The Wheelsuckers' 2013 Christmas Books Guide

The surge in road cycling in the last few years has not passed unnoticed in the publishing industry and 2013 saw another bumper crop of books on all aspects of the sport.  Historical reads, autobiographies, manuals and guides. From coffee table books to tiny books you could slip in your rear pocket - there is something out there for all of us to enjoy.

Here is a round-up of some of the best books published over the last year and hopefully, if you've been very, very well behaved, you might be lucky enough to discover a copy of one or two of them sitting under your Christmas tree.  So when you have demolished the goose, licked the last drop of brandy butter from your bowl, settle down in your favourite armchair and immerse yourself in one of these great titles. 

Let's begin with La Grande Boucle. Need we remind you that 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of Tour de France? Not surprisingly, this historical milestone prompted several books commemorating the centenary.

In a move that must have led to shouts of  "Why didn't WE think of that!" from other cycling publishers, HarperCollins stole a march on their rivals with Mapping Le Tour - the first publication to show every route of every edition of the Tour de France, from the inaugural race in 1903 to this year's 100th edition. The book also includes a stage by stage breakdown of the 2013 parcours and a final section that focuses on the most iconic places the Tour has visited over the years and the equally memorable battles that have made legends of both mountains and men. Beautifully illustrated throughout and including large, full page maps of all the routes.

Mapping Le Tour by Ellis Bacon, published by Collins RRP: £25


Jam packed with wonderful images, Tour de France 100 is a rich document detailing the passion, intrigue, scandal and suffering of the first 100 years of the race. The informative and entertaining text by the author Richard Moore, provides an illuminating insight into the minds and personalities of the main protagonists of this most spectacular of sporting events; from the heroics of the first riders to compete in the race, through the era of Coppi and Bartali, Anquetil, Merckx and Hinault, to the Armstrong era and beyond.  A perfect marriage of photography and text over 250 large scale pages.

Tour de France 100 by Richard Moore. Published by Bloomsbury in hardback  RRP: £30


3404 kilometres, 21 stages, 21 stories . That is the simple premise behind Rouleur Centenary Tour de France, a collection of 21 essays commissioned by the esteemed cycling publication, Rouleur.  Seven writers were given three stages to record, accompanied by photographers. It is an eclectic mix, spanning former Guardian writer Richard Williams' take on the Tour's first visit to the ruggedly beautiful island of Corsica to sharing a cramped media booth with Eurosport commentators Carlton Kirby and Sean Kelly.  Perhaps the best of all is Geoff Waugh's photographic essay on the youngest and eldest riders in the race, Danny van Poppel and Jens Voigt.  It's an intriguing recollection: evocative, beautifully illustrated and encapsulating the chaotic madness that lies at the very heart of  La Grande Boucle.

Rouleur Centenary Tour de France published by Bloomsbury RRP: £40

The Tour de France peloton winds its way through the rugged mountains of Corsica, captured by Sebastian Schels in Rouleur Centenary Tour de France

Published last month by HarperCollins, The Pain and the Glory is the official insider account from Team Sky documenting the Tour de France campaign that resulted in Chris Froome clinching the maillot jaune in Paris. With contributions from all the major riders, including Froome, as well as Team Sky Principal Sir Dave Brailsford and members of the Team Sky staff, this is the official first-hand account of every twist and turn on the road to glory, which not only documents the Tour, but also every stage of Sky's 2013 Giro d'Italia campaign. Furthermore,  the pages are illustrated with the award-winning images of Team Sky’s official photographer, Scott Mitchell.

The Pain and The Glory  is published by Harper Collins in hardback. RRP: £20 ebook £13.39


Enough of the pros! Are you thinking of enrolling in a sportive next year, a Gran Fondo or even the Etape de Tour? Fitter, Further, Faster offers a complete guide to preparation for road riding and sportive events, aimed both at first-timers and more experienced cyclists alike.  Organised around a six-month timeline,  the book explains how to prepare your mind and body for an event and how to cope with the ride itself and, just as importantly,  guides you through the steps to take to make your recovery more effective. Written by experts in their respective fields, the book touches on diet, nutrition, cycling technique and group etiquette and coping with all the eventualities that a sportive might throw at you.  All of which is aimed at helping  you to attain your personal goal. Think of it as a personal coaching guide and you get the idea - all you need to do is motivate yourself!

