Ally Mabry

Best of Book Report

Mar 24, 2020
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Self-isolating, working from home, social distancing — we’re living in unusual times. If you’re looking for ways to while away the hours at home, a book is always a good bet. In this edition of Book Report, we’re showcasing six of the best books to come across our desk in the last few years. From the old-school-cool photos of The Rough-Stuff Fellowship Archive to personal memoirs like The Road to San Donato and Saving Lucy, these books are sure to stoke your cycling fire, even if you’re stuck inside for the time being. We’ve even thrown in a children’s book, a novel, and the comedic stylings of Tim Moore for good measure.

The Rough-Stuff Fellowship Archive: Adventures with the World’s Oldest Off-Road Cycling Club

by Mark Hudson

If your idea of classic bicycle touring includes steel bikes, wool knickers, and lots and lots of hike-a-biking, then The Rough-Stuff Fellowship Archive is for you. The Rough-Stuff Fellowship is the oldest off-road cycling club in the world, starting in 1955, and this book features a collection of photographs taken from the thousands of slides in the club’s archive. Don’t expect a whole lot of context in this book. Each photo is labeled with the date, location, the riders’ names, and sometimes a short description. Aside from the mouse sandwich (!), each photo tells a story all on its own without any need for an explanation.

The Road to San Donato: Fathers, Sons, and Cycling Across Italy

by Robert Cocuzzo

Having first planned for a cross-country ride, author Robert Cocuzzo and his cycling-crazed father Stephen change their minds after the family patriarch, Robert’s grandfather Papa, falls ill. Instead, the father-son duo decides on a ride from Florence, Italy, to the village of San Donato — a 500-mile journey by bike to the Cocuzzo family’s roots. There, the author finds friendly locals, a zillion “cousins,” and a potentially disturbing chapter of his family’s history.

Ventoux

by Bert Wagendorp

Centered on the titular mountain in France, this novel follows five friends struggling through middle age as they reconnect and remember a tragic cycling holiday decades ago. Guilt, jealousy, and shame are ever present as the characters grapple with their roles in the death of one of their own and the fracture of their once-inseparable group. Translated from Dutch.

Saving Lucy: A Girl, a Bike, a Street Dog

by Ishbel Rose Holmes

Holmes, a former professional track racer, was in the middle of cycling around the world when she came upon an abused, abandoned dog on the streets of Turkey. Begrudgingly, she took the dog, which she named Lucy, with her and committed to carting her 400 miles to safety in a dog shelter. This heartbreaking true story shifts from Holmes’s dark childhood in foster care to the realities of traveling solo as a female and the joys of bonding with woman’s best friend.

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle

by Christina Uss

After escaping the Mostly Silent Monastery with her bicycle Clunk, Bicycle (yes, that’s her name) rides across the country for San Francisco to befriend a famous racer. Along the way she meets all kinds of interesting characters — including a ghost — and learns the true meaning of friendship.

The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Riding the Iron Curtain

by Tim Moore

Tim Moore has made a career of setting out on adventures for which he’s prepared very poorly, such as revisiting the 1914 Giro d’Italia on a period bicycle and in period kit, a modus operandi that fairly guarantees hilarity. For his latest adventure, Moore chose to ride the new Iron Curtain Trail starting in Finland, north of the Arctic Circle, in winter, on a 20-inch–wheeled shopping bike made in old East Germany. And that’s only the start of his daft (but very funny) decision making.

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