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Rider’s Reads: 5 Must-Read Cycling Books!

There’s always time for a good book in your life, so why not read about your favourite sport and pastime while you’re doing it? Cycling and cyclists have been grabbing more headlines than ever before: from sporting scandals to fashion rags, cycling is in and in a big way too. There’s no shortage of good cycling reads but to make things easier for you, we’ve listed our top 5 favourite cycling books and hope that you stick them on your birthday wish list! Books make for easy and thoughtful presents, so make of note of these titles and you might find one in your hand sometime soon!

The Secret Race – Daniel Coyle & Tyler Hamilton

This is the book to read at the moment; what we have is the result of the Armstrong scandal, written by a bestselling author (Coyle) and the man who was responsible for bringing doping under the spotlight (Hamilton). This is the result of numerous interviews and incredibly detailed research into the doping tragedy that has scarred the sport of cycling. The Secret Race expertly documents the behind the scenes world of drugs and doping that went unchecked and wild beyond the sight of the public eye. It’s an exposé for sure but it’s written in a compelling and thrilling way – a definite must for any cycling fan.

The Rider – Tim Krabbé

The Rider was first published in Dutch way back in 1978 and is a testament to sports literature as a genre! The novella is set against the backdrop of a fictional race in south west France; the 150km race is condensed into 150 pages, with the rider recalling tactics and battles, pleasure and pain, dark philosophies and gripping manoeuvres. It’s a book you really need to read as no summary can really do it justice. This semi-autobiographical novella is one to have in your library.

On Your Bicycle* – James McGurn

If you were to do a cursory internet search on Jim McGurn, you may not discover a cover-all Wikipedia entry but you’ll find a long list of cycling related links. McGurn has done a lot for cycling and this book is one of the most important! First released in 1987, a new and updated version came out in 2000 featuring full colour illustrations of the social history of cycling; from the early pioneering models to the cycling boom, the rise and fall of the pedaled machine’s popularity. If you’re looking for a colourful insight into bikes and the people that ride them, then this is the perfect book for you.

* : – An Illustrated History Of Cycling

Rough Ride – Paul Kimmage

Hailed by many as one of the greatest books that provides real insight into the world of sport cycling, Rough Ride does exactly that. Kimmage’s early career as a professional cyclist allows him to unleashe a gritty approach to the sport. The book features the highs and lows of a cyclist, sharing both his triumphs and frustrations in a very frank manner. Since his retirement from cycling, Kimmage has made a name for himself as a sports writer and a compelling one at that. It does seem a shame that so many of the top cycling related books are aimed at the behind-the-scenes scandals but this one balances the darkness and the light in a captivating way – it is definitely worth a read.

The Breakaway – Nicole Cooke

As cycling careers go, there are few more successful than that of Nicole Cooke; her autobiography The Breakaway is easily the best read on the list. The book is special because it’s written from a female perspective and although that sounds odd (c’mon, this is the 21st century) it reflects exactly how the cycling world is dominated by male athletes and their subsequent scandals. Cooke was the first Briton to win the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and also become a World Champion and Olympic gold medalist in the very same year. With such a fine record, you’d have expected her to be the face of British and world cycling but sadly for all of her success, she’s hardly a household name. This book provides an unflinching insight into the sexist discrimination in the sport as well as a success story of one woman’s arduous sporting journey. If you have to buy one cycling book – make it this one.

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