Fitter, Further, Faster. Get Fit for Sportives and Road Riding, published by Bloomsbury in paperback RRP: £18.99


Forget your newspaper new quiz  this Christmas - to ensure hours of family fun drop a few subtle hints and ensure that Santa Claus stuffs a copy of the Collins Cycling Quiz book in your stocking! The book has over 2,000 questions broken down into three sections - easy, medium and difficult - to suit those with only a smattering of cycling knowledge to those with an encyclopaedic database, with questions ranging from Pot Luck to specific riders, races, teams and events. The Classics, the Grand Tours, British cycling legends, foreign cycling heroes are all covered as well as the Olympics.  Fun and varied, this is a great book to test the knowledge of your cycling friends, but as it is expertly disguised as a book of cycling stats and facts and you will find yourself leafing through the pages for hours, no doubt regaling your friends with cycling trivia on your next ride.

Collins Cycling Quiz Book is published by Collins RRP: £6.99


Once you can ride a bike you never forget. But how often do you analyse, really analyse, how you and your bike work as one?  This is what  award-winning science and technology journalist Max Glaskin sets out to explain  in Cycling Science. Illustrated with diagrams and illustrations throughout, each chapter explores a different aspect of cycling, from aerodynamics to frame design, materials to power output. If you have ever wondered if shaving your legs is going to shave time off your Strava segments then this is the book for you. Informative and illuminating on many subjects, but hugely entertaining, read this book and your love affair with your bike will become that little more intense!

Cycling Science: How rider and machine work together by Max Glaskin is published by Frances Lincoln Publishers RRP: £20


During the weeks of the Tour de France, Ned Boulting is a familiar face on our TVs and his affable personality and the way he thrusts his microphone into the bemused faces of exhausted Belgian domestiques in search of a soundbite, is one of the joys of the Tour coverage.  In  ON THE ROAD BIKE The Search for a Nation’s Cycling Soul Boulting turns his sharp journalistic eye onto the British cycling scene to explore why the UK has suddenly, almost inexplicably, become a nation obsessed with road cycling. And not only are more people cycling, we are also showing our more experienced Continental cousins how it really should be done!  It's very funny, surprisingly insightful and features telling  observations from a litany of engaging personalities along with Ned's amusing take on his own cycling experiences.  

ON THE ROAD BIKE by Ned Boulting  is published by Yellow Jersey Press RRP: £14.99

A sequel to the hugely successful 2011 publication Mountain High, the writer Daniel Friebe and photographer Peter Goding have once again returned to some of the highest cols in Europe to reveal  more brutal gradients for the masochists amongst us to explore. The climbs featured in  Mountain Higher: Europe's Extreme, Undiscovered and Unforgettable Cycle Climbs  may not be the most famous, yet that should in no way diminish their allure. Some of the routes are so off the beaten track that you would have had to rely on local knowledge to discover them. Fortunately Friebe and Goding have done the arduous groundwork and this book opens up a whole host of new climbs, each accompanied by technical details and route descriptions. Inspiring stuff and, like Sirens calling you to your doom, before you know it your will be booking flights to some far flung corner of the Czech Republic!

Mountain Higher by Daniel Friebe and Peter Goding is published by Quercus  RRP: £25


'THE VELOMINATI embrace cycling not as a pastime, but as a way of life, as obsessed with style, heritage, authenticity and wisdom as with performance. THE RULES is their Bible. It is an essential part of every cyclist's arsenal.'  Surely you've heard of 'The Rules'?  The Rules is, quite simply, the Cyclist's Bible as decreed by the hugely entertaining and engaging Frank Strack, founder of the website  Stack, by his own admission, is an obsessive who brings a lifetime of cycling experience to bear on such topics as how your bike should look, how you should look, the do's and don'ts of cycling etiquette and style and invariably citing the professionals as our true and worthy role models. The 93 rules are broken down into five chapters - The Disciple, The Ride , The Bike, The Aesthete and The Hardman - and cover a multitude of subjects, from why you don't need a valve cap to stories of cycling legends. Sometimes expansive, yet always entertaining - the entry for  the most famous of them all, Rule #5 'Harden the f**k up" is simply a photo of Fiorenzo Magni refusing to retire from  the 1956 Giro despite suffering a fractured collarbone,  an inner tube clenched between his teeth and tied to his handlebars to give him the necessary leverage to carry on cycling. Beneath the photo are the words: 'Any Questions?' Brilliant. You will learn much about cycling by reading this book, but even more about yourself.  An essential read for any road cyclist who takes himself far too seriously.

