Archived entries for Cycling

Racing Hard

Racing Hard

Last weekend the Tour de France started in Yorkshire before coming to the Capital on Monday via Cambridgeshire, Essex and Enfield. Now, with the magic combination of mobile phones and social media, you didn’t have to be there to get a great insight, with photos and videos posted from numerous different vantage points on the routes on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It wasn’t always so. When the Tour came to Tunbridge Wells in 1994 for anyone who wasn’t there newspaper reports gave a rarer glimpse of what it was like being there as bikes came round at pace on local streets. William Fotheringham’s piece at the times tells of the community spirit and excitement on the streets that looking back it now seemed to be a forerunner for the atmosphere that was to sweep the nation when the Olympic Torch came round before London 2012. Continue reading…

Tour de France Books

Cycle of lies - book on Lance Armstrong

Cycling Anthology - Volume 4

As road cycling takes over Yorkshire this weekend ahead of a day in the Capital tomorrow, some Tour de France books recommeded by Mark Perryman.

There seems to be something about cycling that helps inspire fine sportswriting. Perhaps it is the landscapes and countries traversed, the solitude on a bike, the risk factor of a fall or worse, the extraordinary feats of human endurance, and human-powered speed too. Add a healthy dose of British elite level cycling success plus a dash of greenery and its no surprise that publishers are backing bicycling authors to deliver sales, for the most part with very good books too. Continue reading…

Sports Books – Summer 2014

Pirates, Punks and Politics -FC St Pauli Book Review

Mark Perryman shares his tips for Sports Books in the Summer of 2014.

Summer 2013. The British and Irish Lions win their test series against the Aussies down under. Andy Murray wins Wimbledon. Chris Froome makes it a second Tour de France British Yellow Jersey in a row. Mo Farah does the double in the 5000m and 10,000m at the World Athletics Championships. For the second summer in a row, sporting Brits are forced for once to come to terms with what it feels like to be winners.

Of course the glorious appeal of sport is its unpredictability. A year ago Man Utd won the League by 11 points with Sir Alex in his retirement pomp. A year later Utd managed to hold on to 7th place. The best sportswriters engage with the cause and effect of unpredictability to capture not only the glories of victory but the far more common experience, the miseries of defeat. 2013’s summer of British victories only meant so much because most of us were better accustomed to the experience of British plucky losers. Amongst the finest sportswriters to cover this emotional scope was Frank Keating and The Highlights is a posthumous collection of his superb writing spanning more than fifty years of sport, reviewed in-depth on this website earlier this week here. Continue reading…

Sports Books Summer 2013

Red or Dead

Mark Perryman rounds up the Sports Books of summer 2013.

The Lions series victory in Australia, Murray’s triumph at Wimbledon, Froome making it two British Le Tour wins in a row, Mo in Moscow, a home Ashes win as well. Summer sporting success is something the Brits are starting to become accustomed to.

Two new books help us to understand the meaning of sport’s enduring, and huge popularity, as well as how economic and social change impacts on the organisation, consumption and performance of sport. Sport in Capitalist Society by Tony Collins is a highly readable historical account from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day of how capitalism has served to shape sport. Victorian morality, Empire, the Cold War, globalisation and much more are each detailed in terms of how they served to change sport. Add all the insights together and a comprehensive picture of today’s marketisation of sport is provided. Edited by Michael Lavalette Capitalism and Sport has a more activist-based approach to the subject. The range is amazing, including cycling, cricket, rugby league, tennis, football and more. The tone is angry yet never fails to be appreciative of the sports the authors clearly hugely enjoy despite their opposition to the economic structure that frames their fandom and participation. An invaluable guide for sporting summers past, present and future. Continue reading…

British Sporting Success

After more British success in the 2013 Tour de France, Mark Perryman, editor of a new book on last year’s London 2012 looks at what it means to a collective national identity.

A British encore in the Tour de France. Not even a sniff of winning the yellow jersey for 99 years, now we have two in quick succession. On the same day England pile up the runs at Lords to go 2-0 up in an Ashes series, for the first time since 1979. Add Andy Murray at Wimbledon ending the 77 years of hurt since the last British man won the singles title at our ‘home’ Grand Slam and the Lions tour victory down under, their first since 1997. Plus golfer Justin Rose winning the US Open, the first Englishman to win a major since 1996. 2013 already has all the signs of repeating what seemed to be an unbeatable 2012 summer of sport, topped of course by Team GB finishing third in the London 2012 Olympic medals table. Continue reading…

Two Wheels Are Better Than One

Victoria Pendleton by Lilly Allen

With the Tour de France starting on 29 June Philosophy Football’s Mark Perryman argues cycling is part of a progressive society. (Picture by the illustrator Lilly Allen, commissioned by The Substantive).

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. – HG Wells Continue reading…

Cycling Books 2012

Accompanied by an exclusive illustration of Victoria Pendleton by the artist Lilly Allen for The Substantive, Mark Perryman declares Cycling ‘Sport of the Year’ and chooses his favourite books from 2012 inspired by life on two wheels. Details of The Substantive t-shirt with a Lilly Allen design at the bottom of this piece.

Never mind the BBC hyped-up hoopla of ‘Sports Personality of the Year’, for most successful British sport of 2012 surely nothing comes close to cycling. An extraordinary first, and second, places for British riders in the Tour de France, a hatful of medals in the Olympic velodrome, more on the road too, and by the autumn a new generation of winners breaking through on the track in the World Cup series too. The achievements, matched by an explosion of popular participation is truly breathtaking. Continue reading…

Olympics: Being There – Road Cycling

Continuing the experiences of contributors of The Substantive at the Games, Mark Perryman writes about his day at the Time Trials as Bradley Wiggins won Great Britain a Gold on the Road at the London 2012 Olympics.

Time Trials, Hampton Court Palace

No expensive and hard-to-come-by ticket required. A front row seat guaranteed. Precious little commercialisation, bring your own barbecue. And a Gold Medal performance. Wednesday’s Cycling Time Trial had all the components of the better Olympics I have made the case for in my book Why The Olympics Aren’t Good For Us And How They Can Be. Continue reading…

London Prepares: Track Cycling

Saturday 18 February 2012

The test events ahead of London 2012 are essential, and for the Track Cycling at the new Olympic Velodrome, the maiden event was the fourth leg of this season’s World Cup, which arguably now has a greater depth of quality than the Games itself due to the disappointing change in Olympic rules that will limit individual events to just one rider per country.

That means some of the best cyclists in the World will not be competing in their best events and there was an early reminder of that in a long Saturday daytime session when Victoria Pendleton set the pace early on in the Women’s individual Sprint, which had a mammoth field of 47 competitors in the qualifying heats. The previous night Pendleton and British team mate Jess Varnish won the Gold in the Team Sprint and broke a World Record representing Team GB, indicating the pace of the new track, made from Siberian pine. Of course, in the Olympics, only one of them will now be able to compete in the Individual race.

Continue reading…



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