I inherited a love of cycling from my Dad. I was encouraged to cycle as a child and found I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom and exercise. Living in the Fens at the time, you could go for miles without too many slopes to climb – although now I love the challenge. We also watched the Tour de France together, an annual ritual that has continued to this day, which I have in turn passed onto my son. This year was a year I never thought I would see as a cycling fan – building from Mark Cavendish winning the Green Jersey in 2011’s Tour and the Rainbow Jersey of the World Champion, to the heady heights of Bradley Wiggins winning race after race after race, winning the Tour in 2012 and the Olympics Time Trial – magnificent!
This is the context into which I was lent Robert Penn’s slim book, a no apologies celebration of the bicycle. On the surface it is the story of his quest for a bespoke bike, with parts bought from specialists around the world, but at heart it is a celebration of the history of this great invention, exploring the past of each aspect in turn and the people behind it. His passion shows through on every page and reveals many of the forgotten names behind not so much the races, but the invention and refinement of the bike, and it’s impact on social history. A fascinating read. It’s light in tone, short and easy going, but between its covers lie a substantial amount of information. If, like me, you are a fan of cycling, I’d say you couldn’t go far wrong by giving this book a spin.