The Rules published by Sceptre in hardback RRP: £12.99


Some may argue that it is time to move on and leave Lance Armstrong in the gutter into which he fell. Others would counter that we should never forget the lessons learnt from the mucky saga. Film and books on the shamed Texan will continue to flourish and one of the first out of the bag since the 2012 revelations and that Oprah interview is a well researched, weighty tome, penned by two Wall Street Journal writers, Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell. In Wheelmen  they take a very analytical approach - using a wealth of sources, interviews and documents that shed light on the Big Lie and how Armstrong managed to hoodwink so many for so long. It's forensic  in its analysis and details Armstrong's  business and charity dealings and the lengths he was prepared to go to in order to ensure his systematic doping would never be revealed. Sporting a striking cover image of Armstrong looking accusingly outwards, much in the book will not be new - the headline grabber was that his ex-partner, the singer Sheryl Crow, witnessed Armstrong taking EPO - but as an exercise is revealing the sheer scope of the deception, then Wheelmen certainly succeeds.

Wheelmen by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell published by Headline RRP: £18.99


In his review of The Elite Bicycle Portraits of Great Marques, Makers and Designers, Wheelsuckers' member Julian Smart commented that it offered a 'small but revealing portrait of 29 companies and individuals, those whose contemporary contribution to the aesthetics and science of cycling goes beyond mere form and function. Each of the featured companies or craftsmen has an ethos and a cultural inheritance that transcends the mere act of producing a useable road machine.' With text by Graeme Fife, enhanced by the wonderful photography of Gerard Brown,  this is a book that sets out to record the skills, techniques, artistry and passion that, in the right hands,  fuse together to make superlative bikes and components. The authors have spread their net wide - well known international brands such as Brooks, Mavic and Selle Italia are featured,  alongside smaller companies producing bespoke and niche products. Yet all demonstrate the same devotion to their art.  As Julian notes in his review, this is 'a highly recommended book that one can pick up, browse through and glean a thrilling insight into the small but essential components that make up a class road bike.'

The Elite Bicycle by Graeme fife and Gerard Brown,  published by Bloomsbury  RRP: £35

Written by Guy Andrews, an accomplished bike mechanic and also the editor of Rouleur magazine, Complete Road Bike Maintenance Bike is a well illustrated and informative maintenance guide and the spiral binding is a neat idea as it allows you to place the book flat in front of you as you follow the guide. The book follows a familiar pattern and covers all bases to ensure your bike is kept running smoothly and is well up to date with current components, including a short chapter on electronic groupsets.  Each section has several photographs accompanying the text which is always very useful and the introduction features some useful tips on tools, grease and other bike maintenance stuff, including a guide on bike geometry and components.  There are a fair number of books on bike maintenance vying for our attention, but this well thought out book is one of the better ones. Informative, clear and up to date and if it saves you having to wheel your bike to your LBS, then  it will probably pay for itself after a month or two!

Complete Road Bike Maintenance by Guy Andrews is  published by Bloomsbury RRP: £18.99


There were several autobiographies published this year and one of the most eagerly anticipated was It's all about the Bike  penned by former pro and Team Sky Sports Director, Sean Yates. Tenacious, fearsome on and off the bike, Yates was a powerful and respected cyclist who won stages in the Vuelta and the Tour de France and briefly wore the maillot jaune in the TdF of 1994. More recently Yates, in his role with Team Sky, has often been credited as the brains and inspiration behind Bradley Wiggins' 2012 Tour victory.  He left the British Team in October 2012, though both parties denied that his exit was linked to the team’s strict anti-doping policies.  It's all about the Bike - the title is a conscious nod to the autobiography of his former Motorola team mate, Lance Armstrong -  revealed much of the internal workings of Team Sky and the bombshell that Wiggins almost quit the 2012 Tour de France after he was 'attacked' by team mate Chris Froome during a stage in the Pyrenees.  

It's All about the Bike by Sean Yates, published by Bantam Press  RRP: £18.99


A forum thread started by Wheelsuckers member Terry Hayward revealed that there is a growing band of cyclists obsessed by Simon Warren's guide to the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs. If you are one of those masochists ticking off the climbs featured in the book (and its sequel), but you are seeking a little more pain then Warren's latest offering will certainly appeal.  Hellingen is a pocket guide of the most brutal climbs of Belgium - infamous names like the Koppenberg, the Mur de Huy and the fearsome Col de Haussire, the latter Warren rates as the hardest of them all -'it's just brilliant' he quips! For a small book it packs a huge punch - maps and fact files accompany each entry and Warren includes short chapters on how to ride cobbles, some background on the different regions of Belgium and last, but not least, the all important checklist, which allows you to keep a record of the date you rode the climbs featured in the book . . . and your time. 'Give it 100% and enjoy' are Warrens closing words of encouragement!

