It’s that time of year again, when I start thinking about present ideas for women’s cycling fans, cycling fans and cyclists who are women, and one place I like to start is on a bookshelf. I’ve been doing these posts for a couple of years, so I’m going to start by pointing you to the 2014 booklist, which including everything from autobiography to poetry, chicklit to history, science fiction to economics, and even books about men’s races! This post is going to focus on the books published in 2015, either by women, or about women and cycling, a couple of 2016 calendars you might like, and includes three books I’ll give away to three lucky readers. As always, I get absolutely nothing for promoting any of these – they’re just things I find interesting and think you might like.
Update! I don’t get any financial benefit from sharing these books, BUT I’ve just set up an Amazon Associates account, so if you buy though my links, I get a little cut of Amazon’s costs (don’t worry, this doesn’t affect the writers’ royalties, it just helps me!)
Let’s start with the giveaways! All of these three are edited by USA bike activist Elly Blue, who you should be following, as she’s super-interesting, and are published by Microcosm Publishing. They’re very different, but I really enjoyed each of them for different reasons.
Our Bodies, Our Bikes, edited by Elly Blue & April Streeter (Microcosm Publishing, ISBN 978-1-62106-895-2)
It’s a crowd-sourced collection of all kinds of information for women who ride bikes, and along with lots of advice for cycling newbies as the title suggests (they call it an homage to the classic Our Bodies, Our Selves), there are big sections about health in here, both physical and mental, covering everything from periods to pregnancy to menopause, cycling and disability, aging and cycling, and so much more. Because there are so many contributors, there’s a range of tones and voices, and it’s the perfect thing to dip in and out of, although I found every time I read one piece, I’d have read 4 more before I realised! It’s got humour, anger, practicality and a sense of the ridiculous in the pages, with happy illustrations all through it. And if you read my 2014 guide, you know I love books which talking about cycling and the female anatomy, as I well remember wondering if I’d ever be able to ride through that saddle pain!
Amazon Associates link: Our Bodies, Our Bikes (Bicycle)
Pedal Zombies: Thirteen feminist bicycle science fiction stories, edited by Elly Blue (Microcosm Publishing, ISBN 978-1-62106-562-3)
This is the third volume of feminist bike SF stories that Blue’s edited, and this time it’s all about the zombie apocalypse. I grew up reading feminist SF from the Women’s Press, so I say HELL YES! to this, and I know teenage me would have loved it as much as it makes grown-up me smile. It’s short stories (and a comic) so again, a range of voices, and if you’ve ever wondered what would have if bikes developed AI, there’s one in here for you. Badass women on bikes in dystopian futures? What’s not to love?
Cycletherapy: Grief and healing on two wheels, edited by Elly Blue and Anika Ledlow (Microcosm Publishing, ISBN 978-1-62106-490-9)
The title is pretty self-explanatory – it’s a book full of different contributors writing about how cycling has helped them dealing with different kinds of grief and trauma, and overcoming loss and fear. They’re short, personal pieces, and include interviews, fiction, a diary, and information about bike ‘zines. Again, it’s one to dip into, and find something that touches you.
All three of these can be bought directly from Microcosm, and if you browse around their catalogue, you’ll find all sorts of other books about bikes by other authors. Elly Blue has very kindly given me a copy of each of these to give away, so if you want one, leave me a message below or tweet me at @_pigeons_ with the hashtag #EllyBlueGiveaway, telling me which one you want, and I’ll pull names out of the hat on Friday 11th December & post them (that should get to Europe & USA before Xmas!).
Open heart, Open mind, by Clara Hughes (Touchstone Books, ISBN 978-1476756981)
Clara Hughes is a Canadian icon, as famous for becoming the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic cycling medal, and then, turning to speed skating, the first Canadian to win medals at both the Summer and Winter Games, as she is for her public and prolific work on mental health awareness raising.
You might remember the media burst when this was published in September, and Hughes was talking about being a told about a positive doping test (which she says was unintentional) was swept under the carpet – or maybe her tv interviews about her childhood, how her cycling coach pushed her eating disorder and her own depression, as well as her spectacular success. And those are just some of the key points in this book! She’s had an extraordinary career, on ice and bike, and off it, and now you can read all about it.
My Amazon Associates link: Open Heart, Open Mind
Ride the Revolution: The inside stories from women in cycling, edited by Suze Clemitson (Bloomsbury, ISBN 9781472912916)
“This is not an anthology of women writing about women’s cycling. Nor is it an anthology of women writing about men’s bottoms in lycra, or peloton crushes or the curse of helmet hair. This is an book that celebrates the diversity of women’s writing about the glorious, sometimes murky, often bizarre and frequently hilarious world of cycling in all its soapy operatic glory – from the professional sport to the club run, on the roadside and in the saddle, behind the scenes and on the massage table.”
