Top 10 Cycling Books

David Quigley

There are not too many cycling books out there and even fewer that are actually any good.

If a book is about cycling, I have to buy it. If only I spent as much time cycling the bike as I do reading about cycling it. Here are my top 10 (of the books I have read so far at least), I am sure everyone else has their own favourites so feel free to leave a comment below telling me how poor my taste is.

1. French Revolutions – Tim Moore

A couch potatoe attempts to ride the course of the Tour De France. The funniest book ever written about cycling, end of story.

2. Sean Kelly – A Man for All Seasons – David Walsh

Before David Walsh was known for his crusade against Lance Armstrong, he was still a very fine writer and this 1984 Biography of Kelly’s career to date is brilliantly written. It is also sadly desperately difficult to get your hands on.

3.  Rough Ride – Paul Kimmage

The life of a domestique on the European scene in the mid eighties. Famous for it’s honesty about doping (the first book to spit in the soup), it is also a brilliant insight into  the non-superstars for whom cycling is a job and a low paid one at that.

4. Flying Scotsman – The Graham Obree Story – Graham Obree

Better than the (surprisingly decent) movie of the same name. It is almost a Cinderella story, with the unconventional and eccentric genius Obree overcoming all odds to reach the top of the game. Its like a Rocky movie on a bike basically. Despite the downbeat tone, there are parts when you will nearly be cheering aloud reading this book.

5. From Lance to Landis – David Walsh & Pierre Ballester

Well… if Paul Kimmage spat in the soup these two guys dropped their pants and took a dump in it. An eye opening and convincing insight into the murky ethics of cycling centered around Lance Armstrong and Flyod Landis. Lance didn’t sue over this one…… says a lot. If you still think Lance is innocent, this may give you pause for thought.

6. Bad Blood – Jeremy Whittle

An account of the history of doping in cycling, from the early days of drugs that didn’t make you any better (but made you feel you were), to the modern wonder drugs, prosthetic genitalia and more recent scandals. Whittle somehow makes this light and entertaining reading rather than the more forensic approach of the David Walsh books on the same subject matter.

7.  The Rider – Tim Krabbe

A short and strange book, initially written in Dutch and translated to English. It all takes place in one bike race and is told from the perspective of one rider and the thoughts that are going through his head. Anyone who has raced will identify with this book. Unique.

8. It’s not about the bike – Lance Armstrong

Love him or loathe him, whether he is a doper or not, this is a gripping book. One mans battle against cancer told in gruesome detail against the backdrop of the pro cycling scene. It is an incredible book, not especially well written but a good read for cyclists and non-cyclists alike. Regardless of what you think of Lance and whether or not his victories were tainted (as most were in that era), this is still inspirational stuff.

9.  The RAS – Tom Daly

Marketed as a history of Ireland’s premier event, it is far more than that. It details the history of Irish cycling from the mid fifties to 2003. Once you are finished with this you will be able to name all of the legends of Irish Cycling. A must for any Irish cyclist with an interest in the sport. Tough to find now, but still possible to pick up secondhand copies of this large hardbacked, heavily illustrated masterpiece for about £20 on marketplace.

10. The Cyclists Training Bible – Joe Friel

The definitive training manual for cyclists. Now on it’s 4th edition. Compulsory if you want to understand how training works (also look at Edward Greenes, Serious Cycling for an even more scientific approach).

Honorable Mentions:

Stephen Roche – My Road to Victory, Bradley Wiggins – In Pursuit of Glory.

5 Responses to Top 10 Cycling Books

  1. admin says:

    Actually, another worthy mention is “The Man Who Cycled the World” by Mark Beaumont, and the BBC mini series of the same name (both of which I have at home). Its more of a travel book than anything but I thought it was great.

  2. admin says:

    And I nearly forgot, if you are like me and should not be allowed to be without adult supervision in the presence of a set of allen keys, then Zinn and the Art of Roadbike maintenance by Leonard Zinn is the book for you.

  3. Mark Kirwan says:

    I know it sounds weird but its brilliant. All about Jacques Anquetil. He packed some action into a fairly short life. Hence the title of the book.
    Paul Howard’s the author.

  4. admin says:

    I didn’t have that Anquetil book, have just ordered it on Bookdepository. He sounds like one strange dude, I had heard the stories before alright, seems like a guy who did it his own way. Have the Coppi and Fignon books too, perhaps I will have to re-do this top 10 shortly.

  5. Mark Kirwan says:

    The coppi book is another great read. How they did it in those days is beyond me. 9 or 10 gears and the roads in sh&% from the war.