2020 saw the creation of a new website by a group of writers focused on providing a way of satisfying our need for good literature during the pandemic. Covid-19 continues, but the crew at La Course en Tete has not been idle and the result is their second annual review of the pro racing season: “Racing in the Time of the Super-Teams.”
Phil Liggett was the commentator who was as much a part of professional bike racing as the riders team managers and the Tour de France publicity caravan. Now Demand Films presents a documentary about the life and times of Phil Liggett, playing at your local cinema (at least in Canada) on October 25.
For someone just coming into the world of cyclesports, the terminology, concepts and history can perhaps be baffling. How can you win the Tour de France without winning a single stage? Who was the Eagle of Toledo? What is the Cima Coppi? When you ride tempo up the Alpe and the elastic snaps, does the Man With the Hammer come? Thanks to a lovely little book by Tom Bromley, all will be made clear.
Jack Thompson grew up following the Tour de France on middle-of-the-night broadcasts in his homeland and dreaming of competing in the race himself. He came to realize that he was not fast enough for the pros but still the dream was there and in July he set out alone to win the 2021 Tour, sort of. It was to be “the Amazing Chase.”
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.
It is said that there are people who live to eat and others who eat to live and for some of us enough cycling means we can eat whatever we want. “Eat Bike Cook” is a wonderful little book that really is about the joys of riding and the pleasures of eating, with an original viewpoint.
In Michael Blann's spectacular book of mountain photographs, Susannah Osborne writes: “... mountains are... where the sport's heroes are born, and crushed.” The amazing images, and personal stories from some of cycling's biggest stars perfectly illustrate this huge spectrum.
As focused as we are on cyclesport, it should not be forgotten that the invention of the bicycle was aimed at solving transportation problems. Dave Walker has followed up his 2017 book “The Cycling Cartoonist” with a new volume with more of a transportation and environmental focus, with charm and educational value.
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 book, “The Big Climb,” recounts the ups and downs of a South American country's love affair with pro racing.