Nine cycling books to put on your 2015 wishlist

It's been a bumper crop for roadies – we take a look at the best

So that was 2015. Where did it all go? Well, our list of the best cycling books of 2015 is a good place to start. We've included autobiographies from some of the biggest names in the peloton, through tales of bonkers record attempts to an affectionate portrayal of the distinctly British hill-climb scene.

The below selections are by no means exhaustive – and please let us know of any good ones we've missed in the comments – but we think this will be a good place to start if you're still hoping (or looking) for a cheeky stocking filler.

1. My Hour – Bradley Wiggins

Bradley wiggins describes his journey into one of cycling's toughest tests:
Bradley wiggins describes his journey into one of cycling's toughest tests:

We begin our list with a new book from one of the biggest names in pro cycling. Sir Wiggins has had a busy year, what with forming his own eponymous team, contesting Paris-Roubaix and winning gold at the European track championships. But arguably his greatest feat of 2015 was setting the new benchmark for the Hour Record at London's Lee Valley VeloPark, of 54.526km.

This book is his account of the planning and preparation, training and execution of what is described as one of the toughest challenges in sport, with its own unique pain cave. Eddy Merckx called it the hardest thing he ever did, and in My Hour the British cycling champ charts his own journey through it – with some excellent photography throughout.

Buy My Hour

2. The Biography of the Modern Bike – Chris Boardman

Chris boardman mbe charts the evolution of the modern bike:
Chris boardman mbe charts the evolution of the modern bike:

From one British cycling legend to another – Chris Boardman MBE has been at the forefront of modern bicycle design for decades. His own unorthodox attempts at the Hour Record and subsequent involvement in R&D ring the Secret Squirrel Club, not to mention running a highly successful bike company, means 'The Professor' knows better than nearly anyone what makes a modern road bike.

Which is just as well, because that's the book he's written, together with co-author Chris Sidwells. And it's a benchmark tome for those wanting to know more about what goes into the modern bike, how it evolved into the shape(s) it has today, its origins and history. It covers the first experiments with gearing, through frame materials and iconic designs, to the superbikes of today. You're bound to learn something from this.

Buy The Biography of the Modern Bike

3. The Racer – David Millar

David millar makes a welcome return to the book charts:
David millar makes a welcome return to the book charts:

He may divide opinion, but David Millar is a passionate cyclist who puts plenty of thought into what he says. That rang true of his first book Racing Through The Dark, which covered the first part of his pro cycling career – doping ban and all – and it's true of his latest offering, The Racer.

Focusing on Millar's final season in 2014, this book can be roughly broken down into pre- and post-Tour de France. Reeling from the disappointment of not being picked by Garmin Sharp for the Tour, he reflects on the gruelling nature of professional cycling, how the sport looks from the outside, and what he'll do next. But more than that, it's a love letter to the simple pleasure of riding a bike, and a very well-written one at that.

Buy The Racer

4. The Year: Reawakening the Legend of Cycling's Hardest Endurance Record – Dave Barter

Will the year record soon be broken?:
Will the year record soon be broken?:

So what is cycling's toughest record? Some say it ain't the Hour, nor the Week nor Month – it's the Year. We've written at length recently about the various attempts being made on Tommy Godwin's incredible 1939 record of 75,065 miles (120,805km), and here Dave Barter traces its beginnings in the 19th century.

There are tales aplenty of the fascinating characters who've taken it on, like the American John H. George who recorded over 200 century rides, 19 double-centuries and three triple-centuries in the late 1800s. There's also the legends of the job-seeking Arthur Hambles, the one-armed vegetarian communist Walter Greaves and the keep-fit girl Billie Dovey.

Buy The Year: Reawakening the Legend of Cycling's Hardest Endurance Record

5. The World of Cycling According to G – Geraint Thomas

Cheeky Cardiff chappie, double Olympic gold medallist, Team Sky veteran – Geraint Thomas has grown vastly in stature over the past few years, but that doesn't stop him from enjoying himself. From a star turn in BBC Radio 1's 'Innuendo Bingo' earlier this year to his frequently amusing Twitter feed, Thomas has plenty of personality.

