Christmas gift guide 2013: cycling books

A guide to ten of the best books on the market for the cyclist in your life

It is just two weeks until the big jolly man slips down your chimney, and there are plenty of gifts on the market for the cyclist in your life – or yourself.

We’ll be reviewing many of these on RCUK in the build-up to Christmas, from gear to bikes to the dream ‘money can’t buy’ wish list.

It’s just two weeks until Christmas, and we will be offering ideas on what to buy the cyclist in your life for December 25

First up, is books – with the Christmas holidays and a more than outside chance of poor weather, there is no better time of year to grab a good book and read.

This year has been another bumper year for cycling books too, and we have chosen ten of the best on the market to add to your Christmas wish list.

Any we’ve missed? Let us know in the RCUK Forum, or below.

Cycling Anthology: Tour de France special edition

A collection of essays celebrating the Tour de France, which of course celebrated its 100th staging this year, this edition of the Cycling Anthology is packed full of revealing tales from some of the leading writers on the sport.

From Klaus Bellon Gaitain’s celebration of Colombia’s fabled climbers to Richard Williams’ portrait of his boyhood Tour hero, Charly Gaul, this edition of the Anthology will serve as a source of reminiscence for older fans or a vast encyclopaedia of knowledge for those newer to the sport.

Daniel Lloyd’s personal memoirs of contesting the 2010 Tour, Ned Boulting’s portrait of Brian Venner, the man behind all of British television’s Tour coverage, and Brendan Gallagher’s account of the perils of life reporting on the Tour all  feature and make an excellent read. See our review here.

Rapha City Guides

London-based clothing brand Rapha combined to produce this collection of cyclist-friendly guides to some of Europe’s finest cities.

The collection features guides on the picturesque cycling heartlands of Amsterdam and Antwerp/Ghent, the historic and beautiful Berlin, vibrant cosmopolitan centres like London, Milan and Paris, the Catalonian paradise of Barcelona, and Northern Europe’s premier cycling capital, Copenhagen.

Intended to be small enough to stow within the pockets of a cycling jersey, each guide is available within a box set, priced at £25. The books feature a raft of advice for cyclists, from cycling-friendly neighbourhoods to advice on racing and training all contained within a typically under-stated cover.

Balint Hamvas, “Cyclo-cross 2012/13”

RCUK readers will be familiar with the work of Balint Hamvas, whose stunning cyclo-cross photos adorn our galleries from some of the biggest races of the season. And once again, he has collected the best of the previous season into this superb annual – the perfect coffee table book.

Packed full of images from the toughest of cycling’s disciplines, Balint believes he clocked nearly 22,000 miles on the road as he chronicled all the happenings from his labour of love.

The self-published, 200-page hardback book aims to capture ‘the atmosphere of the venue, the passion of the fans and the rough beauty of this sport’. It contains photos intended to capture the ambience of the ‘cross meet, as well as the action on the course, and features stars of the sport including Marianne Vos and Sven Nys. Perfectly encapsulating the allure of ‘cross, the book is available for £29.99. For a sneak peek at some of the images, look here.

Sean Kelly, “Hunger”

Irish legend Sean Kelly was a true hero of cycling in the 1980s, his four Tour de France green jerseys, 1988 Vuelta a Espana victory (and 16 career stage wins), Classics successes and unsurpassed domination of Paris-Nice are the stuff of legend. 

And the man who now splits his time between commentating on the sport which made him and his role with the An Post Chain Reaction team he founded has written of his illustrious career in this autobiography.

If you want a book of intrigue, of naming and shaming, almost the default setting for recent cycling memoirs, you will need to look elsewhere. Kelly’s book, like his career, is solely concerned with the hard business of professional cycling.

This insider account of the aformentioned victories, and many, many more that litter the Irishman’s glittering palmares is a story every cycling fan should be familiar with. For those new to the sport, it is a great read of one of the great careers of cycling’s recent past. For those old enough to remember the Irishman’s success, it is a great opportunity to reminisce on some of the finest achievements of the great Kelly.

David Walsh, “Inside Team Sky”

David Walsh built his reputation as the journalist who did most to expose the secrets behind Lance Armstrong’s career.

But this inside account chronicles the brighter side of cycling, and in particular the rise of a new hero of the sport – Chris Froome.

