Book Review – Bicycles Network Australia https://www.bicycles.net.au The Top Australian Cycling Portal Fri, 25 May 2018 06:40:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Book review: Spitting in the Soup – Inside the dirty game of doping in sports https://www.bicycles.net.au/2016/12/book-review-spitting-in-the-soup-inside-the-dirty-game-of-doping-in-sports/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2016/12/book-review-spitting-in-the-soup-inside-the-dirty-game-of-doping-in-sports/#comments Tue, 06 Dec 2016 08:53:05 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=16232 I’ve always been a big fan of popular science, popular history, popular economics and so on. Essentially, if it’s a topic area I’m not expert in, I appreciate a good story teller taking me on a guided tour through the subject matter. The biggest drawback of these popularised accounts is that they’re very easy to […]]]>

I’ve always been a big fan of popular science, popular history, popular economics and so on. Essentially, if it’s a topic area I’m not expert in, I appreciate a good story teller taking me on a guided tour through the subject matter. The biggest drawback of these popularised accounts is that they’re very easy to bias. When you tell emotive stories in an area the reader doesn’t have the knowledge capital required for critical analysis, you can info-tain them in any direction you chose. When it comes to drugs in sport, providing a balanced popularisation that is readable, interesting, and thought provoking requires not only great story telling skills, but also a deep understanding of sports, psychology, politics, and culture. Mark Johnson provides this balanced view with his book Spitting in the Soup.

The book begins just before the beginning of the modern Olympic games when the industrial revolution, increased population, and advances in transport and communication technology combined to grow sports from localised amateur events to fully professional spectacles. While sports and doping in some form have likely been around since the beginning of competition, it really didn’t reach critical mass until this time. What interested me most about this exploration of doping history were the early attitudes towards performance enhancement – it was openly encouraged. Indeed, a competitor was expected to use whatever means they could to do their best, anything less was admonished. If you did something to yourself, or another competitor, that impaired their performance however, that was the real crime. The term “doping” came from the practice of drugging horses so they didn’t perform well – there’s a reason that Dopey wasn’t represented as the best performing of the seven dwarfs.

The book shows how performance enhancement became a crime, both in the legal sense and in the public consciousness, through a convoluted series events and is a great example of zeitgeist manipulation, something like the changes in social attitudes towards women voting, mixed race marriages, and smoking. The author does an excellent job of pulling together the work of social and other researchers to explore the myth and reality of this change. The stories you’ve undoubtedly heard about all of those young cyclists somewhere in Europe mysteriously dying after taking EPO, well they’re probably fake. Not just embellishments, but genuine old wive’s tales, and those stories aren’t the only ones in that category. Mark Johnson will have you questioning your critical thinking skills in this book.

Tour de Doping

While BNA is a cycling website, this isn’t a book about cycling (although Mark Johnson has written just about cycling before in Argyle Armada: Behind the Scenes of the Pro Cycling Life). Sure, cycling has had its share of doping controversy, but there are only so many books you can read about Lance and US Postal before you’re numb. Thankfully I think Lance is only mentioned once in Spitting in the Soup; in the world of drug taking for performance enhancement, Lance is only a one character. A single Texan is nothing compared to state level Olympic doping programs where athletes were (and are?) pawns in the game of politics and anti-doping programs are used to test whether athletes will fail the tests, not whether they dope or not. I was only vaguely aware of how the cold war was played out on the sports field, this book reveals a story that Tom Clancy would have wished he could write.

Lance Armstrong Doping

The author has subtitled his book “Inside the dirty game of doping in sports” and isn’t referring to the doping being dirty, but rather the “game” of doping. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. Johnson takes great pains not to come out in favour of or against doping. He presents both sides of the doping argument without judgement. One of the pro-doping arguments put forward is the “equal playing field” argument, and I’m not talking about the “everyone’s doing it” version. Rather, elite athletes are elite due to their genetic gifts – they’re taller, or have more lung capacity, or can build muscle mass more easily, and is that really fair? Someone with a natural hemocrit of 54 would be expected to do better in road cycling than someone with a natural hematocrit of 39, if all other things were equal. What’s wrong with using drugs to put both athletes at the higher hematocrit level? For a healthy person, EPO has no likely negative side effects, so why not use it, under supervision, to level the playing field? Isn’t that what sport is meant to be about? Isn’t that fairness?

I think the only thing Spitting in the Soup lacks is a discussion on the evolving nature of doping. What is considered legal now may not be next month (as the recent tennis doping scandal highlights), and what is now illegal may soon be legal. Imagine if caffeine was illegal for sports, as it once (sort of) was? I don’t think cycling would survive that. After reading Spitting in the Soup I’m keen to learn more about the behind the scenes machinations of what is considered doping and what isn’t. How do drugs get on or off the list? Taking it further, how do they decide that a certain piece of equipment is good or bad (I’m thinking Graeme Obree and Chris Boardman’s hour records here)? Why is one technique allowed and another outlawed in some sports? I realise that Spitting in the Soup, which clocks in at 416 pages, can’t go into everything, but I’d eagerly buy a followup book to this one from this author.

