The Works

by / / 517 posts

La Vie Velominatus. It is the life we, as Velominati, lead. It is life as a disciple of cycling, of the greater meaning the bike holds and the lessons it teaches us. Along the path, one of our great duties is the wholesale consumption of the great Works related to our sport. From periodicals to books to films, herin lies the list of works considered to be necessary reading and viewing for any Velominatus who wishes to further understand our craft.

All works in this list have been read or viewed by The Keepers or have been recommended by one of our community members; if it is included herein, you can be certain that The Work speaks to the greater meaning of La Vie Velominatus that we pursue. Please feel free to add your own recommendations and we will make sure to update the list as we become aware of more great Works.

The Texts

Rouleur (Periodical)

While pricey by periodical standards, Rouleur is also immaculately curated and written; the entire Rouleur project is founded on everything that makes a velominatus what we are. From guest articles by the likes of Robert Millar, to interviews with Chris Boardman on the selection of Royce hubs for his Hour Record attempt, to a two-part series on how to properly select and mount your tubular tires.

Rouleur is an absolute must-read for any Velominatus.

http://www.rouleur.cc/


Tomorrow, We Ride
Jean Bobet

Perhaps the single most inspirational work on what it means to love the bicycle, Jean Bobet takes us on a journey of life as a scholar and professional cyclist alongside his famous brother, Louison, who won the Tour de France three times. It is a book about his life as a cyclist and a passion for cycling that goes beyond careers and racing results. In some places historical, in others touching, while in others is downright funny. But mostly, it’s about a love for a cycling life.

Paperback: 179 pages, Publisher: Mousehold Press (September 3, 2008), ISBN-10: 187473951X, ISBN-13: 978-1874739517

We Were Young and Carefree
Laurent Fignon

The late and honored Professeur writes an amazing memoir of his life as a professional cyclist. Unapologetic and brutally honest, this book takes us through the highest high and lowest lows of a career better remembered for losing the Tour by eight seconds than he is for winning it twice. The pages are lined with unforgettable anecdotes, from racing bikes alongside The Badger and Greg LeMond, to mentoring the great Gianni Bugno, to the befuddlement of the Old Guard as EPO entered the peloton in the early nineties.

Paperback: 304 pages, Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press (July 5, 2010), Language: English, ISBN-10: 0224083198, ISBN-13: 978-0224083195


Le Metier
Michael Barry

Le Métier (the craft) is something just this side of an addiction. Barry beautifully describes the struggle and agony inherent in professional cycling; he portrays a miserable existence, saved only by the fact that these select few are permitted to make a living doing something they love, even if le métier is a far cry from what drew them to the sport in the first place.
*Synopsis by Steampunk.

Hardcover: 204 pages, Publisher: Rouleur Ltd (April 2010), Language: English, ISBN: TBD


A Dog in a Hat
Joe Parkin

While it covers the same subject matter as Rough Ride – of a young neo-pro learning the ropes of the peloton, including the dark depths of drug use – A Dog in a Hat is an uplifting tale by a rider clearly in love with the sport and everything that comes with it. With none of the bitterness of the story of Rough Ride, Joe Parkin acquaints us with life as a professional in Belgium with grace, humor, and, above all, honesty.

Paperback: 205 pages, Publisher: VeloPress (September 1, 2008), Language: English, ISBN-10: 1934030260, ISBN-13: 978-1934030264


The Rider
Tim Krabbe

Lauded Dutch writer Krabbe intimately captures the essence of the road racer, his hardship, pain and joy, laid bare on the roads of the Tour du Mont Aigual.

“To say that the race is the metaphor for life is to miss the point. The race is everything. It obliterates whatever isn’t racing. Life is the metaphor for the race.”

Paperback: 160 pages, Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (June 12, 2003), Language: English, ISBN-10: 1582342903, ISBN-13: 978-1582342900

Need for the Bike
Paul Fournel

While the cover and the pages within contain various Rule violations, the passion and attention to the little things that make a Velominatus can’t be ignored. The book consists of short passages, each discussing a different, fundamental aspect of cycling. Not about racing, this book is about passion for the sport at a recreational level.

Paperback: 150 pages, Publisher: Bison Books (September 1, 2003), Language: English, ISBN-10: 0803269099, ISBN-13: 978-0803269095

Slaying the Badger

Richard Moore

The easy-going, trusting, and entitled personality of Greg LeMond clashed with the brash, take-what-you-can, aggressive personality of Bernard Hinault during the 1986 Tour de France, resulting in one of the greatest editions of the race. The race was fought not only on the roads of France, but through a psychological battle that was sparked not just in 1985 as is widely accepted, but the day the two met on the Renault team in the winter of 1980/1981.