Bidding to repeat Team Sky and Sir Bradley Wiggins’ 2012 Tour de France success, Froome had the weight of his adopted nation’s expectations upon his shoulders this year.

Walsh tells the story of how he rose to the challenge, told by those closest to the men in blue and black.

Travelling with Team Sky, Walsh’s book features contributions from all the key figures within the team, to give an inside account of the story which gripped the nation back in June and July, as the rise and rise of British cycle sport continued on the greatest stage of all.

Charly Wegelius, “Domestique”

Finnish-born Brit Charly Wegelius never won a professional race. Nil. Nada.

But the work he performed for his team-mates in the peloton earned him a big reputation nevertheless as one of the key domestiques of his time.

His autobiography, aptly titled Domestique, tells the tale of less glamorous side of the sport, and a career Wegelius admits would not be possible now.

It also chronicles a different age of cycling; an age immediately preceding the sport we all now know and love – an era when, in Wegelius’ own words, the sport was ‘for eccentrics and people who couldn’t afford cars’.

Autobiographies chronicling triumph are in plentiful supply, but Wegelius talks of a triumph of a different kind, of making his mark in the sport through sheer hard work and drive.

Mark Cavendish, “At Speed”

Mark Cavendish has already produced one autobiography, with Boy Racer telling the story of his life before cycling and his battle to reach the top.

Having sealed the 100th victory of his career at this year’s Giro d’Italia, with the 2011 World Championship, points classification successes at all three Grand Tours, and 25 Tour de France stage wins to boot, it is fair to say the Manx Missile has now made it.

And this, effectively volume two of the Mark Cavendish story, tells the story of what it is like to be the undisputed king of sprinting.

Life at 28 is good for the Manxman, now married to former page three girl, Peta, and heading into his second year with Belgium-based Omega Pharma-Quickstep, where he will be reunited with former HTC wingman Mark Renshaw. But life at the top is not always easy, and At Speed tells the insider account of one of the most successful riders in the modern peloton.

Rod Ellingworth, “Project Rainbow”

Project Rainbow tells the story of how British Cycling coach Rod Ellingworth turned Mark Cavendish from an overweight, scally teenager into the 2011 world champion. However, it is much more than just that. It is also a modern history of British cycle sport, an insider account of the rise of Great Britain and Team Sky, a coaching manual – relevant to many sports, not just cycling – and at its heart an epic true story of gritty determination, tragedy and triumph.

A former pro rider himself, Ellingworth was an integral part of the founding of British Cycling’s now famed academy, before moving on to senior roles with professional teams, encapsulated by his position as performance manager at Team Sky. Double Olympic champions Ed Clancy and Geraint Thomas are among his charges, and he is still close to Cavendish. Read our full review here.

Rob Hayles, “Easy Rider”

One of the first success stories in British cycle sport’s emergence as a cycling super power, Rob Hayles joined the national squad with it staring into the abyss and left with them on the brink of becoming the world-conquering giant we know today.

His career saw him become a three-time Olympic medallist, and twice world champion – winning the madison and team pursuit in 2005.

Hayles played a crucial part in British Cycling’s incredible rise, even if he failed to attract quite the same plaudits as the likes of Sirs Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins and his good friend Mark Cavendish.

Hayles’ autobiography is littered with tales and anecdotes of his illustrious former team mates.

It is as much a story of British cycle sport’s rise as it is autobiography.

A chronicle of one of the most phenomenal success stories in world sport, Easy Rider provides an in-depth account of just how Great Britain came to rule the cycling world.

Sean Yates, “It’s All About the Bike”

Rule number four tells us ‘it is always, without question, about the bike’ – a sentiment to which Sean Yates, one of the finest road men this country has produced, clearly subscribes.

Yates, who will be behind the scenes at Britain’s newest team, NFTO, next year, tells the story of his own career on the bike – a fascinating insight into his time in the peloton alongside the likes of Kelly, Roche, and Millar.

It also contains a chapter written by his ex-wife, an interesting perspective and somewhat unique to an autobiography.

And the story of course, is brought up to date with his part in Sir Bradley Wiggins’ 2012 Tour de France triumph, as he famously screamed team orders to Chris Froome as the Kenyan-born Brit accelerated on La Toussuire.

It’s All About the Bike offers a great insight into life both in the peloton and behind-the-scenes.

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