There are some books every cyclist should read, while we couldn’t ever hope to collect them all we’ve had a go at putting together a handful of our favourites. Whether they are tales of heroism in the pro peloton or travelogues that inspire you to plan a bikepacking adventure – these tomes will truly fuel your spirit of adventure and your passion for two-wheels. You don’t have to be a keen cyclist to read them either, there’s something for even the most ardent anti-bikers.
Full Tilt – Dervla Murphy
Imagine riding your bike from Dunkerque in France all the way to Delhi in India. It’d be a tough ask for even the hardiest of riders. Now imagine doing it in the 1960s as a solo female traveller and making your way through barely-visited countries like Afghanistan, Persia (modern day Iran) and Pakistan, traversing glaciers and the infamous Khyber pass along the way. This is exactly what Dervla Murphy did and her adventures along the way make up the pages of Full Tilt, a funny, inspiring book about the unending kindness of strangers and the limitless potential for adventure opened up by a bicycle. Dervla probably belongs on our list of awesome women cyclists too.
It’s All About The Bike – Robert Penn
A must-read for anyone thinking of buying a custom bike, in this relatively short book, author and journalist Robert Penn takes you on a fantastic journey around the world as he searches for the very best components to build his ‘dream bike’. He visits some very familiar companies along the way, including Cinelli, Chris King and Brooks England – all of whom we’ve featured on our blog this year.
Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France – Max Leonard
The Tour de France, cycling’s most famous event. Its winners are the biggest names in the sport, known by fans and non-fans alike. But what becomes of those at the back of the peloton, the ones struggling just to hang on, finishing hours and hours behind in the GC? In his amazingly well-researched book, Max Leonard delves into the lesser-known stories of la Grand Boucle, the men who, for various reasons finished dead last. Its pages hold tales of breakaway artists, dogged competitors, the unlucky and the indomitable. It’s out in paperback soon too.
How I Won The Yellow Jumper – Ned Boulting
This is just a good fun read for anyone interested in professional cycling, with a particular focus on the Tour de France. It’s by Ned Boulting, known for his appearances on ITV’s coverage of the race and a self-confessed newbie to cycling (at least when he first took the job he was). It’s a great peek into a life spent chasing the pros around France, interspersed with thoughtful meditations on the way cycling has changed Boulting’s perspective. There’s also a very funny follow-up called On The Road Bike, which looks at the even weirder world of British road cycling.
Bikenomics – Elly Blue
Be warned, you may find yourself becoming a fanatical bike evangelist after reading this one. It’s a slim volume but packs in loads and loads of amazing stats about cycling. Did you know for instance that the more cyclists a city has, the fewer crashes there are involving cyclists? Or that despite paying road tax, car drivers actually cost the state more than they put in, due to the enormous amount of damage each automobile does to road surfaces every year? Elly Blue’s book is full of gems like this and a definite one to keep handy when you’re arguing in the pub with your car-driving mates.
We know we’ve missed some, so leave your suggestions in the comments, or tweet them at us using the hashtag #bikebooks.