Book Review: Cycling’s 50 Craziest Stories

Given the date, the obvious thing to do would be to concoct a series of clever, but false, stories about the PROs. Cancellara is retiring because his feet have continued to grow through his adult life and now he can’t get shoes to fit his feet. Or how the Giro d’Italia is, in fact, owned by Silvio Berlusconi and with his tax and legal troubles he has decided to cancel the race indefinitely. Perhaps Ricardo Ricco has just proven his innocence to CAS and is now suing WADA and the UCI for damages.

As the proverbial “they” often say, truth is stranger than fiction. Which is what brings us to cycling writer Les Woodland’s new book: “Cycling’s 50 Craziest Stories,” published by McGann Publishing.

These 50 episodes are often brief in their rendering for this is little need for nuance, for context, for character background. They each, on their face, are so strange as to be worthy of forehead-slapping, belly-holding guffaws of wide-eyed disbelief. These stories can make Brittney Spears seem only a tad quirky.

Told instructionally, as a blueprint for strangeness, a how-to of memorable, these stories beguile comprehension. Charles Terront won a 1000km race on the velodrome. That’s not even the strange part. Terront is said to have won the race by an inner tube, but not in the fashion you might guess.

The temptation is to recount bits of this book, but in doing so, I’d be doing nothing so much as spoiling the surprises and I could do nothing crueler in my recommendation of the volume than spoil the fun.

For those who climb into bed tired, this is the ideal bedside reading, not more than four of five pages to an anecdote. I defy you to drift off during the exploits too strange not to have happened.



  1. Nick Rearden

    I’m sure fellow Brit Les Woodland would endorse me asking this question; why do you colonial Johnies persist in using the word “pros” capitalised as “PROs”?

    1. Author

      Nick Rearden: Style and fun. Every now and then it’s necessary to break the formidable rules of grammar to show our delight for what the giants of the road do.

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