Geraint thomas on innuendo bingo

And he's channelled it all into this book, which includes tales from the peloton and key characters like Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Mark Cavendish, pivotal races and his own etiquette, all seasoned with a generous dash of not-taking-himself-too-seriously.

Buy The World of Cycling According to G

6. A Corinthian Endeavour – Paul Jones

Hill-climb races – a distinctively British pastime – mark the beginning of autumn and the end of the cycling season. But more than that, they represent an extraordinary tradition in cycling, of amateurs and pros alike willingly pushing themselves against gravity to breaking point for the sheer heck of it, against a backdrop of horrid weather and stunning scenery.

Related: Horse for the Course – Rose X-Lite Team 8800 for UK hill-climb season

Paul Jones is himself a hill-climbing enthusiast, and in this book he describes the history of the National Hill Climbing Championship from its inception in 1944 through to 2014, in which time it's been won by big names like Brian Robinson and Chris Boardman, and the addition of a Women's Championship from 1998 onwards. Recommended for anyone who wants to know more about the British club cycling scene.

Buy Corinthian Endeavour

7. The Yellow Jersey Club – Edward Pickering

The yellow jersey club delves into what it takes to win le maillot jaune:
The yellow jersey club delves into what it takes to win le maillot jaune:

Ask any non-cyclist what the biggest race in cycling is and you can bet they'll reply, 'Tour de France'. So what does it take to win the thing, to cover around 3,500km (2,200 miles) over a 23-day period through some of the hardest riding terrain on the planet, against the best in the world?

Edward Pickering set about posing that question to the 26 living members of the Yellow Jersey Club, including giants like Greg LeMond and Stephen Roche, through to less familiar names like Bernard Thévenet. The answer of course includes a mix of great mental strength, skill and physical endurance, but in this book Pickering picks apart what sets these men apart from the rest.

Buy The Yellow Jersey Club

8. Bernard Hinault and the Fall and Rise of French Cycling – William Fotherington

What made hinault so feared? william fotherington finds out:
What made hinault so feared? william fotherington finds out:

No stranger to Christmas book lists, The Guardian's William Fotherington was a founding editor of our sister magazine Procycling, and a racing cyclist for nearly 30 years. In this, his latest, he covers the career of Bernard 'Le Blaireau' Hinault.

A five-time winner of the Tour de France and the only man ever to have won each of the Grand Tours more than once, he remains the last Frenchman to win le Tour, back in 1985. With this book, Fotherington delves into this fascinating character, and explores the reasons why France has found it so hard to produce another champion.

Buy Bernard Hinault and the Fall and Rise of French Cycling

9. Alpe d'Huez: The Story of Pro Cycling's Greatest Climb – Peter Cossins

Peter cossins charts the stories of one of the tour's greatest climbs, alpe d'huez:
Peter cossins charts the stories of one of the tour's greatest climbs, alpe d'huez:

The final book on our list is from another Procycling stalwart, Peter Cossins. Last Christmas he gave us the gift of The Monuments – an exceptional history of cycling's greatest one-day races – and this year, he tackles the legendary Alpe d'Huez.

Dubbed the Tour de France's 'Hollywood Climb', it was introduced in 1952 when Italy's Fausto Coppi triumphed on the summit, and has since taken its place at the table as one of cycling's greatest inclines. There are Tour anecdotes aplenty, meticulous research as always, and tales for nearly every hairpin.

Buy Alpe d'Huez: The Story of Pro Cycling's Greatest Climb

Jamie Beach

Deputy Editor, UK
Jamie's been addicted to bikes from the moment his stabilisers came off. Earliest cycling memory is the chipboard-ramp-on-bricks, but happiest one is bombing down a Mallorcan mountain pass that seemed it might never end. Always on the hunt for the perfect rain jacket, a keen collector of hats.
  • Discipline: Road, gravel
  • Preferred Terrain: Big mountains with long climbs, equally long and fast descents, the chance to get above the treeline.
  • Current Bikes: Genesis Croix de Fer, Kona Cindercone
  • Dream Bike: BMC TeamMachine SLR01
  • Beer of Choice: Augustiner
  • Location: Bath, Somerset, UK

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