One of the great ways to learn more about the sport of cycling, the history of the classics and the grand tours as well as the riders is to read some of the fantastic cycling books that have been written. There’s some great rider autobiographies, books about the Tour de France climbs and courses and some classic cycling fiction novels.
There’s also some great cycling resource books relating to the technical aspects of cycling like training and nutrition, using power meters and tips for masters age cyclists.
Here’s a selection of cycling books I have reviewed or read.
Cycling Book Reviews
Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp is a fictional story of six friends, five boys and one girl set against the backdrop of Mont Ventoux, Tom Simpson, cycling, friendship, life and death. A fantastic story.
Ride: A Memoir To My Father by Craig L Fry is a moving story of how cycling and the love of riding helped Craig Fry deal with the sudden loss of his father, Lindsay Fry, after he died of a pulmonary embolism soon after being diagnosed with end stage cancer.
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Other Cycling books I have read
Some of these I will come back to and do a full book review, off the top of my head and in no particular order these are the cycling books I have read …
The Obree Way by Graeme Obree – a cycling training manual a bit different from the usual. Graeme Obree was unique in cycling and his training methods are also unique. There are chapters on bike set up, turbo training sessions, psychology of preparation and racing, nutrition, pedaling and time trials.
Laurent Fignon: We Were Young and Carefree by Laurent Fignon – A fantastic book from the late Laurent Fignon who was a two time Tour de France winner, Giro winner and runner up in one of the most epic Tour de France battles ever, the 1989 Tour de France won by Greg Lemond. Laurent Fignon was one of the most flamboyant riders of the eighties and the book is well worth the read.
The Rider by Tim Krabbé – The Rider is one book every cyclist should read, a best seller in the Netherlands originally written in 1978. I won’t add to the hype here, just read it.
Rough Ride by Paul Kimmage – first published in 1990, Rough Ride is an account of Paul Kimmage’s life trying to make it as a pro-cyclist from his teenage years in Ireland then trying to make in Europe as a pro and eventually riding in the Tour de France. Rough Ride blew the lid off drug use in the peloton and Paul Kimmage was accused of spitting in the soup, well worth reading even 25 years on.
Cadel Evans: Close to Flying by Cadel Evans and Rob Arnold – A biography of Australia’s greatest cyclist Cadel Evans and his career culminating in winning the 2009 road world championship win.
The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France by Daniel Coyle and Tyler Hamilton – This was one of those books I read in one sitting, I just couldn’t put it down. A well written account of Tyler Hamilton’s career and the win at all costs culture of professional cycling and the doped up teams and doctors.
Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong by David Walsh – an account of the 13 year battle to expose Lance Armstrong’s cheating and doping ending with the stripping of Armstrong’s Tour de France titles.
The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography by Matt Rendell – This is the updated copy including the 2014 and 2015 investigation into Marco Pantani’s death. I’m going to put a review up soon on this book.
Cycle of Lies by Juliet Macur – another account of Armstrong’s cheating and lying and is quite different from the books above even though the subject is the same.
Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell – Another book about Lance Armstrong but different to The Secret Race and Cycle of Lies. It’s a look at the Armstrong conspiracy and doping scandal, Armstrong’s arrogance from a young age and an empire that was nearly too big to fail.
Slaying the Badger: Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault, and the Greatest Tour de France by Richard Moore – A book about another epic Tour de France battle that Greg Lemond featured in, this time winning against 5 time Tour de France winner and teammate Bernard Hinault. Epic reading for fans of Lemond and Hinault.
Put Me Back On My Bike: In Search of Tom Simpson by William Fotheringham – A story of one of Britain’s best ever cyclists, Tom Simpson was a world champion, wore the Tour de France yellow jersey and won Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Giro di Lombardia before a tragic early death on the barren moonscape of the Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France.
Andy Pruitt’s Complete Medical Guide for Cyclists by Andy Pruitt and Fred Matheny – Andy Pruitt was the founder of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and worked with Specialized on the Body Geometry range and bike fit system. The book is about bike fits, medical issues related to cycling including injuries and cycling dynamics. Great read if you want to learn more about bike fitting.
Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan, PhD – If you are going to spend $500 to $2,000 on a power meter for your bike then I suggest you get this book so you can get the most out of it. By far the best instruction manual you will get for using any power meter.
The Cyclists Training Bible by Joe Friel – Everything you need to train, race and succeed in cycling including training plans, using a power meter, nutrition, strength training, stretching and tips for masters racers. I bought a copy years ago and still go back and skim through every now and then.
The Rules – The Way of the Cycling Disciple by Velominati – The Rules is an entertaining guide to being a cyclist ” We are Cyclists, The rest of the world merely rides a bike” and covers most things from what to wear, how to wear it, priorities and just how to be a cyclist. The Rules is an enjoyable read, just don’t take it all too seriously.
A Dog in a Hat An American Bike Racer’s Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium by Joe Parkin – a 1987 story of an American amateur racer trying to make it in Belgium.
Come and Gone A True Story of Blue-Collar Bike Racing in America by Joe Parkin – the sequel to A Dog in a Hat has Joe returning to the USA looking for a team eventually joining Coors Lite.