There is a very special jersey that, once you win it at a one day event, it is yours for a year wherever you race. This jersey, is of course, the glorious rainbow-striped confection first donned by Alfredo Binda in 1927. Its fascinating history is the subject of “Chasing the Rainbow: The Story of Road Cycling's World Championships” by Giles Belbin.
Author Peter Cossins describes in his history of that first 1903 Tour de France, the inelegantly titled “Butcher, Blacksmith, Acrobat, Sweep,” the original Tour de France, something totally new and untried and flawed in many ways, “should be considered as one of the greatest events in sporting history.”
Australia, once deemed primarily suitable as a dumping-off place for convicts, is in fact a stunningly beautiful land. Its wild countryside has attracted explorers and adventurers, but cycling around it takes a special dedication. Some of the brave and/or eccentric souls who did are the subjects of a new book by Daniel Oakman, “Wild Ride.”
The Covid-19 delayed 2020 Tour de France has eventually started and we all hope it will go all the way to Paris in three weeks time, but at least we have racing to watch. To go along with what we will see on the TV, Rapha have put together a collection of Tour maps covering each year from 1903 until 2018.
The highest drama in the Tour de France takes place in the mountains and the changing beauty of these alpine landscapes differentiates pro cycling from all other sports. “Tour de France Climbs from Above” is an excellent introduction to the legendary climbs, not only from the historical standpoint but for someone planning to experience the roads themselves.
Italian book “Bicycles: Past, Present and Future” by Roberto Gurian, with graphic design by Maria Cucchi, has been translated by Robert Bethel into English, but marvelous bike photos speak in all languages. PEZ literary editor, Leslie Reissner, gives us his thoughts on this wonderful bike book.
Sports fans love comparisons. Baseball is famous for its obsession with statistics (“The most successful left-handed pitcher throwing against a Chicago team on a Tuesday evening...”) and certainly all sports have record-holders. Pro cycling defies easy comparison of its stars. Can we figure out who was truly The Greatest of All Time?
“Hearts of Lions,” a history of American bicycle racing, was originally released in 1989 and told the story of the ups and downs of the sport until the moment when Greg LeMond won the Tour in 1986. Now an expanded edition has been released that catches up with the three decades since, taking us up to the 2016 Olympics.
There is an old joke that the only famous Belgians anyone can name are Hercule Poirot and Tintin and both are fictitious but not only has Belgium produced celebrated cyclists, but it has given us the best one of all: Edouard Louis Joseph Merckx. “Merckx 525” is a particularly good book published by Velopress nearly a decade ago that gives us his accomplishments in visual form and is well worth seeking out.