The best books on cycling

2 authors have picked their favorite books about cycling and why they recommend each book.

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Through Sand & Snow

By Charlie Walker,

Book cover of Through Sand & Snow: a man, a bicycle, and a 43,000-mile journey to adulthood via the ends of the Earth

Also very well written. Charlie chooses the roads less travelled and he meanders for nearly 4 years from the UK to Singapore then back and down through Africa to Cape Town before turning around and cycling back up Africa to the UK. He got arrested in Tibet. Had a pony stolen in Mongolia and nearly got killed by a drunken mob in Ethiopia. Gripping throughout.


Who am I?

Sean Conway is a record-breaking endurance cyclist who has cycled over 100,000 miles in the last decade including cycling around the world, LEJOG twice, and the world record for the fastest person to cycle across Europe.


I wrote...

Big Mile Cycling: Ten Years. 60000 Miles. One Dream

By Sean Conway,

Book cover of Big Mile Cycling: Ten Years. 60000 Miles. One Dream

What is my book about?

In 2008 Sean Conway set off on a 1000 mile bike ride that would shape the next 10 years of his life as he became obsessed with the idea of becoming a real ultra-cyclist. This is his story, how he tried, and failled many times, to break a cycling world record, and the story about his final world record attempt, cycling 4000 miles across Europe. Sean nearly gave up on his dream after tragically losing two of his ultra-cycling friends, but decided to continue in their honour with his quest to chase big miles on two wheels. Sean looks back at some of his cycling heroes, heroines, and the boom in ultra-cycling over the last decade.

Moods of Future Joys

By Alastair Humphreys,

Book cover of Moods of Future Joys: Around the World by Bike Part One: From England to South Africa

One of the most beautifully written cycling books, Al details how he spent over 4 years cycling around the world instead of taking a good job in teaching. Doing a long journey like that before the luxuries of modern technology all adds to the real sense of adventure. I only wish I had had the courage to partake in such a long adventure when I left school.


Who am I?

Sean Conway is a record-breaking endurance cyclist who has cycled over 100,000 miles in the last decade including cycling around the world, LEJOG twice, and the world record for the fastest person to cycle across Europe.


I wrote...

Big Mile Cycling: Ten Years. 60000 Miles. One Dream

By Sean Conway,

Book cover of Big Mile Cycling: Ten Years. 60000 Miles. One Dream

What is my book about?

In 2008 Sean Conway set off on a 1000 mile bike ride that would shape the next 10 years of his life as he became obsessed with the idea of becoming a real ultra-cyclist. This is his story, how he tried, and failled many times, to break a cycling world record, and the story about his final world record attempt, cycling 4000 miles across Europe. Sean nearly gave up on his dream after tragically losing two of his ultra-cycling friends, but decided to continue in their honour with his quest to chase big miles on two wheels. Sean looks back at some of his cycling heroes, heroines, and the boom in ultra-cycling over the last decade.

The Beardless Adventurer and her inconvenience

By Donna Marie Ashton,

Book cover of The Beardless Adventurer and her inconvenience: A first-time cycle trip across Europe

I often find adventure books written by women to be way more honest and inspiring and Donnas book is testament to that. Cycling 5000km through Europe with no previous cycling experience proves that you don’t have to be an ex-Olympian or from a military to go off and have an epic adventure.


Who am I?

Sean Conway is a record-breaking endurance cyclist who has cycled over 100,000 miles in the last decade including cycling around the world, LEJOG twice, and the world record for the fastest person to cycle across Europe.


I wrote...

Big Mile Cycling: Ten Years. 60000 Miles. One Dream

By Sean Conway,

Book cover of Big Mile Cycling: Ten Years. 60000 Miles. One Dream

What is my book about?

In 2008 Sean Conway set off on a 1000 mile bike ride that would shape the next 10 years of his life as he became obsessed with the idea of becoming a real ultra-cyclist. This is his story, how he tried, and failled many times, to break a cycling world record, and the story about his final world record attempt, cycling 4000 miles across Europe. Sean nearly gave up on his dream after tragically losing two of his ultra-cycling friends, but decided to continue in their honour with his quest to chase big miles on two wheels. Sean looks back at some of his cycling heroes, heroines, and the boom in ultra-cycling over the last decade.

