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on 21 November 2013
I read Neds Yellow Jumper book before this and saved this until I went on holiday. I got more than halfway through this book just on the outbound flight, it's a fantastic book. I'm fairly new to cycling, I don't know much about it's history in the UK - some names are talked about but others I have never heard of. Ned has met many British cyclists through the process of writing this book and he tells their stories very well. I feel I now know so much more about the history of British cycling thanks to this book.

For those who haven't grown up in the world of cycling, it is a good insight into the past and how it's led to the present day, the traditions of the sport and the unspoken rules. There is as much focus on the everyday man (or woman!) cycling on the local country roads as there is of British riders from the Tour de France from years back. I think this book has something for everyone and it's well worth a read.
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on 11 April 2017
Good read.
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on 21 July 2017
If you're at all interested in the history of British cycling read this- full of amazing anecdotes and a great tribute to a lot of the early pioneers of the sport in this country.
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on 2 April 2015
Funny, informative and easy to read - recommended.
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After tackling the Tour de France in his first outing, Ned Boulting now gives us a book about Britain's domestic cycling scene: an affectionate one, but laced with the properly British quota of eccentrics and devoted amateurs. Each chapter is devoted to a different portrait, ranging from Tommy Godwin, who cycled 75,065 miles in a single year (1939), to a sharply-dressed Gary Kemp, from 80s pop band Spandau Ballet, who now spends Friday morning nipping round Regents Park with other sartorially-minded cycle enthusiasts.

It has no pretensions to be comprehensive, instead picking out details beautifully. Ned Boulting would, I think, like to have us believe that he is a rather bumbling journalist (he is full of stories of calling people the wrong name, emailing the wrong champion, not knowing he's been talking to a cycling great etc). And yet his writing style is evocative, detailed where it needs to be, but never dull; he tells a story with such verve, and captures each interviewee's conversational tics with great style. This is a sharp, very funny book, but also shows Boulting to be a highly-crafted writer: "you really are much stronger than you realise", texts Chris Boardman to him re cycling, after they do a long ride together, and I can't help agreeing, bookwise.

For those who want to know exactly what is covered: that very funny Welsh ride with Boardman (Boulting's on-screen sparring partner during TDF coverage); a bittersweet meeting with Graham Webb (1967 Amateur World Champion); a fab interview with Mick Bennett, head of the Tour of Britain; a totally lovely visit to Herne Hill with Boulting's own daughter, who is the star of the book for me; Maurice Burton, one of the first black British cyclists; a café coffee with Gary Kemp; a hilarious chapter detailing Boulting's efforts on virtual trainer owned by Ron Keeble (Olympic medallist and current commisaire car driver); a tribute to Ian Meek, terminally-ill with cancer and still fund-raising on a bike; a visit to Simon Mottram, head of Rapha; the TWO Tommy Godwins (hence the misfired email); a history of riding 'the Bec', a very British hillclimb; a 100 miler with friends across Devon, North to South; and a visit to Tony Hewson, fifites cycling star.

Most of all, Boulting hears from people who loved cycling when it was a minority interest, people who battled to practice their passion - moving to Belgium and France in pursuit of a dream that few, if any, of them fully realised. It's a real portrait of a sport that has been underappreciated and underloved, and frankly one can only be grateful that times have changed! Not least because now Yellow Jersey can print great books like this. My only possible complaint is that the brilliant story that ties up How I Won the Yellow Jumper: Dispatches from the Tour de Francer finds no parallel here... (but that could never be bettered, really....)

PS for publisher's note - the French word 'dégolace' on p.74 is actually spelt 'déguelasse' - either way, it means vomitty :-)
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on 22 July 2013
I bought this to read in the evenings during my week following the TdF and wasn't disappointed. It's written in the same casual conversational style that Ned's Yellow Jumper book uses, and it makes for a relaxing read esp outside a tent with a vin rouge late into a french evening.

The early chapters do contain a bit too much of Ned doing the "I'm not good enough to be any part of this" routine but once he gets into the meat of the book, talking to and about characters from cycling's past the book takes off and soars. The chapter devoted to the two Tommy Goodwins is brilliant. I read it twice.

It's a thoroughly enjoyable ramble round the history and background of the UK cycling scene, and would be equally suitable for those who have been part of it, or will be in the future. As a bonus I bumped into Mr Boulting (my mate Ned!) at the end of the St Malo stage of this year's tour, and he's a decent bloke so I'm happy to recommend this book wholeheartedly.
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on 19 June 2013
Another cracking read from Ned, he writes as an oursider who is new to cycling and makes sense of it as he write but really he's becoming part of the British Cycling Establishment so this tour of the characters that make up the history of British cycling is a great book for him to have come up with. We've had enough of reading about the great riders and races of the continent it's time to have the British Isle story put on a paper. This is really a series of separate essays, some touching others hilarious, some both. Keep riding and writing Ned!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 May 2013
Anyone familiar with Ned Boulting's previous books, his work on the telly or indeed his Twitter feed, will know what to expect here. A humorous, self-deprecating wander through the modern cycling world from pro to amateur and everything in between. I don't think I'm doing him down by saying that he wouldn't have any great pretensions at having turned out an overly psychological or technical book. No, this is a personal journey through the sport delivered much as it might be discussed down the pub and is all the better for it. My only complaint? Can we have some more please?
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on 7 September 2013
Boulting's personal "Tour of English Cycling" wheels out many linked prickly personalities. Knowledge of the cycling scene, probably on a par with the author, helped to get the most from this affectionate view of the two wheeled world. Although given five stars, after purchasing this book at Main Street Trading in The Scottish Borders, Scotland seems to be the one region of the UK banished from Boulting's examination of cycling's heroes.
Rather than an acknowledgement of the names liberally dropped in the text I would have preferred an index, if only to make writing this review simpler.
Loved the vignette of Maurice Burton standing with all the Brits on the Champs Elysées last year, in with the crowd, not in some VIP area and his embrace with Wiggins. After five hours on the barriers food and a drink were my first priority once Cavendish finished it off!
Also liked the story of Ahmet, The Village Barber, in South London, his business cranked up a gear after a cycling shop opened in his spare room. However, I think Stevie Mathison's "Off the Back" barbers in Peebles, started in a cycling shop in 2004, would make a better example of two neatly fused businesses. Unfortunately Boulting's view of the UK, despite mention of his parent's place north of the border, seems largely to end in Liverpool.
Looking forward to On The Road Bike 2............
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on 27 October 2013
Like Ned Boulting I came to cycling later in life and consequently I don't have much of a grounding in the history of the sport - unlike those that have breathed and lived cycling all their lives.
I found that this book has given, as it says on the cover, a soul to the sport which I have really appreciated.
It is written in an easy to read manner and covers a wide range of subjects (especially those not covered in many of the other books that I have read). Each chapter deals with a different personality in an attempt to understand why cycling has such a grip on the nation - I use personality NOT in the sense of celebrity as understood today, in this sense the people who Ned writes about are personalities in their own sense and much more interesting for that. I could be regarded more as a sociological view of the history and how this has affected our thinking today.
This should appeal not only to those who engage in the sport but also to those on the fringes (partners, wives, husbands, boyfriends etc etc) who are affected by this most gripping of sports and I would encourage those on the peripheries to delve in to this book as well.
I have no hesitation in giving it 5 stars
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