My husband is a man obsessed with two-wheeled contraptions (both tinkering with and riding them). Today is his birthday, but we won’t discuss the number.
Okay, I doubt I will ever again use a simile similar to the one I just shared. If you love bicycling as much as my husband does, one of these books should “speak” to you. I guarantee this will be a much safer ride than climbing the Col de la Madeleine or L’Alpe d’Huez …
The Pre-Scandal Lance Armstrong Autobiography Is Worth Reading, But…: Don’t assume I will let Lance off easy–I won’t. I realize you probably think his 2013 mea culpa (regarding the blood-doping expertise he acquired between 1999 and 2005) still detestable.
Nevertheless, the story of how he beat the testicular cancer that spread to his lungs, abdomen, and brain is simply remarkable. And talk about a great book title: It’s Not About the Bike!
Armstrong was diagnosed in October 1996 (at age 25), finished his aggressive chemotherapy in December 1996, and was declared cancer-free by February 1997. Not too long after that, he was picked up by the U.S. Postal Service’s cycling team. This book is one heck of an autobiographical ride. And it’s available dirt-cheap on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and eBay, and…
…Wheelmen, the Post-Scandal Book, Uncovers Armstrong’s “One Big Lie”: It’s easy to predict a book regarding Lance Armstrong’s fall from professional-cycling grace would be ruthlessly backbiting. But as written by accomplished Wall Street Journal reporters Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell, Wheelmen “paints a living portrait of what is, without question, the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports.”
The saddest part of this scandal isn’t Mr. Armstrong’s seven Tour de France wins being stricken from the record like the female pharaoh Hatshepsut being obliterated from Egyptian obelisks and temples. It’s that he had no choice but to resign from the nonprofit he founded, the Lance Armstrong Foundation (i.e., livestrong.org).
The complicated flowchart (click the link and scroll down to the 8th row) printed on the book’s inside cover will keep you busy for hours…
You Aren’t a Cyclist Until You Become Acquainted with The Bike Snob: There is a blogger named Eben Weiss who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and writes a monthly column for Bicycling magazine. He’s better known as the Bike Snob (@bikesnobnyc). His first book, Bike Snob, hit the road (get it?) in 2010.
His second book, The Enlightened Cyclist, is subtitled Commuter Angst, Dangerous Drivers, and Other Obstacles on the Path to Two-Wheeled Transcendence. For the family that rides together, I highly recommend the Bike Snob’s 2013 release, Bike Snob Abroad: Strange Customs, Incredible Fiets, and the Quest for Cycling Paradise.
Each book brazenly displays the author’s “trademark biting wit and wisdom” via hilarious anecdotes. If you’re not yet enticed enough to read at least one of the Bike Snob’s books, pedal away your bicycling woes by reading his blog.
This Book by the Son of Trek Bicycle’s Co-Founder Is a Bittersweet Ride: One Last Great Thing is only 130 pages long; you have no excuse not to read it. It’s a candid, funny, and loving tribute by John Burke to his father, Richard Burke, who died in 2008. (John Burke is the Trek Bicycle Corporation’s current president.)
He blends the company’s fascinating history (founded in 1976) with revealing, personal stories in a way that will hook you into reading the book. The most captivating part is when John Burke spills to his father (affectionately known as “The Big Guy”) on his deathbed what he considers their 20 greatest moments together.
Grab a box of tissues and prepare to be inspired by One Last Great Thing!
The Updated Edition of Graeme Fife’s Book Is an Epic Tour de…: I’ll preface my spiel regarding Tour de France: The History, The Legend, The Riders by sharing that the 2011 paperback version is almost 500 pages long. The author’s exhaustive research merges with a narrative style that conveys why dedicated cyclists and non-riders alike continue to be mesmerized by this grueling Gallic competition.
Here’s what I consider the most profound quote in the book, attributed to Henri Desgrange, the “father of the Tour”: “…to win the Tour, he said, requires two things–tête et jambes… head and legs.” For only the most dedicated and patient of readers…
Before Armstrong and LeMond, There Was “The Cannibal” (Eddy Merckx): Based on my research, it’s clear that many bicycling enthusiasts consider Edouard Louis Joseph Baron Merckx of Belgium the greatest pro-cycling racer of all time. He won the Tour de France five times between 1961 and 1978, but that’s not the only reason he is so revered in the sport.
Per The Guardian’s review of one Eddy Merckx biography, Half-Man, Half-Bike (by William Fotheringham), “Merckx’s style of racing could be summed up in two rules: 1. accelerate; 2. keep going and don’t look back.” Methinks this is why he was nicknamed “The Cannibal.”
Oddly enough, another Merckx biography was published almost simultaneously in 2012: Eddy Merckx, The Cannibal (by Daniel Friebe). I don’t have the audacity to tell you which is the better book. Pull out a quarter from your wallet or pocket and flip it to decide which one you’ll read first!
Well, these are all the bicycling books I found during my in-home scavenger hunt. I realize I’m excluding plenty of other well-known professional riders and cycling sagas. Here are more bike-centric books for your consideration:
- Slaying the Badger: Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault, and the Greatest Tour de France (by Richard Moore)
- Put Me Back on My Bike: In Search of Tom Simpson (by William Fotheringham)
- We Were Young and Carefree (autobiography by Laurent Fignon)
- Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France (autobiography by Floyd Landis)
- From Lance to Landis (by David Walsh–a companion piece to the Floyd Landis book…)
- The Story of the Giro d’Italia (by Bill and Carol McGann)
Do you happen to be a bicycling buff? If you are, were any of these book recommendations new to you? For those who don’t care for spinning wheels or bicycles built for two, please be kind enough to share this post with the amateur riders in your life (thank you).
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing or educational copy. Please call Lori Shapiro at 856-810-9764 or email By All Writes LLC at firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-obligation project quote today!