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One More Kilometre and We're in the Showers [Hardcover]

Tim Hilton
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Jun 2004

The Fever Pitch of cycling. A social and cultural history of cycling in post war Europe seen through the eyes of a veteran racing cyclist.

Written with great literary and historical relish, One More Kilometre will examine the spread of cycling’s popularity, how it developed into a sport and how the bicycle has changed people’s lives – all viewed through the eyes of a seasoned fifty-six-year-old racing cyclist/art crtic who keeps eleven racing cycles in his garden shed and who never cycles less than 10,000 miles a year.

The book will start with the 1950s, regarded as the golden age of cycling, and when the author, ‘an unhappy communist child’, first discovered cycling and its emancipating powers. Progressing through four decades of cycling social history, the author will examine cycling as a Continental phenomenon, the rise and fall of the Tour de France; the lives of the great ‘trackmen’; cycling in its domestic form, cycling for fun, the ever-popular British cycling clubs – some of which are over one hundred years old and are home to many fellow eccentrics, fanatics and old-timers, like the author’s friend, ‘the Yorkshire junior road race champion of 1954, now living in a caravan, crippled and penniless with his much younger companion a taxidermist – beautiful and cruel’.

The book will be a lovely blend of personal anecdote, serious history and informed obsession, combining gentle humour, personal reminiscence and good history.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (7 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002571943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002571944
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.6 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 920,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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‘A deeply affectionate mental scrapbook … Hilton has the skill as a writer to make the subject of cycling fresh and compelling again. Fascinating … Exuberant’ Matt Seaton, Guardian

‘An exhilarating work … just the book for anyone who, shooting past a traffic jam on the way to work, imagines himself wearing the winner’s yellow jersey at the head of the Tour de France pack’ Independent

‘Tim Hilton is a man of sardonic humour as well as high intelligence … his book is one of the most unusual, eccentric and captivating ever written by a “wheelman”’ Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Daily Mail

‘A hugely engaging history of the sport’ Simon O’Hagan, Books of the Year, Independent on Sunday

‘A charmingly eccentric account of his love of cycling, mixed in with a history of the sport’ John Preston, Books of the Year, Sunday Telegraph

‘Hilton is a brilliantly quirky, inventive writer … A wonderful testament to a life in the saddle’ Daily Telegraph

‘Remarkably infectious and richly atmospheric; so much so that the effect is like being hoisted up on to his handlebars and swept along for the ride. His enthusiasm drives everything forward at an exhilarating lick’ Sunday Telegraph

Independent on Sunday

'A lordly memoir...the many insights make this wise and charming book so memorable.'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accessible for the tourist/randonneur/audaxer 5 Jan 2005
An unexpected wellspring for such a book; all the better for it. Tim Hilton writes very well. His enthusiasm for and experience of cycle racing/time trialling gives a great flavour to reminiscence which didn't bore me at all. I particularly liked the tangential observations on well known names like Beryl Burton and Frank Patterson. The first book on cycle racing that I've enjoyed completing; others I remember as rather dour.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sepia toned pleasure 19 Dec 2004
By A Customer
What an unusual cycling book. As a cyclist who has never raced - dawdling is more my scene - I found this a captivating view of a world I have never tasted. Tim Hilton writes with fondness of his cycling days after the war, adding vignettes of the greats of British and continental cycling. You're not likely to read the book in one sitting, but you will find it a perfect companion for a wild winter's afternoon.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
A very interesting book for a number of reasons. Firstly, its not a typical contemporary cycling book - its quite interesting to hear about Hilton's youth, how he was brought up in a Midlands Communist party household and cycling being part of his escape to all sorts of places and people. Second, the history of club cycling in Britain - the racers, races and politics / organisation. Finally, he covers the history and characters of the classic races in Europe (but not through to latter day - he certainly gives the impression that he doesnt like the commercial modern ways of big races like the TdF). All of which is sometimes a bit hard going (personally I would have liked to learn more about Fausto Coppi and Eddie Merx than so many of the British riders and club politics) and occasionally mixed in with bouts of poetry and other literary pieces.
The book can sometime be a little pretentious in the ways it views the 'golden era' of cycling, traditions, French verses without translation for people like me... and so on
But the bottom line is it is hard to put down and before I knew where I was, I was at the end. I would summarise this as a worthwhile read from many different dimensions, I enjoyed it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite cycling book 8 Jun 2010
By Miceal
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one for those who realize that the story of this marvellous machine is about so much more than Lance Armstrong, Chris Hoy and famous people. It's a meandering memoir of how cycling gave the author a life away from his posh, strange, slavishly Stalinist parents (actually, the author's dad was an admirable mediaeval historian - possibly less successful as a father). Yet, while it is autobiographical, it has passages that every club cyclist will relate to. It links the author's own life with the sub-culture that is British club cycling; the cameraderie, the banter and the sense of vitality. That tale is entwined with a history of post-war professional cycling, especially in Britain, introducing characters like Reg Harris and Beryl Burton, cycling heroes who are almost forgotten outside the club cycling scene. The great names of European cycling like Coppi, Anquetil and Merckx do appear, but are merely part of a greater story, as the author celebrates the life-affirming culture of cycling, especially in its amateur form.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A literate cycling book! 28 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are interested in cycling and are also literate it can be tough, most of the books are barely literate and move from cliché to cliché faster than most of us can pedal.
This one is different: Tim Hilton was an art critic, I did not like his art critism but it was literate, but on cycling he shows his real passions. A strange mix of some rather partial biography, a history of the continental tours, and clubman law and life in very provincial England. This man understands continental cycling, much helped by his fluency in French and leftish upbringing that gave him access to the continental working class for whom cycle sport was a passion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Treasure 20 Sep 2011
This is a book about the history of British Cycling. I am Irish. I don't have any huge interest in British cycling. By logic, this tome should have bored me rigid.
But it didn't. Why? Because it was written with enthusiasm, with passion, with wit, and with a deep-seated love for the joy of spinning two wheels.
If you are drawn to the title - off-beat, light-hearted and original - then you should enjoy the book.
Tim Hilton can write. He can spin an anecdote. His personal memoirs, whether they are about his communist parents, or his days in Paris, are very engaging.
Somehow,he details the history of time-trialling and touring - and the pages keep turning.
Hilton has done a huge service for British cycling. Moreover, he has written a very fine book.
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