Reading to Ride: Cycling books that have inspired me to keep on riding.

Lockdown and the cold weather make it hard to get outside; yet get inspired with these books and maps that have inspired me to get back on the bike.


Links to my own rides that have come from reading these books.


1. ‘The Great Bicycle Adventure’ and ‘Clear Waters Rising’ by Nicholas Crane

I first encountered Nicholas Crane on a BBC television series about the joy of walking. With the presenter, he was walking part of a long distance route he had previously undertaken. From Cape Finisterre on the Atlantic coast of Spain, to Istanbul in Turkey; he walked almost always in mountain ranges that linked to make one long route. He wrote a book on this epic walk; called: ‘Clear Waters Rising’.

In the television programme he was walking a section through the Spanish Pyrenees. Which introduced our family to the valley of Benasque; where I have enjoyed many holidays and countless bike rides in the picturesque Pyrenees. Please check out my website for my own routes; yet, here is a link to a ride in this wonderous place: Autumn in the Pyrenees (Benasque Valley)

I saw this television programme when I was still a teenager; full of dreams of travelling the world and exploring new places by bike. So after reading ‘Clear Waters Rising’; I noticed the author had written other tales of adventure. One of the most interesting is detailed in the aptly named: ‘Great Bicycle Adventure’.

Along with his cousin, way back in the late eighties; Nicholas rides to the point on the earths surface that is furthest from any sea or ocean. It was a amazing read for a younger me and the philosophy of riding anywhere has stuck with me.

Here is a link to Amazon; where you can buy the aforementioned books.

Please be aware; I will make a small commission from any qualifying purchases.


2. ‘Cycling home from Siberia’ by Rob Lilwall

On a old fashioned mountain bike called ‘Alanis’; this dude cycled over 35,000 miles from Siberia to London. Riding through a bitter Russian winter that the locals thought was suicide. The sweltering heat of the far East and Australia and cold of Tibet. The peaceful Afghanistan and Iran of 2004 and back across Europe. With the patience of a saint and the humility of a pauper; he describes a journey that few of us could even comprehend. A must for any cycling enthusiasts’ reading list; read and enjoy the world by bike.

Here is a link to Amazon; where you can buy the aforementioned books.

Please be aware; I will make a small commission from any qualifying purchases.


3. ‘Moods of future joys’ and ‘Thunder and Sunshine’ by Alastair Humphreys

Rob Lilwall did not set out alone from Siberia; he began the ride by joining up with Alastair Humphreys. An amazing chap; who had already cycled through: Europe, the length of Africa and the Americas and crossed the Bering Sea to get to Magadan in eastern Russia!
Yet after braving the cold of a Russian winter; they fell out, but then parted on good terms, to go their separate ways home. Read all about Alastair Humphreys odyssey in these two books:

Here is a link to Amazon; where you can buy the aforementioned books.

Please be aware; I will make a small commission from any qualifying purchases.


4. ‘Lost Lanes’ by Jack Thurston

A bit closer to home is a series of books by Jack Thurston. Well researched, well written and with stunning photographs; Mr Thurston describes 36 routes in each regional based book of Great Britain. Having grown bored and tired of my regular rides in the local area; this book gave me inspiration to try new routes that are not too far from home. Find the one for your area and try for yourself:

Here is a link to Amazon; where you can buy the aforementioned books.

Please be aware; I will make a small commission from any qualifying purchases.


Places I have ridden; solely through reading about them first!


5. ‘It’s Not About the Bike’ by Lance Armstrong

After the truth came to light; this guy has been made a pariah for what was a sport wide problem. Yet like when you believed in Father Christmas as a child; cast your mind back to when Lance was everyone’s hero. Brutal attacks on the Tourmalet, epic TT battles with Ullrich and that off-roading on a road bike to avoid poor Beloki.
If you remember Lance Armstrong as a: serial drug abuser, perjurer and bully; you must also remember he made an incredible recovery from testicular cancer in his younger years. His confidence and positive outlook have certainly inspired me to keep cycling. In this book, he describes the early years and his battle with cancer.

Here is a link to Amazon; where you can buy the aforementioned book.
Please be aware; I will make a small commission from any qualifying purchases.


6. ‘Mountain High: Europe’s 50 Greatest Cycle Climbs’ by Daniel Friebe

This brilliant book was bought for me by my dear mother way back in 2011 for Christmas. Crammed with fifty climbs all over Europe; it is perfect inspiration for a holiday adventure. I personally flew to the Italian Dolomites; to ride the legendary Sella Ronda after reading about this far flung ride.
Before the internet age; every route description comes with a helpful diagram of gradients and directions. Along with a well researched description and stunning full page photos. Put down your Garmin, Strava or mobile phone and pick this book up for a classic route to ride.

Here is a link to Amazon; where you can buy the aforementioned book.
Please be aware; I will make a small commission from any qualifying purchases.


7. ‘The Man who cycled the World’ by Mark Beaumont

The mild mannered Mark Beaumont is now famous for his supported record breaking achievements. Yet back when he started this ride, he was unknown and sometimes alone on our big wide world. Read this classic account of a round the world ride. With honest descriptions of emotions as well as places and people; this is heart-warming easy read for a cold winter night.

Here is a link to Amazon; where you can buy the aforementioned book.
Please be aware; I will make a small commission from any qualifying purchases.


8. Ordnance Survey maps

Although not strictly a book that you can read; OS maps have brought me so much joy and inspiration over the years. Being brought up in a age before the internet, smart phones and GPS; knowing the way to go has always come from reading a map. Studying the route of the little pink dashed and dotted lines; that represent bridleways and footpaths that criss cross Great Britain is great fun. Linking up places of interest, knowing where paths go and looking for safer off-road cycling routes causes me to study our world renowned maps for sometimes hours on end! The original pink covered maps cover a wider area; with the orange covered maps giving greater detail of a smaller area. Buy your local map and find the way!

Here is a link to Amazon; where you can buy Ordnance Survey maps.
Please be aware; I will make a small commission from any qualifying purchases.


9. ‘Big Mile Cycling’ by Sean Conway

A thrilling read from the flame haired ultra distance rider, runner and swimmer: Sean Conway. Describing an attempt to ride across Europe from Portugal to Russia in record time; this ‘thriller’ is hard to put down. In addition he considers the sport of ultra distance cycling as well as remembering fallen friends.

Here is a link to Amazon; where you can buy the aforementioned book.
Please be aware; I will make a small commission from any qualifying purchases.


10. ‘Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France’ by Max Leonard

No book recommendation list could not be complete without this brilliant book about the ‘Lanterne Rouge’. The name meaning red light in French; was given to the last rider in the Tour de France, to acknowledge his position in the rear. The author recounts tales of: daring, doping, debauchery and other others; to highlight how life is not just about winning. For highlighting human failings that have helped me stay realistic and relaxed in my riding; I recommend this book above all others. ‘Allez, allez et au revoir; salut’!

Here is a link to Amazon; where you can buy the aforementioned book.
Please be aware; I will make a small commission from any qualifying purchases.



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