Fancy something a little different in the way of bicycle-related reading? Tired of touring-based, “how I made my way round the world on two wheels” travel books? I have just the thing: “A Year in the Saddle: How two riders took on 12 great cycle rides,” by John Deering and Phil Ashley.
The 12 rides are iconic. Nine of best the UK has to offer and one each from Belgium, France and Italy. The rides are the stuff memories, if not dreams, are made of.
This is really three books for the price of one:
- It’s a coffee table book in large format with stunning photographs. I mean stunning. Not the usual, “here is the bike in front of some just-out-of-focus view or other. The photos are down to Phil and are overall wonderful and sometimes breath-taking. The book design matches the photos for quality and reeks quality. As you turn the high quality photo paper of the pages your eyes feast on the images while your nose enjoys the smells of freshly printed, no-expense-spared gloss paper. Wonderful stuff!
- It’s a call to the pedals for all lycra clad warriors who are spending a wee bit too much time on You Tube or the couch, watching, or reading about, how others do it. It admits it is not a ‘how to do it’ manual, but the call to get out there on the bike is obvious. This is a book that celebrates cycling for the masses of cyclists for whom drugs will never be more than a reward for a great day in the saddle – and will normally be swilled from a glass. Yes, you can swill wine if you have worked hard enough for it!
- It’s a hoot. A real hoot! I didn’t sus this on a first reading of an early chapter, but as you delve into it the craick of John Deering’s reconstruction of their dialogue on the rides you realise that these two cyclists are great mates with miles of riding behind them over many years and John has a genius for capturing the joy and humour of their days together. As you turn the pages, sometimes you will smile, but you may well laugh out loud. Either way, the imperative to go get your bike out and seek out a run with mates will press you forward.
I found my copy of this wonderful book by accident while browsing remaindered titles in a bargain book shop. What a shame I thought: it deserved much more than the knock-down price it was on sale for. Now I see it has a new life on Amazon with Sean Yates, who originally contributed a forward (and a truly terrifying photo of his legs and veins!), as an author.
I guess this is some sort of re-launch strategy with a new publisher. No matter, get yourself a copy – you will not regret it for a moment. “A Year in the Saddle” is a keeper for sure!
Recommended with five stars.