Best Cycling Books by Women – part 1
This blog post was prompted by a recent realisation that the majority of blogs about books on cycling only featured one or two by female writers. Women are already outnumbered in the cycling world 3 to 1 and so I felt it was about time we did something to promote those female writers who are out there writing and inspiring other women.
With help from the amazing Adventure Queens and Love Her Wild Facebook groups and my colleagues for ideas, here are some of the best Cycling Books by Women
Blogger ‘Lady Velo’ aka Jools Walker rediscovered cycling aged 28 and found herself in an industry not particularly open to women, especially women of colour. Her blog and now book tells of her battles with mental and physical health issues and her one constant – her love for cycling. She talks to other trailblazers changing the face of cycling and shows us how to embrace all types of being on a bike – lycra-clad or not. A real joy to read for seasoned riders or those just starting out.
Although Emily Chappell has made it to the dizzying heights to be featured amongst the male writers in several cycling book blogs, this book was also nominated multiple times by women in Adventure Queens and Love her wild. Her book captures the intensity and extremes of ultra-racing where she is tested to her physical and mental limits in the Trans-Continental bike race. This sits alongside frank discussions on dealing with tragedy and grief and is inspirational and emotional rollercoaster of a read from one of the world’s best endurance athletes.
A personal favourite, Kat Jungnickel’s exploration of Victorian cycling wear makes for a fascinating read. This book is a research project into the patents developed by women on the later 19th and early 20th centuries to create clothing suitable for riding a bicycle and the creation of such garments in wonderful modern fabrics. A reminder of the origins of women’s cycling when it was more than just a bike, it was a ticket to freedom and advancement of our gender.
Any book that starts with the simple Mark Twain quote “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live” has got to be a keeper and Susie Kelly’s mix of humour and determination on her French cycling adventure is just that. Following the route of Marie-Antoinette’s fateful journey, we are told of historical tales and travel mishaps through their 750-mile ride through France. One to inspire the non-cyclist and cyclists alike.
If you ever think you’re too old, too inexperienced, too unfit to cycle the world then you’re wrong! Reading Anne Mustoe’s story of quitting her job as a headteacher and cycling around the world is enough to inspire anybody! With little to no experience and unable to fix a puncture Anne takes you on a journey full of history, humour and lots of stops for tea.
Another book with multiple nominations from the online community, Full Tilt tells of Dervla Murphy’s crazy travels from Ireland to India on her bike in 1963. Her journey through Persia, Afghanistan and over the Himalayas into Pakistan and India has every drama from wolves to near starvation. If this was fiction, you would think it pushing the realms of believable! Embracing the local cultures and hospitality as she travelled, she tells her story of adventure and discovery. Some historic viewpoints around race may be jarring to the modern audience.
Josie’s aversion to cars stemming from an accident early in life, pushed her into the arms of her first bicycle and in turn her cycling adventures. Her enthusiasm and thirst for adventure shines through in her witty anecdotes of both disaster and wonder in this compilation of her stories of biking trips around the world. Accompanied by quirky illustrations and maps, her stories take you from Sahara to Nepal and China to Paris meeting characters aplenty and inspiration in spades.
Julia R May
Julia’s humorous storytelling and huge amount of interesting facts along the way, make for a great read in her retelling of her cycle touring trip along the Rhine with her husband. From source to sea through Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands, the banter between husband and wife makes for entertaining reading amongst the history, flora, fauna and of course beer and cake reviews too.
From start to finish with planning and getting off the doorstep in Wales to dealing with set-backs and reaching Chamonix, Ali Maloney takes you on her 767-mile journey of blood, sweat and gears. This read is truly relatable and has a focus on the psychology and mindset needed for a challenge like this as well as a full roadmap of the process involved in a big trip such as this. You get a bit of everything; the highs, lows and everything in between.
Travel, cycling and real ale – all in one book! A quirky telling of an epic trip through the UK with snippets of history and descriptions of each section of the ride alongside copious amounts of beer and interesting local brewery facts. Her style is plain-spoken and relatable and makes you realise that it is less about speed and more about enjoying the journey and making the most of each day of adventure. Oh and enjoying the ale!