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10 Best Books for Bicycle Touring Enthusiasts

If you’re looking for inspiration for your next cycle touring trip, want to enjoy a great story of an athlete or learn about the inside story of a successful cycling team, there’s no better way than picking out a book and starting to read. We’ve chosen ten of our favourite books about different biking and cycling experiences that we’ve enjoyed and are you sure you will too.

Let’s get started with a tour through books that we consider the best for cyclists and riders, especially if you’re planning a new tour. Note that the list follows no particular order, as it encompasses almost everything you can do with bikes!

Our Top Ten Best Cycling Books

1.   Magic Spanner by Carlton Kirby

cycling book

In this book, Kirby comments on stories from different races he witnessed across Europe – Eurosport. He also talks about the people he met to help make the book a fun read. Beyond the amusing anecdotes on tour, you’d also read about serious themes such as rider safety issues and team strategies. In other words, while the book will make you laugh hysterically, you’d also learn some great lessons about cycling.

Since the book is an insider’s view of the over 25 years of the writer’s experience as a sports commentator, you’d find more of his opinions in some chapters. Furthermore, the 256-page book was shortlisted in the “Cycling Book of the Year” category for the 2020 Telegraph Sports Book Awards.

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Pros

  • Lighthearted and easy to read
  • Full of anecdotal untold tales

Cons

  • It’s the writer’s comments
  • Not the most original concept

2.  Merckx, Half Man, Half Bike by William Fotheringham

cycling book

If you’re an active follower of cycling sports news, you’d have heard about Eddie Merckx, nicknamed “The Cannibal.” He is arguably the world’s greatest cyclist. Therefore, this book delves into the biography of the cycling legend. The Belgium-born legend dominated the sport between 1961 and 1978 when he won a whopping 525 races.

You will read about what made him an incredible cyclist and Fotheringham’s interviews with the legend in 1997. This fact makes this book preferable among most books that comment on the life and exploits of Eddie Merckx. In the end, Fotheringham closely answered the question of how Eddie became a cycling icon; this comes as he describes the 1971 Tour de France.

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Pros

  • A concise story about the cycling legend
  • Repetitive to read

Cons

  • Only little input from Eddie Merckx himself
  • More about Merckx’s victories than personality

3.  50 Shades of the USA by Anna McNuff

cycling book

50 Shades of the USA by Anna McNuff is a great inspiration book for you if you’re an adventurous bike-loving woman. Don’t be turned off because it uses the catchphrases of other popular books, such as 50 Shades of Gray. In the book, McNuff writes about her 11,000-mile cycling adventure through every state in the United States. No small thanks to her beautiful pink bicycle nicknamed Boudica.

The London-born author recounts how she survived floods, blizzards, and electrical storms as she pedalled through dreadful locations. The most interesting part is how she takes all the harsh weather in good humour. So, 50 Shades of the USA is a hilarious and heartfelt tale of self-discovery with a shot of positivity. The book should be named 50 Shades of Fun.

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Pros

  • Funny, thought-provoking cycling book
  • Provides you with new cycling facts

Cons

  • Might appeal more to a British audience with its grammar and references
  • Over description of some events

4.  Cyclist Ride: The Greatest Cycling Routes in the World by Cyclist Magazine

cycling book

Have you ever thought of a great coffee table book that is suitable for avid cyclists seeking travel inspiration? Your best bet might be the Cyclist Ride, written by editors of Cyclist Magazine. The book covers the 50 greatest, most thrilling road cycling routes, epic rides, and first-hand ride reports from experts.

By reading the book, you also enjoy a trip from the rugged Pyrenees to the winding coast of southern Spain and other epic routes. Know that experts have tried out every route described in the book at Cyclist Magazine.

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Pros

  • Great book for daydreaming
  • Routes are well-explained
  • Entertaining texts

Cons

  • Route direction only
  • Seems to be written for the UK audience

5.  Back in the Frame by Jools Walker

cycling book

Beyond reading about race tactics, the best cycling stories can also explore topics related to riding enjoyment. This is what this book offers. Moreover, the book explores the theme of enjoying a ride from an award-winning cycling blogger. Walker took a hiatus from cycling at age 18 and only returned to it after 10 years. At this time, she was battling a mini-stroke and depression, which she refers to as “Sparks.”

Therefore, she recounts how cycling served as her biggest escape. According to her, it helped her care for her mother and to keep her negative inner voices at bay. Despite the challenges, she maintained a great deal of positivity. In the book, she offers motivational tips that most cyclists can relate to. The tips also inspire those that are just beginning their cycling adventure.

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Pros

  • A thorough, inspiring memoir
  • Full of humour and emotions

Con

  • No pictures included

6.  Domestique by Charlie Wegelius

cycling book

This book gives us a fascinating look into the life of a tour pro. Also, in the form of a memoir, Wegelius shares his mistakes and challenges in his professional bike racing career. As an established domestique, he was sought after by many teams. Moreover, he is known for riding to the point of exhaustion. He recounts how he went from a cyclist with no wins to a pro that helped his team win every amateur race.

