this post may be rather on the late side, but believe me, there is good reason, apart from the usual round of work related delays. not quite hot off the press, but a welcome arrival is the english version of the official tour de france centennial book, published in the uk by weidenfeld and nicolson, with a foreword by five times winner, lance armstrong.
granted, the tour finished well over a month ago, but i dare say the more prominent publications and websites had their review copies sent out first. so despite the growing influence of thewashingmachinepost (so i am led to believe), i don't think we're too high on the list for review copies of cycling books. having said that, i am expecting, within the next few days, a review copy of the flying scotsman by the man who inadvertantly gave the name to this very website, graeme obree. the comic is serialising extracts from the book starting this week, but i hope to have a complete review of the book as soon as i've received and read it. graeme is competing at the world masters' track championships at manchester this weekend (september 13th) and at which the book is being officially launched.
anyway, to return to the current book in question, this is a particularly weighty tome, with pictures culled from the archives of l'equipe, stretching right back to the very start of the tour in 1903. the statistics can doubtless be found elsewhere, in fact they can all be found in the yellow jersey companion to the tour de france, so l'equipe doesn't have a monopoly on those, but the main reason for this book has to be the photographs.
each year of the tour is covered with at least two pages, generally one of text giving a brief overview of that particular year's event along with a list of the top twenty finishers, the start and finish points of each stage along with the distance, the winner and who held the yellow jersey at the end of each. the facing page has black and white photos for the earlier years, and subsequently colour pictures (first ones in 1960) up to the present day, which in this case was the 2002 race.
certain years obviously had either more interest photographically or perhaps there were just more photos taken, and this leads some years to continue on to a third and fourth page. i have read in another review of this book that the selection of photographs has a tendency to concentrate too much on the carnage. ie there are very graphic images of tom simpson's collapse on mont ventoux, luis ocana's crash and (unfortunately in colour) fabio casartelli's death in 1995. this may, or may not be true. there are literally hundreds of photographs in this volume and i figure that a very small proportion of these depict such serious accidents, so i'm not sure that this holds up as a valid argument. there are far more photos of victorious moments, it's just that the sadder moments stick in the mind as negative aspects. but it would be naive to think that a book covering the history of the tour (as have many books in this centenary year) should only show us the good bits.
jermey whittle's 'a century of the tour de france - le tour' followed a similar format to this 'official' guide, and coincidentally costs the same amount (£25), but if i had to choose between the two, i'd be more inclined to plump for the 'official' guide under review here. (it certainly physically feels a more substantial publication), but the fact that the images are from l'equipe's archive psychologically gives it the edge - you feel as if you have got hold of the official edition).
this was a slightly unexpected publication in english, since there is a french version of this guide available on the continent which costs a bit more but is almost twice the size. when it was released during the tour, many of the international cycle publications and websites exhorted the real fan to try and acquire a copy and even stated that it was a good enough reason to learn french. this may indeed be the case, but for those of us who perhaps don't have the time, inclination or ability to increase our linguistic skills, this version from weidenfeld and nicolson is a more than acceptable alternative.
if you're a real fan of the tour, or cycling generally, get to your nearest bookstore, or amazon (where, amazingly enough, this book was available for around half-price last time i checked) and order or buy a copy. it really is that good.
this whole website got its name because scotland's graeme obree built his championship winning 'old faithful' using bits from a defunct washing machine. however, despite having had his troubles in ensuing years, graeme is now poised to make his comeback this september at the masters' track championships by riding the 3000m pursuit as well as a book about his career. considering the number of requests i have received over the years regarding graeme's training techniques (as if i'd know), i can only hope the book includes at least some of this information. and i hope he wins everything in sight.
on a slightly different note, my regular reader will have noted the addition of a 'colnago c40' rollover to the left. this contains a reprint of a recent article featured in cycle sport magazine, which they were very kind to let me present here (because i'm a colnago geek) i have also found an excellent review of the colnago c40hp here
i have been asked to add the following link to the post by wheelygoodcause. they're a cycling club dedicated to arranging epic rides for charity and do not charge charities for the pleasure. They ride because they want to. here's the link.
Remember, you can still read the review of 'the dancing chain' the utterly excellent book on the history of the derailleur bicycle by clicking here
any of the books reviewed on the washing machine post can probably be purchased from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.
this column almost never appears in the dead tree version of the ileach but appears, regular as clockwork on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.
on a completely unrelated topic, ie nothing to do with bicycles, every aspect of the washing machine post was created on apple macintosh powerbook g4, and imac computers, using adobe golive 6 and adobe photoshop 7. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.