Apart from that, I only had two little quibbles with this book. The first was a few very sloppy editing errors in the text which resulted in repeated passages which were often interleaved with subsequent text. This could have been due to my reading a review copy of the book, or it could have been deliberate fingerprinting designed to track down the perpetrator of any online pirating of the text, which was heavily DRM’d to start with. I suspect it will be fixed in the print version, but if the publishers did go to the effort of introducing this annoyance, I can at least acknowledge that I was annoyed.

My second quibble surrounds the repeated and unnecessary use of the phrase “spitting in the soup” throughout the book. Yes, it’s the book’s title and yes, it’s eye catching, but there’s no need to use the phrase repeatedly unless it’s relevant; most of the times it was used in the book felt very artificial.

If you’ve skipped to the end of the review to work out whether it’s worth buying and reading or not, the answer is “yes”. It’s readable, it’s compelling, it’s thought provoking. If this ever comes out as an audiobook, I’ll be “reading” it again. In the meantime, the references sited in Spitting in the Soup has given me a reading list on the topic to pursue. The issue of drugs in sport is a lot deeper than I thought and there are ideas I want to explore further. I think you’ll find the same thing.

You can read other reviews of this book, or have a read of a sample chapter, by visiting the publisher’s website: Velopress.

 

photos
Tour de Doping by Wladyslaw
Lance Armstrong by Richard Masoner

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Shoulder to Shoulder, a Rare Glimpse into Cycling History https://www.bicycles.net.au/2016/01/shoulder-to-shoulder-anquetil-presents-a-rare-glimpse-of-cycling-history/ Thu, 28 Jan 2016 21:46:51 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=14770 Shoulder to Shoulder is a coffee table book around which groups (or bunches) of cycling enthusiasts will gather to drool over black and white photos from the glory days of competitive racing. They were the days of hand-sown cycling jerseys worn by cyclists from western European countries. The photos are noted as being restored rare […]]]>

Shoulder to Shoulder is a coffee table book around which groups (or bunches) of cycling enthusiasts will gather to drool over black and white photos from the glory days of competitive racing. They were the days of hand-sown cycling jerseys worn by cyclists from western European countries. The photos are noted as being restored rare and valuable photographs from The Horton Collection, most have been unseen since their original publication. What is the Horton Collection? It is a collection by Shelly and Brett Horton (California) of cycling memorabilia with 15,000 objects and 170,000 vintage photographs.

Subtitled, “Bicycle Racing in the Age of Anquetil”, this book is a collection of 100 photographs and concentrates on the era of French Cyclist, Jacques Anquetil who is described as the most public and accomplished cyclist in the swinging 60’s. Cycling needs a showman and after Fausto Coppi, it was Anquetil, the “cerebral, calculating and distant Frenchman” who took this role before the era of Eddy Merckx.

Shoulder to Shoulder The Horton Collection

Anquetil is a reference figure in this collection which includes many cycling personalities who are pictured both in and outside of competition. We see Englishman Tom Simpson playing accordion, Spaniard Federico Bahamontes sprawled on the ground after a crash and Belgian Rik van Looy in the 1963 Berlin 6-Day race along with dozens of other European cyclists.

In comparison to the colourful snapshots of todays cycling photography, these black and white photos often tell a bigger story. Riders have stopped to fill up their bidons with the clear water from a water fountain, a mechanic is reaching out from the team car with an oil bottle to lubricate the derailleur and a lady is hanging out freshly washed cycling kit for an entire team.

Shoulder to Shoulder The Horton Collection

Shoulder to Shoulder The Horton Collection

There are brief details about each photo and at the rear of the book there are further details are shared, for example outlining the circumstances and other interesting information which provides context. It is unfortunate that these details have been split, and moved to the rear of the book as they belong with the respective photo. I assume a lot of readers won’t have experienced this cycling epoch first-hand, so the details and intrigues are new and would be well placed alongside each photo.

Shoulder to Shoulder is a hardcover book which you can browse and easily become engrossed within. Expect to see it available soon from your book stores. Shoulder to Shoulder is published by Velopress (ISBN 9781937715366).

