If there are two activities that I love it is riding bikes and reading. Not at the same time mind you, but separately they are wonderful activities. The only time when I can enjoy both at the same time are when I read a book about bicycling. Below you’ll get a brief overview of 24 cycling books that any reader would enjoy. They’re each unique focusing on different aspects of cycling, and can be enjoyed by bike enthusiasts and readers alike.
Former professional cyclist Phil Gaimon gives an insider’s look into the life of professional cycling. Gaimon shares his outlook on doping within cycling, explores some of the absurdities in the cycling world, and more. While anyone could pick up this book and enjoy it, those who are dedicated cycling fans will get the most out of it as Gaimon comments about issues with companies that fans have learned to love or hate.
“So while Jordan told me to “just do it,” my parents reminded me of a guy who once laced my Nikes at Stride Rite and talked about his years playing pro basketball in Europe — a cautionary tale to show me and my sister the value of practical goals.”
Bike Snob NYC is a cycling blog that has been “systematically and mercilessly disassembling, flushing, greasing, and re-packing the cycling culture” for over 10 years. Bike Snob, the book, continues in the theme of written commentary on the universe of bicycles. The book is enthusiastically pro-cycling while at the same time makes light of those who take cycling way too seriously. A funny and great read for new, old, or soon-to-become cyclists.
“Really, in a lot of ways being a cyclist is like being a vampire. First of all, both cyclists and vampires are cultural outcasts with cult followings who clumsily walk the line between cool and dorky. Secondly, both cyclists and vampires resemble normal humans, but they also lead secret double lives, have supernatural powers, and aren’t governed by the same rules as the rest of humanity—though cycling doesn’t come with the drawbacks of vampirism. Cyclists can ride day or night, we can consume all the garlic we want, and very few of us are afflicted with bloodlust or driven by a relentless urge to kill.”
Peterson sets out to debunk the influence that professional bike racing has had on the bikes we ride, equipment, and attitudes. As a bike enthusiast and local bike shop owner he wants us all to learn how to enjoy cycling as much as we possibly can. This is the perfect book for bike commuters, because it will help shape your attitude to a proper view of cycling. Worried that if you start riding your bike to work you’ll start wearing lycra and Spandex? This is the book for you!
“Don’t evaluate a short ride in physiological terms. Easy pedaling is good thinking time. I get all kinds of ideas for bikes, products, and general life solutions during short rides. The super grand solutions often come after twenty minutes, but you’ll get some good ones within five; and if you don’t, it’s still better than five minutes of sitting down and eating five minutes”
Penn loves riding bikes, and has had the opportunity to have ridden throughout the United States, South-East Asia, India, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Australia. This is the story of Penn’s quest for a new bike. Piece by piece he sets out to build the dream bike. It’s funny, interesting, and a great read for all bike-lovers.
“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world . . . It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance . . . the moment she takes her seat, she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood.”
This is a book I can get behind! Jeff Mapes writes exactly how cycling is changing American cities. In a country that is dominated by automobiles bike commuters are carving their own path. Mapes explores how bicycles are changing cities when traffic only increases, oil is expensive, and discussion of climate change are prevalent. Looking at the facts Mapes paints a convincing reason why people should ride their bikes, and why cities should take steps forward in being more bike-friendly.
“I doubt many people ride to save the environment or for other abstract reasons, although it may add an extra motivation. It’s hard to imagine people riding if they don’t simply love it. Those of who do love it think about enjoying the outdoors, moving at a speed that fends off boredom but gives you time to scrutinize interesting sights, and that sets your body working just hard enough to release those pleasure-inducing endorphins.”
I lived in Amsterdam for two months and the first thing that I noticed was the amount of cyclists. I was shocked by the sheer number of people riding bikes. It didn’t matter if you were a man in suit, a lady in a summer dress, or a pack of kids. Everyone is riding their bike from one place to the next. Pete Jordan noticed the same thing, and fell in love with the city. This book is part memoir and part history of cycling in Amsterdam. If you ever get the chance, take a trip to Amsterdam to experience a city that has fully embraced bike riding.
