The shadows Down Under, in Australia, are long in the afternoon and, for road racing fans, that can only mean one thing: a looming three weeks of late nights watching the world’s greatest cycling race.
London illustrator Nick Higgins is an ardent cyclist and has just released a new book that will prove to be an essential companion for both the knowledgable and novice viewer of La Grande Boucle.
Published by Laurence King, ‘Racing Bicycles’ is a conveniently-sized 210x165mm hardcover tome of 120 pages and 250 illustrations, whose effortless style and fluent discourse barely conceal Higgins’ love for the sport.
It’s an incredibly easy read, but one that is also exceptionally thorough. It would be a challenge not to discover a previously unknown fact, even if you’ve read every other books about professional bike racing.
Higgins is a factual and informed author whose clipped English prose is interspersed with clever humour — enough to keep you flipping the pages for pleasure — and is proof of the hours that he has spent in the saddle himself.
The book is divided into four sections:
Vélo which traces the history of the bicycle from the earliest Célérifère to the most modern carbon creations, and every component that makes up the bicycles.
Races a brief history and outline of the three Grand Tours, the Five Monuments, and the other most well-known races, rides and climbs.
Riders a portrait of some of the world’s greatest riders — including some for not the most obvious reasons, like Marie Marvingt,
Kit a colourful and catalogic rundown of the sport’s apparel and accessories — from maillots to race radios, pharmacy to newspapers.
‘Racing Bicycles’ kept me interested and informed from start to arrive. Higgins’ illustrations add a new dimension to a book on cycling that photographs lose. More often than not, especially with historical treatises, an avid reader will have seen most of the available images but, thanks to these paintings, the art of the ride is captured and can be enjoyed with fresh eyes — just in time for the Tour.
Racing Bicycles by Nick Higgins
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