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Book Review – Fast After 50 by Joe Friel https://www.bicycles.net.au/2015/05/book-review-fit-and-fast-after-50-by-joe-friel/ Tue, 12 May 2015 00:05:02 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=13598 Yes, I am over 50, but I only got serious about cycling about 4 years ago. I did have an active background in rugby league, rugby union, tennis, and sailing, but I did not reach the dizzy heights of a spectacular sporting success – I just kept plodding. According to endurance sports coach Joe Friel and the extensive […]]]>

Yes, I am over 50, but I only got serious about cycling about 4 years ago. I did have an active background in rugby league, rugby union, tennis, and sailing, but I did not reach the dizzy heights of a spectacular sporting success – I just kept plodding. According to endurance sports coach Joe Friel and the extensive evidence he presents in his new book Fit After 50, now that I’m “After 50” I will have reduced aerobic capacity, increased levels of body fat, and reduced muscle mass. Please Joe, is there good news? Yes, there is!

Right from the outset I must declare that I’m a born sceptic. Whenever I see the words “proof” or “proven” I usually utter the words “Okay prove it – but you better have pretty good evidence.” I was quietly surprised that most claims from this book appear to be backed up by substantial evidence. There is an impressive twenty pages of references in this 328 page book; Friel lays his cards on the table for all of the book’s content.

Friel begins by establishing the health benefits of maintaining physical activity as we move past the age of 50. He also highlights the nurture side of the equation; Friel recognises that any efforts “start in the head”. Many people I’ve spoken to who started late in cycling say the same thing – it’s mainly the organ between the ears that’s the biggest barrier. Yes, our bodies have accumulated physical “souvenirs” of our (mis)adventures, and the memories of our exertions will inform our future attempts, but Joe does give you hope and is able to prove why a well thought out training program can keep you “Fast After 50” and can slow the ageing process.

Seasonal Cycle Training

While training over the past few year, I was always worried that I had a short attention span since I was bored on long-long training rides. Friel’s book uses quite a bit of anecdotal wisdom from past and current older athletes and I was presented with a World champion cyclist who used shorter rides than his competitors to achieve his triumphs. I had heard of high intensity training/lower volume training, but hadn’t had a lot of experience in it. HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is mentioned regularly in a lot of exercise physiology literature and Friel leads the reader through the process of incorporating the principles of HIIT into their training with good use of insets and tables.

Friel always writes in terms of athletes, not cyclists, and the principles espoused are easily adapted to all athletic disciplines. As I am not a runner/jogger/walker, and injury precludes me from taking part, I am unable to comment on the benefit of the book in these areas. Regardless, Joe captures a wholistic picture of the aging athlete and his explanations are well articulated and not overly complicated. The coverage of the ageing process is disturbing, but the direction he gives you is affirming.

Cycling Racing Training Calender

“Okay Joe,” I thought to myself, “I’m convinced. I’ll give some of your workouts a try”. The High-Dose Aerobic Capacity 5 x 2.5min and 5 x 3min workout sounded achievable; I’ve been riding for a while, building well, and wanted to see how it went. I used Trainer Road to create the workouts and set to on my trainer. The first 3 intervals were hard but manageable. I kept looking at the next 8 intervals yet to come and grimaced. I wasn’t feeling too crash hot after 5 intervals, so I stopped. I didn’t think it would be that bad! I checked the book and had a bit of a read – oops, the two sets of intervals were actually two workouts. Message to self – don’t skim read!

V02 Max Cycling

As I worked through the book, I kept getting the feeling that this book may be better suited to the life-long athlete who has built a life time of habit. Friel points out the importance of having a regular routine of exercise earlier in life and how this is important as it is likely to sustain the memory of hard work in achieving success. He continually addresses the reader as an athlete – I don’t consider myself to be an athlete. There is a difference between being active and a life-long athlete. Do not let this hold you back from learning from Joe’s decades of experience and continuing research, however.

I have considered, many times, quitting the routine of getting up at 4.30am five times a week and riding, and just letting myself go; let’s face it, it’s easier to do that. Too old, too cold, not enough sleep, too fat, too slow – yep, that’s me. I have kept going by picking up new motivations along the way. Recently I was considering leaving the sport.

Things like Joe Friel’s book have made think deeper about the way I approach my riding. Good riders talk about kilometers ridden per week; long kms are good training, as long as that’s what you’re training for. Quality kms are extremely important, and I like the HIIT approach in this book, so I’m motivated to try to do both at the moment as I have mixed targets. Maybe I can still be Fast After 50. Let’s face it I was never really fast before 50. Wish me luck.

