The cycling season is over, the year is coming to a close and it's time to pile on the pounds that you'll spend the first three months of 2012 trying to ride off. It's also time to look back at the year that was. So what kind of year has it been on the Café Bookshelf then? Busy is probably the best way to describe it, with a slew of new cycling books hitting the shelves over the course of the year. More books than the Café Bookshelf has been able to keep up with.
As a rule, I hate lists and hate ranking things, especially books. But, obviously, some books are better than others. So here's my fave five of the books released in 2012:
Title: Maglia Rosa: Triumph and Tragedy at the Giro d'Italia
Author: Herbie Sykes
In a year that saw three different Giro d'Italia books published Herbie Sykes' Maglia Rosa tops my list. Sykes tells his story by telling the stories of men who've ridden the Giro and they're all well worth reading, especially his stories about Tino Coletto, Orfeo Ponzin and Italo Zilioli. Those three stories alone make Maglia Rosa well worth the cover price with Sykes telling stories which cut to the heart of the books and to the heart of the Giro d'Italia itself.
Title: Slaying The Badger: LeMond, Hinault And The Greatest Ever Tour De France
Author: Richard Moore
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press
If it hadn't been for Maglia Rosa, Richard Moore's Slaying The Badger would easily have been my fave cycling book of the year. As well as telling the tale of the 1986 Tour de France and the two men duking it out for the yellow jersey, Moore tells a story about eighties' cycling itself and the transition from one era to the another. The stars are, inevitably, Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond themselves, both with their own memories of what did and did not happen. But they're almost outshone by three of the supporting cast: Cyrille Guimard, Paul Köchli and Andy Hampsten.
Title: Mountain High: Europe's Greatest Cycle Climbs
Author: Daniel Friebe (photography by Pete Goding)
For Pete Goding's photography alone Mountain High is a must have for your coffee table. Daniel Friebe's text makes it a must have for your bookshelf. Friebe's selection of mountains may not please everyone, but the stories he tells about them will. Some of the mountains are discussed by way of their racing history, some by their place in the wider world, and some are talked about purely in relation to why you might want to climb them. As well as the text and photos, Friebe provides info graphics that detail multiple routes for most climbs, as well as gradient charts.
Title: The Happiness Of Pursuit - A Father's Courage, a Son's Love and Life's Steepest Climb
Author: Davis Phinney (with Austin Murphy)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
For fans of the 7-Eleven cycling team 2011 saw two very different books appearing. Opinions of the official biography of the team differ but I think most people will agree that Phinney's The Happiness Of Pursuit is a real treat. A beautifully told tale that'll make you smile and may make you cry, it's a story that's told with eloquence, with wit and yes, with guts and grace. In my book, a well told story is always worth reading. There's not nearly enough of them about.
Title: Racing Through The Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar
Author: David Millar (with Jeremy Whittle, foreword by David Brailsford)
Publisher: Orion Books
While Millar's Racing Through The Dark lacks perspective and at times seems a little too self-serving to be true, there's no denying it's a well told tale that'll keep you turning the pages. Is it really this generation's version of Paul Kimmage's seminal A Rough Ride? In so far as it tells the story of an idealistic young man who got sucked into cycling's social and performance enhancing drug scene, quite possibly it is. Whether it will have a similar impact remains to be seen.
The rest of this year's crop of cycling books included:
Re-releases in 2011 included: