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…
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…
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.
PEZ reviews Paris-Roubaix: A Journey Through Hell. As Greg Lemond famously said about cycling:” It doesn’t get any easier. You just get faster.” And for a sport that values the ability to suffer, the least easy of all races is Paris-Roubaix, variously feted as “the Queen of the Classics” and cursed as “the Hell of the North.”