 

Details
Title: Fast After 50: How to Race Strong for the Rest of Your Life
Author: Joe Friel
Format: Paperback with illustrations, 7″ x 9″, 336 pp.,
Retail Price: $21.95 (USD)
E-Book available from Velopress
ISBN: 9781937715267

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Book Review: Bicycle Design – An Illustrated History https://www.bicycles.net.au/2014/06/book-review-bicycle-design-illustrated-history/ Sun, 29 Jun 2014 11:55:01 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=11743 If you are expecting one of those beautiful and glossy coffee table books with photos of amazing bikes mixed with the weird and wonderful, then Bicycle Design by Tony Hadland and Hans-Erhard Lessing doesn’t fit the bill. It is captioned “An Illustrated History” and cleverly uses original diagrams, sketches, and photography to accompany this encyclopedia […]]]>

If you are expecting one of those beautiful and glossy coffee table books with photos of amazing bikes mixed with the weird and wonderful, then Bicycle Design by Tony Hadland and Hans-Erhard Lessing doesn’t fit the bill. It is captioned “An Illustrated History” and cleverly uses original diagrams, sketches, and photography to accompany this encyclopedia of bicycle design. This text heavy book is a comprehensive overview of the foundations of the bicycle, how and why the bicycle was invented, and takes the reader on a detailed journey from around 1817 when the first velocipedes  (or Draisines) were invented, through the development of all of the major parts and components of the bike, and finishes with the modern bicycle.

This is pure ‘bike nerd’ material as we learn about patent wars, knock-offs, and the key personalities behind each significant improvement (and failed crazy idea) in the history of the bicycle. The attention to detail by the authors means that this is a reference manual, an encyclopedia and, you could argue, should be compulsory reading for mechanics and bicycle designers and builders. And of course the connoisseurs, who love to know everything about bikes and likely keep a collection of classic bikes and parts, will be more than satisfied.

Bicycle Design Hadland Lessing Review

With over 500 pages this is not an easy Sunday afternoon read, however it will bring the same joy in knowledge. For example, looking at the drive chain of a bike, although the bike chain is standard, every so often shaft drive systems come onto the market which are promoted as the latest and greatest; however shaft drive systems first appeared in the 1890’s in the United Kingdom where the Partington Cycle Company and the Start Cycle Company both produced such bikes. Shaft drive bikes shortly thereafter appeared in the United States and France.

History Bicycle Brakes

For any innovative bike designer or brand, you can probably question each of their new ideas, “Is this really new?” The chances are that many of the ideas for improving the bike have already been tried… and failed. I particularly like the beautiful Campagnolo Delta brakes which are described in the section, suitably titled, “Brakes”. The Campag Delta’s are truly a work of art and an original mint condition set would now be worth a small fortune. These “parallelogram” brakes however had a significant flaw, they didn’t work very well and this system didn’t survive.

Bicycle Handlebar Design

There is depth to the information, but also scope as different styles of bikes are explored, such as racing bikes, mountain bikes, and even recumbents. The information on each of the cycling disciplines is concentrated on major design developments. There is far greater historical focus, rather than comprehensive details, on the modern bike which means than while we learn the history of carbon fibre, it isn’t a suitable reference book for modern carbon fibre design. Likewise, we learn about the history of bicycle suspension while modern mountain biking developments in suspension is treated only broadly, so other literature would be better suited if you wanted to learn more about current bikes, design, and setup.

The early bicycle design is particularly fascinating, for example, do you know about the connection between ice skating and early bicycles? This book also clearly describes the development of each part of the bicycle so you know exactly how the modern day bicycle came to be.

Bicycle Design by Tony Hadland and Hans-Erhard Lessing was published by The MIT Press and is available in Australia for $64 from Footprint Books:

Bicycle Design : An Illustrated History (ISBN 9780262026758)

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Bicycling Through Time – The Farren Collection [Book Review] https://www.bicycles.net.au/2013/11/bicycling-through-time-farren-collection-book-review/ Wed, 20 Nov 2013 01:24:31 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=9520 Buy this book. It doesn’t matter who you are, what sort of cycling you like to do, or even if you’re not into cycling. You are going to have to work hard to not find something in this book that you like. Bicycling Through Time is a wonderful look at bikes, and I use wonderful […]]]>

Buy this book. It doesn’t matter who you are, what sort of cycling you like to do, or even if you’re not into cycling. You are going to have to work hard to not find something in this book that you like. Bicycling Through Time is a wonderful look at bikes, and I use wonderful in its literal sense – you will be full of wonder as you leaf through the pages, ogle at the images, and engage with the text. Bicycling Through time is a book that transcends its genre.

To say that Paul Farren loves bikes is to understate a passion which words cannot do justice. His collection of bikes, lovingly restored and preserved, sits in its own warehouse (the ultimate man-cave?) and still there is not enough room for it all. Fortunately, Paul has opened up his private collection to the public in the form of this book, and what a lovely thing it is.

The publishers sent me a pre-publication low-res electronic copy of the book some time ago and, flicking through it, I thought it was an interesting treatment of the history of the bike told through an extensive collection, but it didn’t grab me. When the actual physical book arrived, I was well and truly grabbed. It’s a large-ish format “coffee-table” book, and it needs to be. The photography is spectacular, and anything less than the format it is in would not do these images any sort of justice.

