The Cycling Podcast book has allowed the creators of the eponymous audio experience to carry the brand's character over into the written word, taking the opportunity to both support their existing audience and appeal to a new one. The result is a book by The Cycling Podcast, but not just about The Cycling Podcast.
The Cycling Podcast will be known to many as 'a 30-minute show providing insight, analysis and commentary on that day's action – straight from the roadside', with a particular focus on the three Grand Tours. It has been 'entertaining and informing fans since 2013'.
Now the team behind the podcasts have produced a book of the same name. A few of our lucky readers won a copy of the book in a competition, but for everyone else, what should you expect?
You would be forgiven for thinking that the book might be transcripts of previously broadcast programmes, especially when the first chapter appears to be exactly that. It is not, and you are not actually getting a written version of any existing podcast – although to create that material the three editors did indeed meet up for a recording, much in the way that they would for a normal podcast. The intention was to review the 2017 year of cycle racing, and to set the scene for the book; any existing podcast listeners will find it all reassuringly familiar.
You might notice that Birnie appears as co-editor both here and of the highly acclaimed Cycling Anthology series, and that half of the writers have previously contributed to an Anthology – and therefore be expecting more of the same. While true that both are a wide-ranging collection of standalone chapters from a variety of different authors, this is not The Cycling Anthology volume 7, however desirable that might be – but fans of the Anthology should be comforted to know that they will find much of the podcast book to be equally enjoyable.
I feel that the book is a very good complement to the audio output, with each medium taking advantage of its different strengths. The bulk of the book comprises the diaries of various journalists attending last year's Giro, Tour, and Vuelta, but with very little reporting on the race itself: there is little point in adding to the extensive coverage available elsewhere. Instead, we get a highly entertaining look behind the scenes of race reporting, and learn what life is really like for a journalist at such an event: the daily challenges of food, drink, accommodation, travel, interviews, press conferences and more all make for a plentiful supply of entertaining anecdotes – which are topped up with historical references, moments of comedy... and more discussion about food.
It may be unfair to highlight any one contributor, but I found one of the most inspiring chapters to be from current rider Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, giving an informed view of women's racing. She contrasts the Giro Rosa with the Women's Tour in the UK: in one 'the prestige of pink was tarnished by awful food, crappy hotels, lacklustre routes, poor prize money, and practically no marketing of the event', whereas the other 'is the one race on the women's calendar that deserved the appellation the women's Tour de France'.
I feel that the chapter deserves to be highlighted as much for the relevance of the message as the quality of the writing: it is an important and topical discussion point, and I hope that its appearance in print will help her thoughts reach the widest possible audience, continuing the pressure for meaningful change.
One obvious difference over audio that the book can exploit is the ability to include pictures, which has been used to good effect here: there is an eclectic mix from across the season by photographer Simon Gill, and they are largely devoid of the usual fare of bunch sprints or crashes.
When you see such interesting images then you might like to know the story behind them: at first I thought that a lack of captions was going to be a serious fail, but in fact there are informative explanations from Gill at the back of the book, as well as the basic camera settings.
All of the podcast team continue to publish articles in print, and agree that they 'seemed to form a different relationship with those who listen to the podcast than with those who read our stuff'.
I am sure that there are many who expected podcasting to be another step in the demotion of printed publications, but perhaps this book reminds us that each can benefit the other by offering a different experience. The publisher seems to think so, as it's calling this volume 1, giving some hope that this can become a regular publication – something many of us would welcome.
An entertaining book that will have appeal beyond the existing listeners of The Cycling Podcast
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road.cc test report
Make and model: The Cycling Podcast - A Journey Through The Cycling Year
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for
From Yellow Jersey Press:
Readers as well as listeners can now embark on a journey through the cycling year with The Cycling Podcast, which has been entertaining and informing fans since 2013.
Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe share their diaries from three incident-filled Grand Tours, the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España. These take readers behind the scenes and explore the culture and landscape as well as the racing, while the 'Lionel of Flanders', complete with beer recommendations, does the same for the Classics in Belgium.
There are appearances, too, by leading journalists and podcast favourites François Thomazeau, who takes responsiblity for the French Tour de France jinx, Ciro Scognamiglio, with a heartfelt love letter to cult favourite Filippo Pozzato, Fran Reyes, who pens a farewell to El Pistolero, Alberto Contador, and Orla Chennaoui, who hits the road to cover La Course in a one-woman karaoke-booth-on-wheels.
Further contributions from professional riders Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and Joe Dombrowski and the voice of the Tour de France, Sebastien Piquet, as well as stunning galleries from the podcast world's first and only dedicated photographer, Simon Gill, make this the perfect celebration of a year in cycling.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Title: The Cycling Podcast
Author: Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie, Daniel Friebe
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press
Format: Trade Paperback
'Trade paperbacks' are more substantial than normal paperbacks, if perhaps not as desirable as hardbacks.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Entertaining and varied content.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
You might need to be an existing podcast listener to fully appreciate the book.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a good spin-off from The Cycling Podcasts, taking advantage of the print medium to bring the 'brand' to a wider audience.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding