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IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BOOKS

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Professional cycling is deeply rooted in the written word. All three grand tours - Spain's Vuelta, the Giro and the Tour de France itself - were created to boost flagging sales of newspapers.

In Italy it was La Gazzetta dello Sport that instigated the Giro d'Italia in 1908. John Foot, in Pedalare, Pedalare! A History of Italian Cycling relies heavily on the contemporaneous writings of Gazzetta journalists and others - dubbed 'the second peleton' - to add context and colour. Tracing the sport's transition from a heroic pursuit practised by riders from largely rural backgrounds at the start of the twentieth century to what he denigrates as the current 'moribund farce' in which riders pump 'their bodies full of... dangerous substances in order to win', Foot argues that Italian cycling's past - when the sport resonated on multiple levels with large sections of the population - is where its true heart and soul still reside.


What reader could resist del…

SLEEPY CYCLISTS

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Sleep, evidently, is for wimps. That must be why Dave Abbott is going to finish off a week of 11 hour night shifts at BBC News, by cycling all the way from London to his home in Hove, BEFORE hitting the sack for a well-earned slumber.
I will spin along to provide moral support along with Tim Oakley, although only Dave will be pedalling off after doing an entire night's work.

It might be legitimate to ask why anyone would want to ride 60 miles on busy roads - the equivalent of the London to Brighton bike ride, plus a bit extra, with no proper sleep for a week . And here's the answer:


We're doing this to raise funds (see our Justgiving page) for Felix White, a hugely brave six-year old boy who, two years ago, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a particularly aggressive cancer that can come from out of nowhere and spreads like wildfire through the body. In the two years since he and his family found out, Felix has had numerous operations to remove tumours (most recently from hi…

IN PRAISE OF POTHOLES

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The organisers of the 2012 Olympics may not be quite so keen on this pothole on the Box Hill section of the road race route

Potholes may be the scourge of the cycling and driving classes but on my regular commuting route to work, I've come to value them as familiar waypoints which mark my progress. To say I know my 20 mile (return) trip like the back of my hand is to do an injustice to the extremely intimate knowledge I have of every bump, contour, raised or sunken drain cover, hairline crack and fissured stretch of Tarmac, between my front door in Kingston and the office gates in Shepherds Bush.
Riding along the same streets every working day for the last 12 years or so, I have internalised the precise line I should take round every single bend. I'm not just talking everyday directions of the, 'turn left at the lights and straight on at the roundabout' variety; I mean I have memorised minute chicanes between micro-potholes; I adjust my speed to cope with the oncoming c…