Bicycling Through Time Farren Vintage Bicycle Collection

Each bike is given between 2 and 4 pages in the book, depending on its features. Each bike is photographed as a whole, usually from side on, and then important features are examined with either another whole bike shot from another angle, or, more commonly, with a closeup of an interesting feature. The bike images are complemented by historical images of the bike, as well as period advertisements and catalogue extracts.

The Farren Collection obviously isn’t a random group of old bikes, each bike in this book is there for a reason. Whether it’s an interesting pedal design, a wooden frame, or sprung rims, this collection showcases innovation as much as it does bikes for the sake of bikes. Some of these design features didn’t last more than year before dying off, while some of them became standard features of even modern bikes. Something that I saw many times through these pages were ideas that we think of as new, but which had been thought of, implemented, and passed over a hundred years ago. Sometimes good ideas need to find the right time to truly flourish.

Vintage Classic Retro Bicycles

Vintage Bicycle Collection Australia

Given that Bicycling Through Time is a coffee-table book, it’s not meant to be “read”, as such, and the text provided with the images is sensitive to this. The photos are explained with short personal captions which make it seem like Paul is standing next to you telling you about the bike, for example: “I got this machine when the Canberra Bicycle Museum closed in 2008 – it is one of my wife Charlie’s favourite bikes”. The main text on the page, however, is to-the-point narration which gives you a brief biography of the bike in its historical context. (If you read it with Sir David Attenborough’s voice in your head it makes it lots of fun. I tried it with Phil Ligget’s voice, but the text lacks the Liggetisms to make that work properly). The text is short and independent of other entries, which means you can flick through the book, find something that captures your eye, have a read, and keep flicking through. Actually, that’s probably the best way to read the book – at over 250 pages it will keep you entertained for a long time.

Most of these bikes were sourced from Australia, but the collection presents bikes made all over the world. It’s not a complete history of cycling, nor of bicycles, rather it’s a tour through a very focused “museum”. The photography is spectacular, the text is complementary, and the experience is worth the money. This is a book for everyone: designers, engineers, artists, historians, lovers of beautiful things, and cyclists of all types. As a present to yourself, or for the cyclist in your life, you won’t be disappointed with this book.

While there is a Google Play e-book version at half the price, it will only give you half the joy, so I recommend the hardcover book instead which is published by Images Publishing Group and retails in store for $59.99 RRP.

ISBN 13: 9781864705195
ISBN 10: 1864705191

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Book Review: Essential Bicycle Maintenance & Repair https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/11/book-review-essential-bicycle-maintenance-repair/ Wed, 14 Nov 2012 23:25:09 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=7120 Have you ever tried to fix a problem on your bike and actually made it worse? Speaking for myself, I am a bit nervous when it comes to gears; I’m not yet completely confident that I can set up the front and rear derailleurs with the limit screws, tension screws and cable tension for absolutely […]]]>

Have you ever tried to fix a problem on your bike and actually made it worse? Speaking for myself, I am a bit nervous when it comes to gears; I’m not yet completely confident that I can set up the front and rear derailleurs with the limit screws, tension screws and cable tension for absolutely perfectly tuned gearing. I need practice, and to get it right, professional guidance makes sense.

Essential Bicycle Maintenance & Repair targets road bikes and, in essence, is a good reference for standard servicing and repairs. The author, Daimeon Shanks, has worked as a mechanic for Jonathan Vaughter’s Garmin-Transitions pro cycling team and has followed a logical and methodical approach in creating this book.

Beginning with a checklist of tools and bike cleaning, each part of the bicycle is addressed individually: Frame & Fork, Handlebars & Stem, Saddles & Seatpost Wheels, Tires, Brakes, Cranks & Chainrings, Shifters & Derailleurs, Chains & Cogsets and, Pedals & Cleats.

Within each section there is a broad introduction, and introductions to each sub topic, followed by step-by-step instructions accompanied by black and white photos. For the gears you will learn how to install shifters, cabling, then install and adjust rear and front derailleurs. There is a page and a half on trouble-shooting and then detailed instructions for installing and adjusting Time Trial shifters and Shimano Di2.

Bicycle Repair Instructions

As this is a general maintenance book, it would be impossible to cover every single variation and problem-shoot every single problem. The instructions are general and, depending on your equipment, there will certainly be variations. This book, however, provides a good introduction; for people who haven’t any experience servicing a bike, the concepts and mechanics are explained and it provides the broadest possible coverage. In the case of bottom brackets, for example, we learn of the English and Italian BB standards, and there are specific instructions for BB30 and BB90 bottom brackets as well as Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo specific cranks.

The author assumes some knowledge, or lets say willingness to learn. In some of the steps it is important to understand the terminology and concepts in order to continue. For example, the function of a cone in a wheel hub is explained, however, if you jump ahead into a set of instructions, you may need to return to the start of the chapter to pick up the basics if you don’t already know them.

As an avid cyclist I actually found that I was able to sit down and enjoy reading through a few chapters the first time, rather than relegate this book to just as a reference for specific maintenance or repair tasks. Daimeon Shanks has taken the time to provide background information which simply makes for a better understanding, explaining the difference between brands or systems and also throwing in a few anecdotes.

Bicycle Repair Tools

There is a slight American flavour to the book when it comes to suggestions or recommendations for oils, cleaners and degreasers, for example; some of the suggested products are not freely available in Australia. I feel that the author has overlooked including a bike work-stand as recommend equipment for repairing and servicing a bike; this is a missing-link in many of the repairs and servicing duties.

As a bonus, there is a short section towards the end covering bike fitting. While this would never be a replacement for a professional fit, it does provide an introduction into the topic, even comparing some popular bike fitting theories. The lesson is that even with a high-tech bicycle in tip top form, if it doesn’t fit the rider then there is a lot of wasted potential.

Without any doubt, you will find similar bicycle maintenance and repair books with the same level of depth. This book has been well planned and is also up-to-date (published 2012). Even better is that it is a very affordable $23.95. While there is also an eBook version, that is probably less practical unless you are happy getting grease all over your laptop or iPad as you flip through while fixing your road bike.

Essential Bicycles Maintenance & Repair is available online from Human Kinetics for $23.95 or from all good book stores.

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Book Review: Racing Bicycles – 100 Years of Steel https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/11/book-review-racing-bicycles-100-years-steel/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/11/book-review-racing-bicycles-100-years-steel/#comments Wed, 07 Nov 2012 22:58:06 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=7095 There is a passionate group of cyclists who argue that “steel is real”. They have more time for timeless steel racing bicycles than for the latest carbon fibre or aluminium hydro-formed masterpiece. Behind a good steel frame is a good frame builder and good quality steel; this book is a celebration of those classic steel […]]]>

There is a passionate group of cyclists who argue that “steel is real”. They have more time for timeless steel racing bicycles than for the latest carbon fibre or aluminium hydro-formed masterpiece. Behind a good steel frame is a good frame builder and good quality steel; this book is a celebration of those classic steel racing bicycles.

The author, David Rapley, is an Australian and this book concentrates on classic bicycles in the hands of Australian collectors. The bikes featured come  from Europe and the US, as well as a healthy offering of Australian bikes as well. This hard-cover coffee-table book is less an encyclopedia and more a collection of bikes and their stories; it’s more like a museum in print.

Racing Bicycles: 100 Years of Steel begins in 1902 and continues (over 236 pages) to 1996 where it concludes with a slight deviation from steel, acknowledging the popularity of aluminium and carbon fibre and presenting a few bikes that demonstrate the racing world’s move away from steel.

Racing Bicycles Peter Panton Frejus Hillman

Racing Bicycles Claud Butler

Each bike shown has a small fact sheet that details the bike’s origins, model, condition (original or restored), frame size and a listing of all of parts. The author then demonstrates his extensive historical knowledge with a small writeup that reveals details of the brand and the bike; it’s informative enough to drag you in, but concise enough to keep your interest.

As you would expect from a coffee-table book, there are plenty of photos. We see each bike in all its glory as well as close-ups of important details, such as the ‘cut out’ bottom bracket of a Raleigh track bike (which would save a few grams), the artwork on an Australian Team Hartley track bike, and the chain ring and cranks of a Super Elliot (as shown below).

Racing Bicycles Super Elliot

The bikes included are owned by private collectors in Australia and I found that the book’s crystal clear photography offered a unique insight into each collector; the bikes are set in scene, on location at their owner’s house. Mario Romeo, for example, has all of his bikes pictured in front of a red brick wall, Alan Telfer’s bikes are all shot in front of his garage or a grey garden wall, whereas the book’s author, David Rapley, presents his bikes in front of a wooden gate.

acing Bicycles Super Elliot Backyard

Modern cycling owes a lot to its history and traditions, and I found Racing Bicycles: 100 Years of Steel to be a fascinating read, particularly because of the Australian context. For collectors and aspirational collectors it is a must-have, for cyclists who recognise beauty in craftsmanship, you will more than appreciate this book.

Racing Bicycles: 100 Years of Steel is published by The Images Publishing Group and is available across Australia in all good book stores for RRP $69.99.