HELLINGEN: A Road Cyclists Guide to Belgium's Greatest Cycling Climbs by Simon Warren, published in paperback by Frances Lincoln RRP: £9.99

Adrien Niyonshut is a Rwandan athlete who overcame the murder of his six brothers to become Rwanda's first professional road cyclist. The Land of Second Chances is an absorbing account charting Adrien's life and career and the formation of the Rwandan Cycling Team. Written by The Observer writer Tim Lewis, the book recounts the challenges of building a team in the shadow of the terrible genocide and atrocities that the country had so recently experienced . It's a compelling book, light years away from the pampered riders of the pro peloton. Lewis focuses on Adrien and also the two Americans who sought to build the Rwandan team - Jock Boyer and Tom Ritchey. For both men, Rwanda offered a second chance too: Boyer, the first American to ever ride in the Tour de France, was seeking his own redemption from a dark past and Ritchey, the inventor of the mountain bike, arrived in the country with the vision and the dollars to finance the formation of the team, yet he brought with him a personal crisis that threatened to undo the whole project. It's a book that successfully melds many facets and characters. At times deeply shocking, always moving and occasionally very amusing, The Land of Second Chances is ultimately an uplifting story of hope.

The Land of Second Chances by Tim Lewis, published by Yellow Jersey Press RRP: £16.99


The aptly titled Easy Rider is the autobiography of the former British professional cyclist, Rob Hayles. Rob retired from racing in 2011 after an impressive career spanning 27 years during which he won medals on the track  in both the Sydney and Athens Olympics  and  World Championship in 2005. Rob has been at the centre of the emergence of British Cycling, yet the changes in the sport since Rob turned pro in 1995 have been huge and his autobiography charts  his career, his role in British Cycling and the myriad changes in the sport he so loves. He also touches on his relationships with Bradley Wiggins, his friendship with David Millar and his huge respect for Mark Cavendish.  Hayles is held in great affection by many and is renowned for his laid back and affable charm - both of which are  evident throughout his humorous and engaging memoir.

Easy Rider by Rob Hayles, published by Bantam Press in hardback, RRP: £16.99

Not a new book for 2013, but a new edition: Maglia Rosa, Herbie Sykes' enthralling history of the Giro d'Italia, deserves a mention as it is arguably one of the best historical cycling reads of recent years.  This paperback second edition features a new cover - a stunning  image of Bertoglio and Galdós battling it out on the Stelvio in 1975 - some additional text, chapters and photographs. The book follows a roughly chronological path, but Sykes weaves together stories about the great riders with those of the lesser known gregarios to provide a wonderful insight into the Giro. 'Sexy, swaggering, beautiful, passionate, yet not infallible to scandal, corruption and suffering. In the hands of Sykes, the Giro is transformed from a mere cycling race into a metaphor for Italy itself and the riders who compete in the race are the cast members whose Herculean efforts and human frailties mirror all that is good and bad about the country'

Maglia Rosa by Herbie Sykes is published by Rouleur Books RRP: £25

To describe Sean Kelly as hard is somewhat of an understatement. The consummate professional, a gifted tactician and an ability to dig deep, to suffer and fearlessly ride his rivals into the ground, all combined to make him one of the most respected and revered riders of all time.  A private man, Hunger is Kelly's autobiography, charting his life from his humble beginnings in rural Ireland and his determination to pursue a career in cycling. 18 seasons he raced and his palmares includes the Vuelta title in 1988, seven straight wins in Paris-Nice, five Tdf stages and the maillot vert title on four occasions and victories in several of the toughest Monuments, In retirement, Kelly commentates on Eurosport and the astute and insightful observations that pepper his commentary are also evident in Hunger, especially when he offers sound, uncompromising advice on how to succeed in the sport he is so passionate about.

Hunger by Sean Kelly is published by Peloton Publishing RRP: £18.99


Christmas Books guide compiled by Dave Nash ©


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Comment by Dave Nash on December 7, 2013 at 19:12

I've just finished reading Ned Boulting's On the Road Bike - recommended reading. The Rules is excellent too. Land of Second Chances is definitely on my Xmas list - always good to read a book that illustrates that cycling enjoys such a passionate following in all corners of the World! 

Comment by Terry Hayward on November 23, 2013 at 22:44
Another Simon Warren book - OMG! And I actually thought Belgium was flat; what do I know!
Comment by Corinne Black on November 23, 2013 at 19:36

I fancy reading Hunger by Sean Kelly :)

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