By Claire Bonin
Many books came across my desk in the last few months, but I as spent more time riding than reading, and I haven’t had a chance to review them properly. I glanced at them and created a “must read” pile from my first impressions simply based on perusing a few pages. Here are some of them.
The Road Headed West
In The Road Headed West, Leon McCarron recounts his cycling adventures and encounters while riding from New York City to Seattle and then to the Mexican border. One such story occurs in Iowa where after being bored to death by the countless miles of neverending cornfields, McCarron finds himself urgently pedaling away from a drunken and armed farmer while moving rapidly towards a mile-wide tornado. The fast and funny writing style of this National Geographic filmmaker grabbed my attention within the first few pages.
The Road Headed West, by Leon McCarron, Skyhorse Publishing, 352 pages, $24.99.
Lantern Rouge, The Last Man in the Tour de France
Lantern Rouge, The Last Man in the Tour de France, is appealing to me because it focuses on the last guys to cross the finish line, riders that don’t receive the media attention bestowed upon the winners. These racers could have easily abandoned the race without anyone noticing, but refused to quit and hung in there until the bitter end. What motivates them to do so?
Lantern Rouge, The Last Man in the Tour de France, by Max Leonard, Pegasus Books, 264 pages. $17.96.
Gironimo! Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy
Tim Moore’s Gironimo! Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy is another one that captured my interest from the get-go. Disgusted by the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, Moore endeavors to retrace the route of what is known as the hardest bike race in history — the 3,000 km-long 1914 Giro d’Italia. The race was plagued, amongst other things, by the horrific weather conditions that left only 8 of the 81 starters to rally across the finish. To be true to the spirit of these pioneers, Moore ventured on a century-old bike wearing clothing of the era — welding goggles included — and using wine cork for brakes. What can go wrong with that? Written in a humoristic tone, it had me laughing right away. It made the BBC’s Book of the Week list when it came out.
Gironimo! Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy By Tim Moore, Pegasus Books, 386 pages, $27.95.
The Race Against the Stasi
The Race Against the Stasi, or when politics hinders the careers of phenomenal racers. The book recounts the stories of the Peace Race — an event dubbed as the Tour de France of the East — and how it was used as a political tool; it follows Dieter Wiedemann’s career as an East German cycling hero, and the scrutiny he was under until his defection before the 1964 Olympics. Using once top secret documents from Stasi files and interviews, author Herbie Sykes lifts the curtain on the political situations and how it effected cyclists’ careers. It should be a good read.
The Race Against the Stasi by Herbi Sykes, Aurum Press, 400 pages, $27.99.
The Urban Cycling Survival Guide
The Urban Cycling Survival Guide is a little handbook without pretention, and that is quite informative. Written by Yvonne Bambrick, the founding director of Cycle Toronto, the booklet covers all aspects of cycling, from purchasing the right bike to navigating busy streets safely, common setbacks such as being pulled over by the police, collisions and bike theft. It also addresses bike maintenance and much more. Two-tone illustrations are inserted throughout the narrative, providing visual cues about the subjects.
The Urban Cyclist Survival Guide by Yvonne Bambrick, ECW Press, Legato Publishers Group, 224 pages, $16.95.
The last one to hit my desk was The Badger. The biography is about Bernard Hinault, certainly one of the greatest cyclists of all time. The character is fascinating, and some of his actions are legendary. Should the author William Forthergham bring the same passion to Hinault as he demonstrated for Merckx (Half Man, Half Bike: The Life of Eddy Merckx) this should also be quite interesting.
The Badger: The Life of Bernard Hinault and the Legacy of French Cycling by William Fotheringham, Chicago Review Press, $18.95.
The Cyclist’s Bucket List
The Cyclist’s Bucket List is a compilation of 75 of the globe’s classic routes according to Ian Dille. If time and money were not an issue, where would you go ride your bicycle? The book showcases iconic road and mountain bike routes such as Spain’s Majorca, Italy’s Stelvio, as well France’s Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux. It touches every continent and features multiple photos that inspire dreams of open space in faraway countries. It also showcases rides that are closer to home such as Oregon’s Crater Lake and the historic Columbia River Highway, Washington’s San Juan Islands, Idaho’s Route of the Hiawatha and Rossland, BC’s Seven Summits. This is a good coffee table book for the winter months.
The Cyclist’s Bucket List by Ian Dille, Rodale, $24.99.