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Uncovering The Secret Race (book) by Tyler Hamilton https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/10/uncovering-secret-race-book-tyler-hamilton/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/10/uncovering-secret-race-book-tyler-hamilton/#comments Wed, 10 Oct 2012 01:54:41 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=6903 This book was released a month ago and I resisted reading it, until I spotted it at a book store on holiday and gave in. To put it simply, if you have followed pro cycling during the last decade then you will find The Secret Race captivating. Ex-Pro Cyclist Tyler Hamilton sets you in the […]]]>

This book was released a month ago and I resisted reading it, until I spotted it at a book store on holiday and gave in. To put it simply, if you have followed pro cycling during the last decade then you will find The Secret Race captivating. Ex-Pro Cyclist Tyler Hamilton sets you in the middle of the peloton and reveals the shadowy side of cycling.

After Hamilton was busted for blood doping and couldn’t clear his name, he kept a low profile until he was summoned by Jeff Novitzky and, under oath, revealed all. Though this case against Lance Armstrong was dropped the US Anti Doping Agency (USADA) has come now close formally convicting one of the most prominent cyclists of our times.

The release of The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton, “co-authored” by Daniel Coyle, is well timed and critics are quick to point out that Hamilton will profit handsomely from it; after all, it is focused primarily on Hamilton, Armstrong and doping. As it turns out, Hamilton was in the right place at the right time to give us an account of what went on.

The book is an eye-opener and Hamilton owns up to his failings; he isn’t a saint and shows his path to doping and cheating the system. Systematic doping and evading the authorities was planned in careful detail. When you are already riding at your limit, getting the extra advantage can be the difference to getting dropped or attacking and dropping others. It was not a level playing field, rather competition of who was doping the best.

This is a well written book that I found hard to put down until I had finished reading it. The level of detail makes it really hard to believe that this is just another fairy tale. The personality traits and power of Armstrong are uncovered. Where the seven time Tour de France winner is a confident and charismatic personality in the media, inside the cycling world he can dominate, intimidate, manipulate and control. It’s pretty damning, and while Hamilton is portrayed as a more passive character in the relationship, even after leaving (or being ejected) from team US Postal, his journey continued with doping.

One incident sheds light on the relationship between Hamilton and Lance: in 2004 Hamilton’s team was summoned to the UCI headquarters in Switzerland. What seemed to be an unusual but unspectacular event was put into perspective when Armstrong’s team-mate, Floyd Landis, hinted shortly after that Armstrong was behind it, telling the UCI that Hamilton and the team were using new doping techniques.

Inside the Secret Race

Though it was obvious that Hamilton found it unfair, the relationship between the two continued as unfriendly rivalry. At least until Hamilton was busted for doping. He documents his demise, and details his depression and rejection. As clear and believable as many of the episodes are, others are speculative or open to speculation. Documenting instances of injecting EPO with other riders in the same room has more credibility than the stories heard “on the grapevine”. The book however pulls these into the chronological context and, in the case of the Dr Ferrari and Lance Armstrong connection for example, it becomes less and less likely that this relationship never involved doping prescriptions.

The author Daniel Coyle adds useful factual footnotes throughout the book that add context and value to the memoirs. As a reader I was always engaged; it was never too vague nor overly complex.

While it offers a level of satisfaction, confirming what went on behind closed doors, the Lance Armstrong saga remains unsettled; there may never be an actual admission of guilt, even though the evidence is stacked against him. As a powerful influencer, anything inconvenient can be wrapped up in spin, critics can be attacked and their motives questioned, their characters destroyed.

Though doping doesn’t turn lazy cyclists into winners, as Hamilton points out, doping also doesn’t create a level playing field.

Whether you are for or against Lance, or remain undecided, this is a good read and provides a new perspective, one you wont get from Phil Liggett. It is worth noting that there are differences in the US and UK versions of this book, the UK libel laws are stricter. The differences are relatively minor though if you are curious, the Velo Veritas website documents these differences.

I paid AUD 30 and in book stores it will be between $29 and $35. For an online option, Aussie book stores are pretty thin so go to Amazon The Secret Race US$17.24  (or US$12.99 for Kindle).

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The Jersey Project Book from the Tour de Cure https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/06/book-jersey-project-tour-de-cure/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/06/book-jersey-project-tour-de-cure/#comments Thu, 28 Jun 2012 00:09:24 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=5969 The Jersey Project book is fresh on Australian shores and is a book that you really can judge by its cover. If the idea of discovering lots and lots of cycling jerseys from the pages of cycling history appeals to you, you will enjoy this. This book has an interesting background, it is based upon […]]]>

The Jersey Project book is fresh on Australian shores and is a book that you really can judge by its cover. If the idea of discovering lots and lots of cycling jerseys from the pages of cycling history appeals to you, you will enjoy this. This book has an interesting background, it is based upon a Dutch publication called Koerstrui! (eng. Jersey) which features a collection of over 1200  jerseys from an avid Dutch collector, Henk Theuns.

The American author Bill Humphreys was given a copy in 2010 when he was in Europe following the Tour de France and became compelled to add an American chapter and present an English language version. Koerstrui! featured dominantly European jerseys so The Jersey Project evolved into quite an extensive visual journal. The modern era of jerseys from around the 1970s, is best represented though there are a number of gems from days of old.

