take a closer look at a book that answers that question.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a land, the United States of America, where some people believed there was a place for pro cycling and that an All-American Team could defeat the world. This was no fairy tale as the peculiar conjunction of an Olympic skating star, a determined construction worker and a fast-growing chain of convenience stores in 1980 made it possible.
When recently asked whether he was a racing cyclist in the style of Irish classics hardman Sean Kelly, up-and-comer Edvald Boasson Hagen professed to having never heard of Kelly, a major star of the 1980s. Although history is usually cherished by cycling fans–the oft-cited story of Eugиne Christophe and the blacksmith’s forge at the 1913 Tour de France comes to mind-- at some point things become so distant as to be seen as quaint and irrelevant to the modern world and our interests. Or terrifying, judging from how high you can fall on your face from a high-wheeler.
The road to cycling stardom is one of the toughest a few brave souls choose to follow, and scores more fall by the wayside than ever find success. Starting up that road is the subject of Daniel Lee’s very personal book about young Americans chasing the pro cycling dream and “the Belgian Hammer” features more than a few nightmares.
It is said that when the snow melts away and daylight lengthens, the thoughts of many turn towards romance. But for more than a few, it means the joyful return of the great one-day bicycle races and yet, as the recently-released VeloPress book “The Spring Classics,” suggests, the two things are not mutually exclusive.
One of my favourite cycling books is the Rapha Guide to the Great Road Climbs of the Pyrenees, reviewed here at PEZ in those far-off days of 2008, and I am delighted that author Graeme Fife and photographer Pete Drinkell have collaborated once again to produce a highly idiosyncratic and beautiful guide to yet more mountains for The Rapha Guide to the Great Road Climbs of the Southern Alps.