On the Bookshelf...

Great British Cycling Legends

Chris Sidwells

This is the story of British cycling as told through the lives of the people who built it. From the first recorded race in a Paris park in 1868 to the present day, Great British Cycling Legends profiles the true originals. Follow the most glorious exponents of road and track cycling, the mountain bikers and the cyclo-cross riders. There were the Victorians such as George-Pilkington Mills, a multi long-distance record holder, including that of Land’s End to John O’Groats on a penny farthing bicycle. Then there have been the significant firsts. Dave Marsh was the first British road-race world champion in 1922 and Maurice Burton was the first black British cycling champion in the 1970s. Eileen Sheridan was one of the first female professional cyclists and a major record-breaker into the 1950s. Great British Cycling Legends examines the personalities and their background of the key cyclists, to show what makes each of them legendary. All of them have, in their own ways, shown why cycling continues to exert such an extraordinary grip on the popular imagination.

British Cycling took a step forward after the events at the 2008 Olympics. Britain produced a record number of medals in both road and track cycling. It brought forth dominance in the Tour de France with the likes of Brad Wiggins, Chris Froome and Gerant Thomas. This book tells the story of British cyclists from the early twentieth century right up to that modern era.

The book organises the cyclist chronologically from the past to the present. Each cyclist has a small picture followed by a biography running a couple of pages. There's a lot of depth from early female cyclists, the first person who attempted the tour de France through the seventies and eighties to the present. There are hidden gems in the book from how the sport developed. It was good to see not only those giants of the past like Tommy Simpson and Malcolm Elliott, but those we forget about like Beryl Burton.

This is a rich history of British Cycling, told through the lives of the cyclists. A veritable treasure trove of cycling trivia that deserves a place on the shelf of any cycling fan.

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Review by
AJ Steel
October 2, 2023

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