The format of the book presents photos of the original jerseys that were worn by professional cyclists and it is split into sections including Track, The Classics, Grand Tours and World Championship jerseys. The US section takes a different approach to categorising jeseys to better suit the competitive road racing on that continent.

Classic Cycling Jerseys

While some pages show only jersey photos and rider names and year, a number of jerseys are singled out with background information on the rider. If you follow pro-cycling, the stories of current and recent cycling pros will be familiar. Since the original collector was Dutch, a generous selection of jerseys are from Dutch riders and there are plenty of classic jerseys and stories from European cyclists of yesteryear.

Retro Vintage Cycling Jerseys

This book is available in Australia for RRP $34.95 and $5 from each sale goes to the Tour de Cure to fund cancer research, support and prevention projects in Australia.

Your local bike store SHOULD have these books in stock, and they don’t, get them to contact the Tour de Cure: www.tourdecure.com.au  (bike shops can order via email). It’s for a good cause so each purchase helps to make a difference.

Molteni Clement Cycling Jersey

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Book Review: Italian Racing Bicycles https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/02/book-review-italian-racing-bicycles/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/02/book-review-italian-racing-bicycles/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2012 10:03:43 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=5030 On my last trip to Tuscanny, driving from Germany over the Alpes to Italy, the sun was slowly dropping from the sky, casting a golden light over the country side as we drove into Tuscanny. The shadows of the poplar trees and farmhouses were growing longer as we searched for a place to stay. As […]]]>

On my last trip to Tuscanny, driving from Germany over the Alpes to Italy, the sun was slowly dropping from the sky, casting a golden light over the country side as we drove into Tuscanny. The shadows of the poplar trees and farmhouses were growing longer as we searched for a place to stay. As it tends to happen in Italy, we received vague instructions that would lead us to a farmhouse. Sure enough, not far past Greve we spotted the driveway and were welcomed in the farmhouse as the only guests.

We were offered the olive oils and wines of the house and the accommodation was amazing. The atmosphere was warm, authentic and reeking of tradition. We used this base in Chianti to discover Italy and get to know its distinct feel – whether it is an extravagant masterpiece or a restaurant with crass white fluorescent lighting and football running on tv to accompany an fantastic meal worthy of the finest restaurant. Particularly on the weekends, the cyclists decorated the country-side, from young, edgy bunches to the lone and very senior cyclists on steel bikes of old.

This distinct feeling of Italy seems to wrap itself like an aura around an Italian bicycle. Whether it’s a steel bike from the 70s’ or a hi-tech carbon fibre masterpiece, if it’s Italian, then it inherits an allure. A century of craftmanship, sporting achievement and design excellence stands behind Italian bicycles and equiptment.

My same enthusiam for Italy is reflected by the author Guido P. Rubino in his introduction and approach in presenting each brand in Italian Racing Bicycles. The large format (275 x 245mm) book is complete with numerous photos that makes it enjoyable to browse. Anecdotes and key moments in history are presented for each brand in an easy to read style that provides an insight while avoiding tedious elaboration.

Italian Racing Bicycles - Campagnolo

While I had the book for review, it had the ability to capture the immediate interest of any other cyclist who spotted it. The name alone, Italian Racing Bicycles, invites you to peak inside and then it engages you. While not a fault, this book does limit the presentation of each brand to between two and twelve pages, so for a truely indepth insight, you will have to look elsewhere. It does however pick out important milestones in the brand development to give you a hints as to why a frame builder like Dario Pegoretti prefers stainless steel over titanium for example and how Eddy Merckx is connected to Masi.

Many of the brands covered have legendary status and if you are new to the world of cycling, a bit of time with this book will give you an appreciation of Italian bikes and equipment. And if you already appreciate the Italian style, this is a timeless book for light reading. It gets my thumbs up.

The 40 brands covered in this book are:
3TTT, Alan, Ambrosio, Atala, Bianchi, Bottecchia, Campagnolo, Casati, Cinelli, Colnago, Columbus, Daccordi, Dedacciai – Deda Elementi, De Rosa, Ganna, Gios, Gipiemme, Guerciotti, Legnano, Masi, Miche, Milani, Modolo, Moser, Olmo, Olympia, Passoni, Pegoretti, Pinarello, Rossin, Scapin, Selle Italia, Selle Royal – Fi’zi:k, Selle San Marco, Somec, Tommasini, Torpado, Universal, Viner, Wilier Triestina.

In Australia you can get Italian Racing Bicycles online from Woodslane – Travel and Outdoor Book Centre for $41.53. They usually dispatch within 24 hours and have a good selection of cycling and sporting books.

Masi Steel Above Everything

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