Friday, February 22, 2013

Cycling Literature: Some Winter Recommendations

Winter should be a time to reflect on what we love.  It's a time to read.  Discovering the many good books on cycling has kept me motivated and interested in the sport and in training, and I hope it will do the same for those of you suffering from the cold-weather blues.

I've written several reviews over the years, although I recommend you just go right to the book itself and start reading:

Cycling books I recommend but haven't reviewed here:

Where should you start?

If you're looking for motivation, start with Tim Krabbe's The Rider.  It's a motivating book that elevates our sport to art; it helps you remember in February with beauty of what happens in May.  

Also good is Jean Bobet's moving classic, Tomorrow We Ride, on his years in the sport alongside his legendary brother, Louison.  Bobet's book, written years after his professional career, and after the death of his brother, embodies the old order of our sport; Bobet was a professional, but above all else he loved to ride with his brother, and that speaks to us club cyclists who enjoy cameraderie more than wins.

If you're looking for profundity, depth, and real insight into the mind of a genius, read Obree's The Flying Scotsman.  I read the book recently and it shook me up.  Obree is forthright about the depths of depression and mental problems he endured.  There is no clear redemption or hope in his work, except the glorious struggle to be the best in the world, to be on the very limit of what is humanly possible.  

Read Obree if you are looking for whatever is the opposite of Lance Armstrong.  I'm fairly certain Obree didn't use drugs because he could barely afford to feed himself.  I'm quite certain Obree consulted neither a public relations specialist nor an attorney when writing this shocking book.  And I'm quite certain that Obree has a deep understanding of human frailty, of suffering, of poverty, and of his own weakness--lessons Lance has yet learned.  I can identify with Obree, whereas Lance with his Strava "Come and Take It" tag--that guy's an alien.

And if you're not the reading type, see the movie.  Although it cuts out Obree's amazing voice and many of his profound observations, at least you get the story.


qualia said...

Back when I reviewed Parkin's _Dog in a Hat_, I thought it was shocking and gritty. Now it's kind of mundane.

Rollin' Polish said...

These are some great reads, but not books. IMO, the Coggan/Allen book is probably the most dangerously misleading book there is. I would advise cyclists not to read it.

I think The Secret Race was good and worth reading. The Obree stuff is awesome.

Running Through Kenya by Scott Douglas is great.

also any books by Lydiard, Liquori, and Harry Wilson have been pretty eye opening as well.