I will hazard a guess that many of this site’s readers are more interested in getting to work or school by bike than in cycling as a sport, and many more of you are interested in cycling both for business and pleasure. The trains of people passing my house on bicycles daily suggest the latter, and that is awesome.
Regardless of where you stand in the sport-transportation continuum, the book Tour de France/Tour de Force: A Visual History of the World’s Greatest Bicycle Race
by James Startt is a great look into the evolution of the competition, technology, and that certain drive that is common to all cyclists, whether we’re trying to climb the Pyrenees or get to Durham in one piece.
The book was printed in 2000 and updated for the 100th anniversary of Le Tour in 2003, and so is missing almost a decade of that history now. Even so, the first hundred years provides plenty of material and stirring photography. And while it is a visual history, there is plenty of text to go along with it.
There is the activism of some riders against the treatment by the organizers over the years (an inspiration to all who want to stand up for respect on the roads), the challenges of a race where even derailleurs were banned until 1937 (an intriguing thought for someone who rides a singlespeed most of the time), teamwork (and lack thereof), and the eternal conflict of man versus nature (something I am sure we’re all familiar with after this past winter).
This is a great casual read, and just in time for July, when nearly two hundred riders will don their jerseys and loop around France once again, as they have most years since the first group of 60 did in 1903.
Tour de France/Tour de Force is available on Amazon at http://amzn.com/0811824926 or at the Chapel Hill Public Library.