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These are the top things I love in life:
- My husband and children
- My wider family
So, the next best thing to cycling has to be reading books about bikes!
‘Ride The Revolution: The Inside Stories from Women in Cycling’ edited by Suze Clemitson
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is a collection of short pieces about and by women involved in cycling. The book very much has a theme of road racing, which for me is great. There are chapters about pioneers of women’s racing, such as Beryl Burton through to current cycling superstar, Marianne Vos. The book does not just include riders, there are also tales from female mechanics, photographers, team managers and presenters.
As someone who is just getting into road racing and starting to follow women’s professional road racing, I found the book fascinating. If your interests lie mainly in mountain biking or other cycling disciplines, or in cycle campaigning or family cycling then this might be less your thing. However, the book is unique and well worth a read.
‘The Breakaway’ by Nicole Cooke
Up until now I have not been a huge fan of reading autobiographies by cyclists. Sorry, but I have always found them a bit dull. The Breakaway might just be the book that changes this. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
Nicole Cooke is one of the most phenomenal British cyclists ever – male or female. I am not going to list her achievements here as it would take too long and a quick google will easily find this information. Cooke’s book describes just how hard won her victories were. According to Cooke, not only was there little support for women in cycling at the time she was racing, there was active discouragement.
I think that Cooke has worked hard not to sound bitter in her book. Sometimes she achieves this. But after reading the book, I am surprised that she does not sound more angry and bitter about the way she was treated.
As a women who is now starting to get into road racing, I found the book fascinating. It gives a real insight into the tactics of elite road racing and the lifestyle adopted by the women who race.
I believe that the sport is slowly changing. Really slowly changing and mostly due to some incredible women within the sport who are forcing that change to come. I think that Nicole Cooke is one of those incredible women.
‘Scottish Bicycles and Tricycles’ by Louise Innes
This is a fairly short book covering the history of cycling in Scotland. The book mainly concentrates on bike building, although there is some mention of individual cyclists and cycle clothing from Endura.
To be honest, I found it quite hard work to read but perhaps that is because I am more interested in the people in cycling than the bike frames. There are some great old photographs in the book – this was my favourite thing about it.
If you are into the history of bike building in Scotland you will love this book.
‘The Bicycle Book’ by Bella Bathurst
This is a great book if you like reading random stuff about bikes.
There are interesting chapters on bicycle couriers, the history of bikes, frame building, road racing, and all sorts of bike related oddities. I found out lots of bike information I had never heard before in reading the book. Who knew there was such a thing as a watercycle?!
The book as a whole can feel a little disjointed. It reads a little as if Bella Bathurst found an interesting snippet of bicycle related information and decided to pursue it further, then got bored of it and moved on to the next interesting snippet. Perhaps she did. Even if so, it is still a very readable book.
‘Bike Nation: How Cycling Can Save the World’ by Peter Walker
I love this book.
Peter Walker is a political correspondent for The Guardian. He also co-runs the paper’s bike blog. In his book he uses research from around the world to present the arguments for promoting cycling, providing infrastructure for cycling and changing the current culture which is often highly motor-centric.
After the introduction ‘ not everyone on a bike is a cyclist’ the book covers bikes and health, feeling safe on the roads, social justice, big business and bikes, infrastructure, why cyclists are hated, political protests, bike helmets and cycling technology. If you are looking for a study or statistic to support anything to do with cycling, this is the place to find it.
Bike Nation is well written and easy to read. Even if you think you know all there is to know about promoting cycling, you will find something new in this book. I thought I knew about physical activity and health and that I was pretty good at being active, but the statistics in this book terrified me. I have put the move alert back on my garmin ever since I read it.
My only gripe about the book is the title. I think it would be an incredibly helpful book for non-cyclists to read, especially those who might be considering taking up cycling. However, I think the title limits the audience to those who are already committed cyclists (or committed bike riders).
‘Time-Trialling. Fly Through the Pain Barrier: Achieve Your True Potential in the Race of Truth!’ By Adam Topham
This is well worth a read if you race time trials or are thinking of doing so.
Adam Topham is a very successful amateur UK time triallist who fits his training around a full time job and a family. The book covers everything you could want to know about time trialling, including bikes, position, equipment, training, riding technique and nutrition.
Adam Topham is clearly a busy man so he gets straight to the point and his training only includes that which he views as really essential. He simply does not have time for things like one-legged reps, unless they are genuinely going to make him faster. I used the book to plan all my turbo sessions in the winter 2016-17. Although I had planned to get back to time trialling in 2017, this didn’t happen. However, I did start the year feeling incredibly fast and strong on the back of the sessions I had done.