The Cycling Anthology series goes from strength to strength, its carefully-curated tales from The Road taking you deep inside this complex and most human of sports.
Volume 5 winds its way from the trenches of Flanders, through the frozen-goods section of vegetarian ready-meal-sponsored pro teams, up an abandoned Pyrenean climb, around the Velodrome of Rain, in search of a reclusive British Almost-Star and finally into the lofty heights of managing the world's biggest bike race - with Cognac being Jacques Anquetil's favoured tipple the new director's only previous connection with the sport.
The geographical ties between competitive cycling's birthplace and the battlefields of 1914 are brought into stark contrast in 'Soldiers Of The Road'. It is somewhat unsettling to read about the objects of our modern affections, laden with their eco-friendly, healthy and socially-conducive baggage used as effective weapons of war by both sides. It's hardly surprising and yet from a comfortable 2014 viewpoint shocking to hear the sport's luminary Henri Desgrange extolling his readers to 'go and get those bastards', drawing on extreme nationalistic and racist memes. A broad church indeed.
In 'Linda McCartney On Tour' we get an insiders' insider-view of how pro teams are born, grow, struggle and - all too frequently - die. From the outside pro teams look like they must be well-organised, funded and run. They are the pinnacle of our sport, draw millions to watch and can change how a nation feels about itself - yet all too often behind the scenes the house of cards is riddled with ego, suspicion, greed and incompetence. Ultimately the collapse of the Linda McCartney team and burned fingers all round would lead to the UCI putting in place rules to protect rider's salaries - yet as recent exposés in the pro peloton have shown even that is not perfect, some riders receiving 'wages' with accommodation, flights and expenses deducted so they basically get nothing in the hand.
'The Sounds Of Cycling' takes us on an auditory expedition through the 2014 Tour, the journalist using sound as a springboard to delve into the human experience of following the three-week circus-on-wheels. So which Maillot Jaune wearer was heard to shout 'MOVE YOU FUCKING IDIOTS'? at a bunch of milling press? All is revealed.
Overall the 220 pages and ten tales form an enjoyable and easily-digested bedside companion, perfectly sized to slip into an overnight bag or into a Christmas legwarmer (with the bottom folded closed, obviously). You will emerge with a new perspective on cycle sport and ever-more appreciation for the suffering and struggles - old and new - needed to win.
Insightful and easily-digested collection of cycling stories covering a wide range of topics
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Make and model: Yellow Jersey Press The Cycling Anthology Volume Five edited by Ellis Bacon and Lionel Birnie
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
A collection of stories aimed at anyone with an interest in the history of professional cycling. Described by the publisher as follows:"Professional cycling is a rich, dynamic and often controversial sport that lends itself to great writing. Some of the most famous and illustrious races were founded by newspapermen and The Cycling Anthology continues this tradition by bringing together the best in the business. Volume Five is an eclectic mix of stories old and new: As World War One is commemorated across the globe, Brendan Gallagher looks at cycling's war heroes and the role the bicycle played in WWI. Jeremy Whittle goes in search of panache - why you don't always have to be a winner to be a winner in the public's eyes. Francois Thomazeau examines how the Tour de France became the international event it is today. The 2014 Tour de France is relived in the form of poetry, by Ellis Bacon. Lionel Birnie tells the story behind the Linda McCartney cycling team, the great British team that could have been. Joey McLoughlin was a shining star of the British cycling scene in the 1980s and '90s - Andy McGrath finds out what happened to him. Edward Pickering returns to one of cycling's great Pyrenean climbs - Superbagneres. As Matt Beaudin finds out, the Tour de France is a treat for the senses - albeit a loud one. Matt McGeehan sends a postcard from the 2014 World Track Championships in Colombia. And Daniel Friebe introduces us to Jean Francois Naquet-Radiguet: Tour de France pioneer."
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It's a book, you hold it in your hand. Technically it is perfectly functional, and did not break during review.
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The varied topics and styles of writing make for an interesting and anticipated read each evening.
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Age: 41 Height: 183cm Weight: 73KG
I usually ride: Charge Juicer My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, MTB, singlespeed and Dutch bike pootling