Books, Maps & DVDs
I hadn't heard about The Last Kilometre until I was asked to review it and it's a relief to come to a piece of work with no pre-conceptions and no trailers. After the recent non stop trailer for 'A Year in Yellow' I was thinking 'If I hear Cath Wiggins say "Which Bradley..?" one more time I shall head butt the TV. Not Cath's fault - but less is more.
'Made In England' is a big and beautiful book that showcases the frame builders, artisans if you will, behind the British hand-built steel bicycle.
I'm ashamed to confess that I only have Issue 2 of Rouleur - so all of Paul Fournel's essays on cycling were new to me when his book Veló dropped through the letterbox.
What do you get if you gather together some of the leading cycling journalists and ask them to contribute to an in depth historical encyclopaedia of cycling hardware? You get Bike! by Aurum Sports Press.
In the mid 1970's Eddy Merckx's career was beginning to draw to a close. By this time, even with just 3 tv channels - none of them showing cycling - everyone in the playground knew that Eddy Merckx was extraordinary. Looking like a cross between early Elvis and Bruce Lee, Merckx was like a swarthy brother of George Best; a brooding unpredictable hardman of cycling.
Back in 1996, I wanted Tony Rominger to win the Tour de France. Rominger had grit, panache - and wore one of those glorious Mapei jerseys covered in multi coloured cubes. I still have one in the wardrobe. Unfortunately Le Tour was won instead by a dead ringer for Sam the Eagle from The Muppet Show - the angry, air-gulping Dane, Bjarne Riis.
If, like me, you watched Armstrong's last winner's speech from the TDF podium in 2005 - as he admonished the world press and all those that 'can't believe in miracles" - were you asking yourself the same question I was? 'Has he really been riding clean and beaten a field of dopers for the past 7 years in a row - or does he not recognise what he's done as cheating?' Seven years later and the answer is finally here.
Reading seems to be a cyclist's second favorite pastime. There's a wealth of top cycling books out there and the latest to hit the road.cc desk is Balint Hamvas's photo book, Cyclocross 2011/2012.
Books on the Tour de France are ten a penny, throw a bidon into the sports section in Waterstones and you'll probably hit half a dozen. Books on the Giro D'Italia however are as rare as hens teeth, in fact I've never come across one, so The Story of the Giro D'Italia by Bill and Carol McGann, is a welcome addition.
The format is straightforward, it's a year by year history of the first 61 years, giving an overview of the race plus any interesting historical snippets.
On first reading Rob Penn's It's All About the Bike, I wrote that if the shiny bits we all ogle, weigh and covet are affectionately termed the generic bike porn, this book is the equivalent of Delta of Venus: erotica for the cycling fan. It's an account of Penn's search for the perfect bits for his perfect bike, but the joy of the way he has written this is that it's not just techie stuff for technoweenies.