Paperback: 304 pages, Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press (May 26, 2011), Language: English, ISBN-10: 9780224082907, ISBN-13: 0224082906

Paris-Roubaix, A Journey Through Hell
Philippe Bouvet

Simply stunning is this book. If you have a soft spot for L’Enfer du Nord, you must own this. You can almost taste the mud in your teeth and feel the pain in your bones as the riders rattle over the stones. As much a great history of the race as it is visually striking. A tribute fit for the Queen.

Hardcover: 223 pages, Publisher: VeloPress (September 1, 2007), Language: English, ISBN-10: 1934030090, ISBN-13: 978-1934030097

Intimate Portrait of the Tour De France: Masters and Slaves of the Road
Philippe Brunel

The photos in this book will draw you in, but eventually you’re bound to discover that the pages of this immaculate work are filled with reverent prose  that can be read and re-read. The book covers many of the greatest legends of our sport both on and off the bike and contains some of the most recognizable photos of our sport. It appears out of print, but is still available on the second-hand market.

Paperback: 156 pages, Publisher: Buonpane Pubns, Language: English, ISBN-10: 0964983508, ISBN-13: 978-0964983502

Tour de France: The 75th anniversary cycle race
Robin Magowan

This what happens when you put a real writer in a following car. Robin Magowan is an excellent writer of prose and poetry and he records one Tour de France from the road, not from a press room. This is the Tour of Thevenet and Maertens, it’s the post-Merckx era. I have a copy to loan but owning this would be a wise investment. It’s excellent.

Hardcover: 203 pages, Publisher: Stanley Paul, London, (1979), Velopress 2nd edition (May 1996), Language: English, ISBN-10: 1884737137, ISBN-13: 978-1884737138

The Death of Marco Pantani
Matt Rendell

Fans of Il Pirata may have a hard time reading this studiously researched and compelling biography of one of the legends of our sport. It paints no pretty pictures and dons no kid gloves as it chronicles Marco’s life in detail. Nor does it serve as a muckraking exposé into the rise and fall of this great athlete. Rendell’s work serves as, what The Independent aptly called, an ambivalent tribute. From his upbringing in Cesenatico, to his first races as a promising youth rider, to his storied 1998 season, to his descent into addiction and self-loathing, Rendell captures the passion, athleticism, and complexities of Pantani’s too-short life. If you’re a fan of Il Pirata who is hesitant to read this book for fear of your Pantani bubble being burst, we challenge you to read it anyway. The Keeper who wrote this review came away with an even deeper appreciation, respect, and compassion for the man in spite of having to read about some of the darkest places a Cyclist can go.

Copyright 2006, 323 pages, Phoenix Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-7538-2203-6

Rouleur Photography Annuals

There is no more photogenic sport than cycling. A big call, yes, but one that is supported by the consistently stunning examples offered every year by Rouleur Magazine’s Photo Annual. And of course, their fine writers aren’t entirely forgotten, with typically verbose text accompanying each photographer’s contibution.

Publisher: Rouleur Ltd. ISBN: 9780956423306 Hard or Soft cover available.

The Escape Artist

Matt Seaton

“A beautifully written book which depicts the struggle between a fulfilling home life and a satisfying bike life. Seaton manages to describe the skill, drama, speed and pain of cycle racing as well as giving the book a very personal feel.”    *Synopsis by Dexter.

Pages: 192  ISBN 13: 9781841151045  ISBN 10: 1941151041

Publisher: Harper Collins  Date: 2/06 2003  Sub-title of Text:  Life From The Saddle

515VYySL9HL._SY300_

Road Racing Technique and Training
Bernard Hinault and Claude Genzling

Many of us had our first introduction to The Craft through Greg LeMond’s Complete Book of Cycling. But where did LeMan acquire his wisdom? Possibly from The Badger himself. Bernard gives the fundamentals on how to destroy opponents as well as properly adjust the seatpost.

Beautifully translated from French, the Cyclist is frequently referred to as “the organism”. Sadly, there is no chapter on punching out French protesters who dare to block a race course.
*Synopsis by @fignon’s barber.

