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That Was The Year That Was: The Cafe Bookshelf

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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:

Maglia RosaTitle: Maglia Rosa: Triumph and Tragedy at the Giro d'Italia
Author: Herbie Sykes
Publisher: Rouleur

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.

Slaying The BadgerTitle: 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.

Mountain High Title: Mountain High: Europe's Greatest Cycle Climbs
Author: Daniel Friebe (photography by Pete Goding)
Publisher: Quercus

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.

The Happiness Of Pursuit 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.

Racing Through The DarkTitle: 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:

Bicyclebook_medium How-i-won-the-yellow-jumper_medium

Title: The Bicycle Book
Author: Bella Bathurst
Publisher: HarperCollins

Title: How I Won The Yellow Jumper - Dispatches From the Tour de France
Author: Ned Boulting
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press

Team-7-eleven-drake-geoff-9781934030530_medium Cyclepedia-embacher-michael_medium

Title: Team 7-Eleven: How An Unsung Band Of American Cyclists Took On The World – And Won
Author: Geoff Drake, with Jim Ochowicz, forewords by Eric Heiden and Eddy Merckx
Publisher: VeloPress

Title: A Tour of Iconic Bicycle Designs
Author: Michael Embacher (with Michael Zappe and Martin Strubreiter; photography by Bernhard Angerer, foreword by Paul Smith, translated by Roderic O'Donovan / Brainstorm)
Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Pedalare! Pedalare! Shayelliott_medium

Title: Pedalare! Pedalare! A History of Italian Cycling
Author: John Foot
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Title: Shay Elliott: The Life And Death Of Ireland's First Yellow Jersey
Author: Graham Healy with Richard Allchin (forewords by Sean Kelly and Pat McQuaid)
Publisher: Mousehold Press

Belgian Hammer The Story of the Giro d'Italia - Volume One - Bill McGann

Title: The Belgian Hammer - Forging Young Americans Into Professional Cyclists
Author: Daniel Lee (foreword by George Hincapie)
Publisher: Breakaway Books

Title: The Story of the Giro d'Italia - A Year-by-Year History of the Tour of Italy: Volume One - 1909-1970
Author: Bill and Carol McGann
Publisher: McGann Publishing

The Little Black Bottle Skys The Limit

Title: The Little Black Bottle: Choppy Warburton, The Question Of Doping, And The Deaths Of His Bicycle Riders
Author: Gerry Moore
Publisher: Cycle Publishing

Title: Sky's The Limit: British Cycling's Quest To Conquer The Tour De France
Author: Richard Moore
Publisher: HarperCollins

Italian racing bicycles cover The doper next door by Andre tilin

Title: Italian Racing Bicycles: The People, The Products, The Passion
Author: Guido P Rubino (translated by Jay Hyams)
Publisher: VeloPress

The Doper Next Door: My Strange And Scandalous Year On Performance Enhancing Drugs
Author: Andrew Tilin
Publisher: Counterpoint Press

Re-releases in 2011 included:

Cadel Evans: Close to Flying Wemightaswellwinus_medium 7435_wide-eyed-and-legless_medium

Title: Close To Flying
Author: Ron Arnold
Publisher: Hardie Grant Books

Title: We Might As Well Win - On the Road to Success with the Mastermind Behind a Record-setting Eight Tour de France Victories
Author: Johan Bruyneel (with Bill Strickland, intro by Lance Armstrong)
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing

Title: Wide-Eyed and Legless: Inside the Tour de France
Jeff Connor
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing

Cyclopedia Sex, Lies & Handlebar Tape It's all about the bike by Robert Penn

Title: Cyclopedia: It's All About The Bike
Author: William Fotheringham
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press / Chicago Review Press

Title: Sex, Lies And Handlebar Tape - The Remarkable Life Of Jacques Anquetil, The First Five-Times Winner Of The Tour De France
Author: Paul Howard
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing

Title: It's All About The Bike: The Pursuit Of Happiness On Two Wheels
Author: Rob Penn
Publisher: Penguin Books

Arfm_medium Tour de Lance Cyclingheroes_medium

Title: A Race For Madmen
Author: Chris Sidwells
Publisher: HarperCollins

Title: Tour de Lance: The Extraordinary Story of Lance Armstrong's Fight to Reclaim the Tour de France
Author: Bill Strickland
Publisher: Mainstream

Title: Cycling Heroes: The Golden Years
Author: Les Woodland
Publisher: McGann Publishing