“The Dutch life is beautifully attuned to the deliberate pace of bicycle riding. It has the same calm and slow rhythm which allows the Hollander time off for coffee in the middle of the morning, for tea in the afternoon, and tea again in the evening. . . . To a Dutchman a bicycle becomes a matter of individual expression, almost a part of the body, controlled subconsciously and leaving him free to meditation. There is no noise, no smell of gasoline, so he can notice little things like birds and flowers, which the automobilized American leaves in the roar and dust”
What do you do when you find yourself in your 40s and 50s wanting to keep the spice of life going? Well for these two friends it meant going on bike rides together. An engaging look into the struggles of cycling in mid life. They talk about family, gear, laziness, bikes, their obsession with cycling and more.
“”I tried to motor along behind him in near silence. No gear changes, no noise, no fuss. I didn’t want him to know that I was there using him and his De Rosa shirt to hide from the wind. He did know though. All cyclists have a sixth sense when it comes to the wheel sucker.”
8. How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life
While this one isn’t specifically about bicycling it connects with our message here at Bicycle2Work. You don’t have to own a car. In fact, you might actually enjoy life more without one. Hard to fathom right? Chris Balish digs into the facts about car ownership and how you could save cash and create freedom in your life by ditching the car. This book lays out the practicality of living in the modern age without a car with tips and tricks to make it work for you.
From birth, cars are as much a part of daily experience for most of us as eating and sleeping. It’s no wonder most Americans don’t question why or even whether they need a car- they just accept it as a necessary part of life.
9. My World
Peter Sagan is not only one of the world’s greatest cyclists, but a lovable character to boot. Sagan peels back the curtain to show us all what its like to be in professional cycling, and the life of a guy like him. ‘My World’ gives a insiders look into the character and quirkiness of Peter Sagan.
“With no visual evidence, I could probably spin you a yarn at this point about how i moved up alongside the bunch pulling a one-handed wheelie and launched a devastating attack that left everybody miles behind. I stopped the penultimate corner to drink a beer and let them all catch up as I felt so bad at ruining everybody’s day.”
Emily Chappell was in the world of academics until she decided to become a bike courier in London. Being a bike courier isn’t easy work, and as a woman she was carving a name for herself in a male-dominated workforce. Chappell has great prose and her book will introduce you to the world of bike couriers. Who knows maybe you’ll enjoy the book so much that you’ll leave your job to become a courier?
“Until a couple of years before I started couriering, I didn’t even know there was such an occupation, and planned to make my living using my mind rather than my legs. And when I first strapped the radio to my bag in 2008, I envisaged the job as a short adventure rather than a career – something I’d do for six months or so, and which would give me a good story to tell in years to come, when I’d rejoined the real world, and found a sensible, responsible way of earning my money. Six years on, it’s my most enduring love affair; the career that’s shaped my life, made me what I am, and entirely derailed any hope of a normal existence.”
Personally this is one of my favorite books of all time. Is it purely about bicycling? No. It’s the story of Donald Miller who has the opportunity to work with a filmmaker to create one of his first books into a movie. The process of creating a film leads Don to reflect on his own life and what makes a life full of purpose and meaning. So what does this have to do with bicycling? A good chunk of the book talks about Don’s decision to bike across America and chronicles this trip. This book will have you reflecting on your own life while also daydreaming about a cross country bike trip.
Lonely Planet is a leader in the tourism industry providing guides to places all over the world. In Epic Bike Rides of the World you can expect nothing less than amazing as it describes and showcases 200 of the best places to ride in the world. Each ride not only is described in great detail, but is listed with practical information and lots of beautiful pictures. The perfect book to pick your next destination bike ride. It would also make a great coffee book.
“Ask a dozen cycling writers for their most memorable bike rides and you get many more than a dozen answers. For some, biking was purely about escapism and involved nothing more complicated than packing some sandwiches and meandering into the distance with the wind at their backs. One or two went a little further and, GPS unit in hand, ventured in the wilds of Patagonia and the Himalaya, powered by nothing more than their legs and a desire to see what was around the next corner.”
A relatively short book of reflections and quotes from writers, riders, thinkers, and more. If you’re a fan of cycling quotes than you’ll enjoy this tiny gem. Plenty of images to coincide with the quotes.
“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man…Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.”
14. The Rider
The Rider is a classic cycling book written in 1978, and lays out a race from start to finish. Written in a stream of consciousness narrative you’ll feel like you’re in the thick of it. You’ll want to ride your bike after reading. This is a translation, and at times the phrasing can be a bit weird. Truly a classic book on bicycling.
“On a bike your consciousness is small. The harder you work, the smaller it gets. Every thought that arises is immediately and utterly true, every unexpected event is something you’d known all along but had only forgotten for a moment. A pounding riff from a song, a bit of long division that starts over and over, a magnified anger at someone, is enough to fill your thoughts.”
Tyler Hamilton was a professional cyclist who was caught doping, and had to give back the Olympic gold medal that he had won. This is the deeply personal and raw story told by Tyler. You’ll get sucked in on this one.
“I’m good at pain. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. In ever other area of life, I’m an average person.”
The autobiography of Chris Froome who has won the Tour De France four times. The Climb chronicles his time growing up in Kenya riding bicycles to the details of winning the Tour De France. Whether you are a fan of Froome or not, you will enjoy the book as it gives not only insight into Froome’s character, but also a look into the workings of Team Sky.
“When it’s time to train, I don’t like being on the bike for no reason … I want to take something away from each and every ride, so every day I ask the same questions. What do I want to get out of this ride? How am I testing myself? How am I getting stronger?”
This is the tale of the Schwinn Bicycle Company. From its creation in 1895 to its peak in the 1950s and ultimately filing for bankruptcy in 1992 it’s a whirlwind of a ride. Interesting read on a bicycle company that many of us are familiar with. One of the main bikes that I commuted on was a Schwinn.
“Most of all, it is a tale of a young CEO who alienated just about everyone he needed – from relatives, employees, and longtime dealers to lenders, lawyers, suppliers and bidders – with a mix of arrogance and ignorance that only can be described as hubris”
Slaying the Badger is a detailed and rich tale of cycling’s most extraordinary rivalry: Greg LeMond vs. Bernard Hinault at the 1986 Tour de France. Hinault is France’s old badger who has won 5 Tours while Lemond is a young American hoping to get America their first win. What makes this rivalry so good? Lemon and Hinault ride on the same team. Great book, and there’s a documentary that is equally good.
“In the midst of competition, Hinault attempted to snatch victory like a furious, clawing rodent….He acted not only for himself but for a nation horrified that its great race might be hijacked by an American outlaw.”
This one is a detailed account of the life of Eddie Merckx. He has been praised by some as being the greatest cyclist of all time. This book shares about his upbringing, his struggles, his career, and the drama. This read might be more enjoyable for those who are more familiar with older cyclists and races.
“Passion was Merckx’s word for what drove him, and it provided a perfectly adequate sound-bite answer for a magazine interview, but it didn’t completely get to the heart of the question. Passion is a catch-all term for enthusiasm, drive, motivation. Merckx described it as the most beautiful thing in the world.”
Tim Moore decides to take on the Tour De France and ride the entire route before the professionals do. If you enjoy cycling and laughing than you’ll like this book.
“Anyway, it was a date. The plan, as it stood, was to complete the Tour route before the race itself set off on 1 July. Departing on 15 May gave me six weeks in which to do so – double the time allotted to the professionals…”
Obree’s tale of being a champion rider, but also dealing with bipolar disorder. This is his personal story of dealing with manic depression while chronicling his cycling career.
“Gordon and I did a lot of cycling about as boys. It always seemed a safer way to travel than on foot, and it gave us freedom to go wherever we wanted.”
22. This Road I Ride
Juliana became the fastest woman to cycle the world. This is the insane story of her riding a bike for 152 days and going 18,060 miles. Inspiring read.
“Freedom to do what you want is a heavy burden to carry and a very lonely road to walk”
There’s plenty of free guides and YouTube videos on how to maintain and repair your bike, but sometimes you need a physical book. This book is the bible of book repair, and will provide all the information you need to start doing your own bike repairs.
“So, if you think you are not mechanically inclined, set that opinion aside, along with any other factors that may stand in the way of rolling up your sleeves to improve your bike’s performance. The bicycle is one of our greatest intentions. Another is the book. Here is a chance to use them both.”
A look at European pro road racing in the years 1998 to 2011. Wegelius tells the brutal truth about what it takes and what’s it like. If you’re thinking about becoming a professional cyclist this book may have you reconsidering.
“But the paradox of cycling is that if you are riding well then you are kept from your failings as a human being. The morality of dedication required to achieve racing success is never once questioned, except, perhaps, by the more sensitive cyclists. In most cases, it is also in the team’s interest to perpetuate the myth that a good rider is a good man, because, as long as he wins, personality is irrelevant.”