WORDS: Imogen Smith

Whether it’s inspiration, information, or entertainment you’re after, there are a bunch of cycling titles out there to keep you company through lonely nights, long-haul flights, and lazy weekends. Here are our top picks for great reads about life on two wheels.

Higher Calling by Max Leonard

Max Leonard, author of quiet marvels like Lantern Rouge and Bunker Research, is a man obsessed with the stories that make cycling wonderful, taking time to look ever-deeper into the landscapes and the culture that make life on two wheels so endlessly fascinating. When the rest of us might just ride on past, he jumps off his bike to wander the countryside, ask questions, and take photographs. 

Higher Calling asks why we have ‘this obsession with cycling up mountains’, and takes readers on a personal journey through the strange and intoxicating world of the ascent, the aura that surrounds the world’s climbing legends, and the madness that infects amateurs to try to trace their routes. 

This is a funny, insightful, and well-researched book about the myths and the magic of cycling in some of the world’s most inhospitable and challenging terrain. Leonard is an incredible tour guide, writing with honesty, wit, and a generous helping of research. A great read for those who love to follow cycling folklore, and dream of Alpine passes.

RRP: $39.95


The Rider by Tim Krabbe

“Meyrueis, Lozere, June 26, 1977. Hot and overcast. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.”

More than any other book, or film for that matter, The Rider captures what it is to be a racing cyclist. Renowned for its poetic descriptions of the art of suffering and the joy of the bike, The Rider is a slim volume, a novella really, and on the surface, it’s simple: A blow-by-blow account of an amateur race taking place in the south of France in 1977. Given the fame it’s achieved in the last 30 years, it’s incredible to think the book was only translated into English in 2002.

But of course, it’s more than that. It’s so much more than that - it’s everything. It’s Confucianist wisdom on two wheels. It’s lessons about the bike we should never forget, such as: “Nothing hisses quite so sweetly as a rival’s puncture.” It’s substantial. It’s poetry. 

The perfect book for the poet in your life, the dreamer, and the racer.

RRP from $15