This is edited by Suze Clemitson, who you might know as festinagirl on twitter, or for her column on cycling in the Guardian, and everything’s written by women, including pieces by Marianne Vos, UCI Vice-President Tracey Gaudry, and other women famous in the cycling world, like Emma O’Reilly and Betsy Andreu, as well as stuff by bloggers and columnists (and, erm, me). There’s a wide range of writing in here, and again, it’s one to dip in and out of.
My Amazon Associates link: Ride the Revolution
Cycling Climbs – Twenty Art Prints, by Nigel Peake & Claire Beaumont (Laurence King, ISBN 9781856699655)
Peake’s modern prints inspired by famous cycling climbs around the world, alongside Beaumont’s writing about each climb. The prints are minimalist, modern, definitely interpretations rather than illustrations, and if you want to see what that’s like (and read Beaumont’s words), click through the title link and browse their gallery, or read Feargal McKay’s review of the book on Podium Café. As he says, it’s going to depend on personal taste if you like this, but I do like this book – they’re the kind of prints that don’t always scream “bike”, but made me think a lot about how I’d represent climbs if it were me.
My Amazon Associates link: Cycling Climbs: Twenty Art Prints
Beaumont and Peake have also put together a cycling trumps game about male cyclists, which McKay reviewed here – but if you like top trumps, and want a women’s cycling set, my recommendation is the Pro Cycling Trumps game about the 2015 women, which has their typical minimalist-cute illustrations, and would keep me happy for hours over this miserable winter, not only playing the game, but arguing about whether their rankings are correct or not!
Cyclocross 2014/2015, by Balint Hamvas
This is Hamvas’ 5th annual book about a cyclocross season, and it’s better than ever. He’s a fantastic photographer, and this coffee table book is full of gorgeous images, with both recaps of the races and articles about issues of the season – including one about the disparity in prize money and wages between the female and male riders. I can genuinely recommend this one whole-heartedly, both for CX fans and people new to the sport, as it’ll definitely help you understand it, and the photography is beautiful – check out Hamvas’ site, cyclephotos.co.uk to see more, and of course, the book page, where you can buy it too. He’s helpfully listed the last posting dates for Xmas, if you want to give it to a friend, and my last podcast was an interview with him, where he talks about his process, the books, and tons more – listen over here!
One of the things that came up in that interview was the worldwide exclusive announcement of Hanvas’ new photographic partnership with Sean Robinson, aka Velofocus, where they’ll work together to cover more women’s road races, and the bigger races better, next year. Robinson’s site has lots of his photos from the 2015 European road season, and he’s put them together in a 2016 wall calendar that you can buy from him – check out the images, and buy it from him over here.
A different kind of women’s cycling-themed calendar, is by Little Bellas, Lea and Sabra Davison’sUSA organisation that works to get girls and young women into Mountain Bike. The calendar “mixes spectacular racing shots, fun portraits of our favorite female pros, and advise from each pro about what they would tell their 8 year old self” and includes key MTB dates on it, and all profit goes back into their work. More information, and how to buy, on their site. Thanks to Megster for showing me this!
Want more photography? Guy Andrews and Rohan Dubash’s book, Bike Mechanic – Tales from the Road and the Workshop (Bloomsbury Sport, ISBN 9781408189894), has tons of great photos by Taz Darling – read more about it in Feargal McKay’s review, on Podium Café.
My Amazon Associates link: Bike Mechanic: Tales from the Road and the Workshop (Rouleur)
Obviously, my big thanks, as always in book matters, to Feargal McKay (buy his book, The Complete Book of the Tour de France, and check out all his cycling book reviews on the Podium Café bookshelf) – he sent me a load of suggestions of this year’s booklist, and has another recommendation, of a book that’s not been published yet…
What goes around: A London cycle courier’s story, by Emily Chappell (Faber & Faber, ISBN 9781783350537)
This is due to be published in January 2016, but you can pre-order it now. As the title suggests, it’s about Chappell’s six years as a bicycle courier in London, and not only does the description make me want to grab it, but Feargal says he really enjoyed the first chapter.
My Amazon Associates link: What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story
If you have any other recommendations of women’s cycling/women and cycling books, or cycling books by women, that have been published in 2015, in any language, please do let me know, in the comments below, or on twitter. And don’t forget to enter the Elly Blue book draw – I love giving things away!