Paperback: 208 pages, Publisher: Vitesse Press (31 Dec 1994), Language: English, ISBN-10: 0941950131, ISBN-13: 978-0941950138

The Films


Road to Roubaix
Masterlink Films

This film holds an important place in every Velominatus’ Roubaix Sunday Ritual, which should include riding over the worst roads in your neighborhood, watching the race, and watching this movie.

This film is not a race video; this film is a tribute to everything that is beautiful and brutal about the Spring Classics. The incredible cinematography is paired to rider interviews so intimate, you simultaneously worship and pity these hard men. An absolute must-see for any rider who loves the classics.


Stars and Watercarriers/The Impossible Hour
Jørgen Leth

This is a double-feature DVD containing two classics, Stars and Watercarriers and The Impossible Hour. Both narrated by the Dane Jorgen Leth, these films are an entirely unique take on this amazing sport of ours. The scenes of the riders carrying out their work and preparing for races are the stuff that inspire us to enter La Vie Velominatus. Stars and Watercarriers takes us through the Giro d’Italia where Merckx dominates the race, and The Impossible Hour covers Ole Ritter’s attempt to reclaim the Hour held by Merckx.

La Course en Tete/The Greatest Show on Earth
Joël Santoni

La Course en Tete is perhaps the most iconic cycling film of all time; anyone wishing to better know The Cannibal is obliged to start here. Following him at the height of his career, this film reflects the man training, at the table with his family, and dominating races. No other rider compares to The Prophet, and no other film is a more suitable reflection of his career.

The Greatest Show on Earth shows us why the Giro is better than the Tour, as we follow Merckx through the ’74 edition, which he struggled to win by a mere 12 seconds.


A Sunday in Hell
Jørgen Leth

Another classic Leth work, this film moves at a pace that dramatically contrasts the chaos of the race itself. A Sunday in Hell documents what it takes to race the hardest of the classics by following the hardest of the hardmen during the golden era of the race: Merckx, de Vlaeminck, and Marten.

Only Leth would include the scenes for the Velominatus such as the one at the neutralized zone where Merckx borrows a rival team’s spanner to adjust his saddle a trifle.


Breaking Away
Peter Yates

This is easily one of the greatest ‘Hollywood’ films featuring cycling. Even other cyclists who may not have heard of the 1979 Oscar winner for Best Screenplay seem perplexed and unable to grasp the concept of a teen coming-of-age film featuring that rarity of Hollywood filmdom, a *gasp* cyclist.

And that’s all that Breaking Away is. It’s not a cycling film, not a fly-on-the-wall doco like A Sunday In Hell or Hell On Wheels. In fact it’s completely bereft of hell in any form. It’s heaven, sometimes on wheels, sometimes in Mike’s Buick, sometimes in the swimming hole at the old abandoned limestone quarry.


The Flying Scottsman
Douglas Mackinnon

Graeme Obree holds a hallowed place in cycling, this film puts into sharp relief what kind of personality it takes to turn the entire world of cycling on it’s head and claim one of the most honored and difficult records in our sport.

This film is based on Obree’s autobiography. Unlike most other films made from books; Obree himself was involved in this project and even built a replica of his the bike he had built to carry his inventive aerodynamic position. This tale is tragic and triumphant all at once. It also demonstrates that Scottish is basically it’s own language; American’s will need to pour themselves an ale in order to have any hope of understanding the dialog.

Overcoming (2005)

Directed by Tomas Gislason

“Unlike the recent HTC-Columbia feature-length advert, Overcoming truly gives the feeling of life in a Pro Team. It’s also the only film (of a genre) where the extras are as good as the movie, and it only serves to make us love Jens even more (if that were possible!).”

*(Synopsis by Jake Scott)




  1. @unversio

    “Slaying the Badger” airs on ESPN July 22 at 8:00 pm Eastern time

    copyright ESPN ??

    That is one shitty photoshop job on that poster! Good grief!

    Cycling’s greatest rivalry? Coppi-Bartali? Saronni – Moser? Anquetil – Poulidor? Kelly – Vanderarden? Boardman – Obree? Hyperbole . . . .

  2. ESPN film involving an American sticking it to the French. Of course there will be hyperbole.

  3. @wiscot You’ll need to get past this promo image.

  4. @unversio

    @VeloVita Finding Kochli interesting in the fact that he raced against Jacques Anquetil. And played a large part in cycling history “” as he did prompt Bernard and Greg to race race harder than most.

