Books, Maps & DVDs
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.
Confessions first. I came to this book from two angles. I read and loved Bathurst's The Lighthouse Stevensons so I was desperate to get her take on things two-wheeled. On the other hand, I wondered if I was the reader she was aiming for after 30 years pedaling, although, hitting page five, it became clear I qualify on the same grounds as Bathurst herself, who wanted to write something for 'the sort of cyclist who liked cycling, and reading, and stories, and had long ago given up any desire to experiment with exogenous EPO.'
Writing an encyclopedia by yourself is a herculean task especially on a subject as diverse as cycling but that's exactly what William Fotheringham has attempted with his Cyclopedia. Does he succeed in his task? Yes he does, this is a fact packed read that you can dip in to or just sit down and keep turning the pages. Does the Cyclopedia encompass everything you could possibly want/need to know about cycling between its yellow covers? No, that would impossible.
A book aimed quite squarely at the complete cycling neophyte, ‘Bicycle’ is designed to be a one-stop shop for anyone starting out on two wheels or as the book's strapline says "Love your bike: the complete guide to everyday cycling".
This super little book gives you a heads up on some of the best climbing to be had in Great Britain. With detailed information on each ascent and an I-Spy style table at the back to check them all off, it's a book that's got a long shelf life.
The climbs are split into sections by area – curiously, there's no East Anglia section! – and for each climb you get a short write up, a little gradient graph with points of interest marked out, a factfile giving you location and stats, and a pic of the road snaking away into the distance.
There's plenty of ways to get mapping on the go these days but still not that many that offer OS mapping. Viewranger is a standalone mobile app that's not supported by a desktop program like Anquet and Memory Map but it's very powerful, and the new generation of smartphones make that less of an issue.