Book Review: The Cycling Anthology Volume 2

Friday, 12 July 2013

Cycling Anthology Volume 2

I enjoyed Issue 1 of The Cycling Anthology and now Volume 2 is out with a Tour de France theme. Whether planning or luck there’s a take on Colombian cycling history – ¡ Hola Quintana - as well as a look into German cycling – fünf stage wins and counting – via the curious career path of Linus Gerdemann.

The idea behind The Cycling Anthology is simple, a collection of essays about pro cycling. Some of the writers will be familiar if you read the various cycling magazines. But here there are no glossy photos nor adverts. It’s almost retro but portable despite over 300 pages. If it fits into your pocket, the prose stands out.

Volume 2 looks at the Tour de France but not in the usual way. I found the reading experience similar to the experience of July with a variety of chapters matching the varied profile of the route and it’s worth pacing your progress through the book. Set off too fast and you’ll ruin it by racing through, instead treat each chapter like a stage of the Tour de France.

It’s worth reading just for the line by Klaus Bellon Gaitan of the Cycling Inquisition blog about how Americans ritualize cycling like they do wine, whilst Colombians just ride. But there’s much more. Unlike a magazine, the Anthology pokes into some more dusty corners of the sport. William Fotheringham writes about Cyrille Guimard, arguably the best ever team manager and still a sharp commentator today for RMC Radio. Daniel Friebe covers the story of an absent rider, Linus Gerdemann who was racing at a high level yet finds himself unemployed today. There’s the technical side with Bernard Gallagher explaining the importance of a car for journalists who cover the race. I enjoyed James Starrt’s piece about Jean-François Pescheux, the Tour’s race director who is set to retire but certainly never retiring.

Volume 2 is at times a more personal take with writers often turning to their own experiences of the Tour for the story. It’s too strong to say it’s indulgent but the personal tone is obvious, Brendan Gallagher offers tips on what it’s like to drive around France as part of the press pack which might not be useful for most readers but it explains the work involved and a few of the pleasures too. For me the personal tone is best in the final chapter by Daniel Lloyd who recounts his experience riding the 2010 Tour in the service of Carlos Sastre with the Cervélo Test Team and the importance this has when getting his hair cut ever since.

There’s time to get this to read during the Tour de France but the material won’t date. There’s no race preview or route analysis, in fact it could a means to help with the post-Tour blues once the race has stopped. Vive le Tour, vive L’Anthologie.

How to buy
It costs £7.99 (about $13 / €10). All the profits from the writing are shared amongst the contributors. Bear this in mind as the book is available with Amazon but the online retailer takes large cut. Instead it’s available direct from the publishers or Prendas Ciclismo, a British bike shop.

A list of book reviews is available here.

Disclaimer: this book was sent for free by Prendas. Thanks!

Max July 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Was thinking about getting this. Is it still worth getting the first edition?

The Inner Ring July 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Yes, in the sense that if you’re going to enjoy the second edition the you’ll like the first.

NotAsFastNow July 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm

After reading your review of the first anthology, I bought both, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them. At least, I’ve enjoyed #1, and I’ve just started #2, the TdF one. Part of the fun is being able to open the book anywhere and read the piece you hit on – I’ve read the David Lloyd story so far, and that’s a great insight into “the Tour for most people”. The Columbians vs. Americans attitude quote is indeed priceless!!

Definitely worth buying both and future editions – they aren’t going to date.

NotAsFastNow July 12, 2013 at 6:46 pm

By the way – buy from their website with confidence, they delivered about as fast as Royal Mail could make it, I was pleasantly surprised.

Alex July 12, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Agreed: prendas do fantastic customer service. And it’s nice to support the writers/independents.

The book is great. For me the whole charm is that it meanders away from the beaten track.

Timojhen July 12, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Agreed on the excellent service from the publisher, even overseas. (I’m in the US)

Quick shipping, great service, happy to know that the maximum amount was received by the people most instrumental in getting it out.

Fred B July 13, 2013 at 1:10 am

I bought this when emailed having bought the first one. The first ‘chapter’ had me doubting the wisdom of my almost reflex purchase but the rest removed my concerns. I particularly related to the tales of Channel 4s coverage starting in the UK as that was my introduction to the Tour De France but there’s plenty of variety in there.

Marty July 17, 2013 at 3:21 am

I have to agree- both volumes are excellent- and the last line, written by Daniel Lloyd , sums up in a few words what the Tour means more than many of the current raft of books.

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