It is an apparent given that cycling requires not so much talent as an ability to suffer. Greg Lemond said that: “It never gets easier. You just get faster.” Now expat Brit Jon Malnick has written a droll and novel book about the relationship between pain and suffering, and riding your bicycle called Into the Suffersphere - Cycling and the art of Pain is a peculiar and engaging read.
2017 marked the 200th anniversary of Baron Drais's ride around Mannheim on his Laufmaschine, generally held to be the predecessor of our carbon-framed, electronically-shifted disc-braked wonder bicycles. From then to now, with its detours, fashion victims, and astringent personalities, is the subject of well-known British author Michael Hutchinson's book.
January 13th would have been Marco Pantani's 50th birthday: Don't be misled by the title of this excellent book. “Pantana Was A God” is not a panegyric, a worshipful recounting of the life of the last pro cyclist to win the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in the same year. It is two books in one - a masterful look at when Pantani triumphed, and brief remembrances by those who knew him.
Bookshelf: On January 2 every year there is a big event in Castellania, a tiny village in Italy's Piedmont region. This year the morning began with a mass in the little church, there was a special opening of Casa Coppi, and in the afternoon a visit to nearby Novi Ligure and the Museo dei Campionissimi. Because on January 2, 1960, sixty years ago, Fausto Coppi died and a cycling legend began.
Bookshelf Top Ten: The PEZ literary editor, Leslie Reissner, has had a busy 2019 with a book or film review published nearly every Sunday through the year. There has been a lot of top class cycling books this year for Leslie to peruse and so, here is his choice of book reviews from 2019: As he says: "in no particular order since these were all really good:"
Bookshelf: As we all know, Europe is the Promised Land of Cycling and as a professional athlete if you want to make it big you need to make it there. 2019 saw a Colombian, Egan Bernal, victorious, and a fascinating new book, “The Big Climb,” recounts the ups and downs of a South American country's love affair with pro racing.
In the movie “Breaking Away,” there is a scene in which the hero competes in a bike race where we realize that nobody in the race has a clue about tactics. Peter Cossins' excellent book, “How the Race Was Won: Cycling's Top Minds Reveal the Road to Victory,” presents the story of tactics from a historical standpoint and also through interviews with those involved in the sport.
One of the most remarkable sportsmen in cycling history came not from what we typically consider the heartlands of cycling and did not make his mark on the track or in famous stage races. In an age of hard men, Sir Hubert Opperman, “Oppy,” as he was universally known, is the subject of a book by Daniel Oakman about the very full life of a public figure, both as an athlete and a politician.
Cycling offers a grand buffet of disciplines, from the narrow specialities of track racing to the diversity needed for the open road, mountains or the looney antics of cyclocross. The origins, history and present state of road racing are nicely summarized in author Chris Sidwells' book, “The Call of the Road: The History of Cycle Road Racing.”