    Oh I certainly thought he was interesting.  The whole Sun Tzu ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ thing in regard to Hinault attacking LeMond made no sense to be whatsoever in this context (at clearly made no sense to the interviewer or Kochli).  Nor did having a team where each rider simply races for his own ambitions.  Of course, its very possible Kochli explained himself better that the director wanted us the viewers to believe in order to maintain the narrative he wanted.

  5. @VeloVita Agreed. His recollection of events was causing physical WTF on his composure. That concept is simply a demolition derby — whoever can inflict the most damage will be left alone and the attacks will then stop. I am only wanting to dig further into the Kochli chronicles. And learn what can be taken from the WTF method.

  6. @unversio

    @wiscot You’ll need to get past this promo image.

    I know, I know . . . but seriously, is that the best they could do? I remember the battle between Hinault and Lemond only too well being an old fart.

    Movie posters, they just ain’t what they used to be . . .

  7. @wiscot

    @unversio

    @wiscot You’ll need to get past this promo image.

    I know, I know . . . but seriously, is that the best they could do? I remember the battle between Hinault and Lemond only too well being an old fart.

    Movie posters, they just ain’t what they used to be . . .

    Was this ever even shown in a theatre? (apart from the London screening that Greg, Kathy and Richard Moore attended)  If not, why is there even a need for the poster.

  8. @frank

    @Niloc

    How come Charly Wegelius’ Domestique isn’t on the book list? I haven’t read any of the others, (though I’m about to) but Domestique was a great read and I learned all about pro cycling.

    Its a good book, but its not a classic that everyone should read. The list could use some updating, but I’m at a loss to see what really deserves to be on the list that’s not there already. Maybe add Wheelmen but that’s about it. More likely that I’d take some stuff off the list.

    @ChrisO

    If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of Cycling books, then you can go over to Amazon and do a simple search.

    I really enjoyed the Wegelius book. Clearly he was being a bit judicious in naming names and I’m not so naive to have been too shocked at some of his disclosures, but I thought it was very enjoyable and gave a side of things that get overlooked in the books by the mega stars. Stars can’t be stars without guys like Charly and it was good to see some teams recognized this and paid him his due. Charly lasted longer than most in the pro peloton because he realized his strengths and limitations. He also realized that he had to fit in to succeed. In short, he was more intelligent and mature than most other riders.

    Spoiler alert, other than his stupid doping, Di Luca went up in my opinion greatly. Cadel kinda the opposite.

  9. Needed to post this under the works. We worked about 16 hours beyond our estimate to build this piece. Inspired by Piet Mondrian and La Vie Claire — we needed to use client colors [sRGB] established over the past seven years. The piece is mostly cork board and small chalkboard.

  10. @unversio

    Needed to post this under the works. We worked about 16 hours beyond our estimate to build this piece. Inspired by Piet Mondrian and La Vie Claire “” we needed to use client colors [sRGB] established over the past seven years. The piece is mostly cork board and small chalkboard.

    Very, very nice. I want one for my office!

  11. @wiscot 850.00

  12. Reading this at the minute. Who’s the Aussie that Mr Bassons mentions ?

  13. @Barracuda what year?

  14. hmmmm

  15. @Mikael Liddy  –  A.N.S. is mentioned in previous pages.   This name appears to be a new one, however not divulged.

  16. Neil Stephens is in the same COTHO boat as Jens. Competed and won in the rocket fueled years but saw nothing, took nothing riding alongside tricky Dicky at Festina.

    I wonder what he and Matt White talk about at breakfast…

  17. A bit of weirdness involving Wiggo and the Skybots

  18. Just found a truly amazing stash of old photos here.

    Well worth a look.

  19. Finished reading Mr Bassons book,  nothing new in its content but still a good read.  Recommended

  20. Just finished Richard Moore’s newest , “Etape”.  Highly recommended, contains new insight into great Tour stages that we THOUGHT we new everything about. Well written and a fast read. One caveat: pay the extra $3 on amazon for the UK version, with the Badger on the cover, rather than the US version which, for some reason has Schleck on it.

  21. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MMYw8-cZq8

    Saw this movie, correct me, work of art, about Il Lombardia classic. If you can live with Dutch (and Italian) narratives (English subtitles available) I’d highly recommend it!

  22. Now embedded …

  23. You need to add Phil Gaimon’s “Pro Cycling on 10 Dollars a Day”  Funniest book ever, and deaply insightful.

Leave a Reply