This is undoubtedly the best book on cycling that I read in 2012. It ranks alongside Mark Beaumont’s “The Man Who Cycled the World” and Rob Penn’s “It’s All About the Bike”, both of which were 2011 favourites. Bella really gets under the skin of what it is to be a cyclist and, presumably because she’s a writer first and a cyclist second, rather than the other way around, the writing style is deeply expressive and easy to read. She describes the different cycling “tribes” from racers to couriers and everything in between.
The various types of bicycle are analysed in some detail too. But most importantly, Bella captures the relationship between people and bikes, whether those people are commuters or top class athletes.
Today, some travel writers are jumping on the cycling bandwagon by penning what are essentially travel guides with the odd mention of a bicycle thrown in for good measure. The Bicycle Book is certainly not that. It’s totally focused on bikes (including their history) and the people who ride them and, through a series of fascinating interviews says much about how those who build bikes (such as legendary frame builder Dave Yates) and ride them relate to their machines.