He describes what made him so good at the job. His fans often get so cheerful that they fail to recognize the hard work and terrible experiences that underlie every victory. The book is about a man whose passion overshadows his pain to always see his team winning. You’d learn why the author prefers supporting someone else to win rather than pursuing victory himself.

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Pros

  • Interesting, easy to read
  • Insightful with a genuine perspective on riding

Con

  • A few words may be confusing

7.  Racing Through the Dark by David Millar

cycling book

Millar, in this book, describes the physical and mental ordeals he encountered in his professional cycling career. Rather than a historical account, the book is the author’s tale. He doesn’t leave any stone unturned in the account of how his addiction to performance-enhancing drugs almost ruined his promising career.

His arrest marked the beginning of the transformation process. He realised his mistakes and how he had let people down. Recounting his story, he portrayed genuine honesty throughout the book. Hence, this book is suitable for cyclists who have probably lost the fun of cycling. They will be able to find a clean slate to rewrite their cycling story.

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Pros

  • A genuine narrative
  • Maintains a logical storytelling style

Cons

  • Projects a victim mentality
  • Not for the general reading public

8.  The Cyclist’s Training Bible by Joe Friel

cycling book

Whether a new cyclist or a professional, you need to equip yourself with the necessary cycling details to help you enjoy every ride. In this book, Joe Friel – the most trusted coach in the world – provides you with cycling training that will help you to cycle better and faster. Beyond training fundamentals, it also teaches you how to plan your training session.

Many cyclists often overlook features such as mental performance and nutrition. However, this book delves into the topics in detail. There’s no doubt that the book cuts through most cycling training books by helping you to create and follow your own training plan.

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Pros

  • Training book from a cycling lord
  • Balance of experience and data in the narration
  • Suitable for a wide range of cyclists

Con

  • Unnecessary repetition of some concepts
  • All text with no pictures

9.  The Rider by Tim Krabbe

cycling book

It has become difficult to classify this book under any popular cycling categories. Notwithstanding, the modern-day classic book is suitable for passionate road racers and cyclists. Originally published in Holland in 1978, the author paints a clear and compelling picture of life inside the race. It is often laced with hopes, fears, disappointments, and joys.

As you pedal, you tend to feel a mix of power and pain. Beyond the experiences encountered during cycling races, the author provides readers with flashbacks to his childhood and a bit of cycling history.

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Pros

  • Well-written, thoughtful, and even funny
  • Explores the inner thoughts of cyclists
  • Images to describe the agonies of racing

Cons

  • Its tone is a bit pretentious
  • Requires little knowledge about cycle racing to fully appreciate it

10. Bespoke by Tom Bromley

cycling book

Cycling is one of the few sports that lend themselves to language. Bromley’s Bespoke guide is all you need if you want to learn cycling’s own language. By reading this encyclopaedia of cycling slang, you can bridge the knowledge gap between a beginner cyclist and a professional. Furthermore, you’d learn about big races and key riders, nicknames, cycling tactics, and lots more.

Beyond cycling’s main languages, the book also contains artworks by acclaimed cycling illustrator Neil Stevens and historical photography from popular UK Library collections. Bespoke will ultimately make you speak cycling.

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Pros

  • A perfect literary guide for racing fans
  • Provides cycling rules and etiquette

Con

  • The print could be too tiny to read

Buying Guide

You might have lost yourself in the enormous amount of cycling information and advice available. You tend to have queries such as: what book should I read to expand my knowledge of cycling? How do I learn about some cycling adventures? I don’t want to get overwhelmed by cycling terms. Here are some things to guide your search.

●     Interest

Getting your hands on the best cycling book is challenging, especially if you have no requirements. You need to have a particular subject or history of interest. This search also includes the kind of authors that tickle your fancy. Irrespective of your interests, we believe you’d be able to find a few books that spark your interest on our list.

●     Informative

Also, you need to be sure about your present knowledge of cycling. As a beginner, for instance, you may not find a comprehensive book for professionals as interesting. Before you get to the end, you’d have lost interest. However, the book should also be able to inform or inspire you on your riding journey. Therefore, you must have a clue about your present knowledge about cycling and the subject matter that appeals to you.

●     Author’s Credibility

Anyone can write if they’ve got the time, but as a rider, you most likely want to read from someone in the field. Go for books written by riders or commentators, people with a better understanding of what the sport entails.

Conclusion

The best cycling books are not books that talk about the technological history of the bicycle. Rather, they are books that tell stories through and with the bicycle. Whether you just want to have some fun while reading about biking adventures or you’re an active follower of Tour de France, we hope our selection of our ten favourite books has inspired you to choose one and start reading!