Llama Drama

By Anna McNuff,

Book cover of Llama Drama

I’m not usually into reading about places I haven’t visited, because the most interesting thing for me is hearing someone else’s take on things I’ve seen for myself. I get a kick out of nodding along in agreement—or otherwise. But this book came recommended, so despite South America being an enormous gap on my to-do list, I read it. Though it may not score as highly on humour as the others on my list, it’s still a breezy, inspiring read with a quest that arguably eats them all for breakfast. Cycling up and down the Andes for six months is a huge deal. Especially with the same friend, all the time. It certainly isn’t all giggles and selfies. Helmets off to McNuff for sharing the story with such honesty.


Who am I?

I’m a stubborn ox who won’t ever accept that something can’t be done. Tell me I can’t be a Formula 1 reporter for a particular magazine on the other side of the world, and I’ll embark on a journalism degree. Tell me I can’t be a professional golfer, and I’ll quit my job to get practicing. Tell me I can’t camp here, and up goes my hammock. Tell me to grow up and stop fantasising about driving road trains in Australia, and you’re basically insisting I get a truck licence. I like that being this way creates unique stories and that I have a little talent for writing them down.


I wrote...

The Road to Innamincka

By R.A. Dalkey,

Book cover of The Road to Innamincka

What is my book about?

When a 9-year-old R.A. Dalkey decided he was going to become an Outback truck driver, the poor Australia-besotted boy had no idea what he was getting into.

He’d been born on the wrong continent for a start. And even if he could make it out of Africa one day, where was an Australian work visa to come from? Or, for that matter, a licence to drive 53-metre trucks on red desert roads? But he never let the dream drop—not even decades into adulthood. So join him as he pursues the ultimate whimsical travel quest…

Africa Solo

By Mark Beaumont,

Book cover of Africa Solo: My World Record Race from Cairo to Cape Town

Having grown up in Africa I found Mark’s Cairo to Cape Town cycling world record captivating from start to finish. Completing the ride in 41 days (which is faster than many people drive it) was a feat of unimaginable endurance.


Who am I?

Sean Conway is a record-breaking endurance cyclist who has cycled over 100,000 miles in the last decade including cycling around the world, LEJOG twice, and the world record for the fastest person to cycle across Europe.


I wrote...

Big Mile Cycling: Ten Years. 60000 Miles. One Dream

By Sean Conway,

Book cover of Big Mile Cycling: Ten Years. 60000 Miles. One Dream

What is my book about?

In 2008 Sean Conway set off on a 1000 mile bike ride that would shape the next 10 years of his life as he became obsessed with the idea of becoming a real ultra-cyclist. This is his story, how he tried, and failled many times, to break a cycling world record, and the story about his final world record attempt, cycling 4000 miles across Europe. Sean nearly gave up on his dream after tragically losing two of his ultra-cycling friends, but decided to continue in their honour with his quest to chase big miles on two wheels. Sean looks back at some of his cycling heroes, heroines, and the boom in ultra-cycling over the last decade.

Free Country

By George Mahood,

Book cover of Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain

Free Country features two young men, George, and Ben, who plan and execute a three-week, 1,000-mile cycle trip through the English and Scottish countryside. The catch? They embark on this journey with only the clothes on their backsides (Union Jack boxer shorts)! They must depend on the kindness and generosity of strangers to move their journey forward and I found myself anxiously turning the pages with a smile on my face.  


Who am I?

Linda is an award-winning author and travel enthusiast. Her two-book memoir series, French Illusions, is based on her diaries from 1979 and 1980. She has completed an adaption of these books into a screenplay and is currently seeking representation. Originally from Seattle, Linda now resides in Saint Petersburg, Florida with her longtime husband near her youngest daughter and grandchildren. To this day, she tells people that she is thankful for her storybook life.


I wrote...

French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley

By Linda Kovic-Skow,

Book cover of French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley

What is my book about?

Most lies are told with the expectation that no one will uncover them. When Linda Kovic was twenty-one, she told a monumental, regrettable lie, fully aware hers would be discovered. Linda needs to learn a language fast to fulfill her dream of becoming a flight attendant. Yielding to poor judgment, she pretends to speak basic French and contracts to nanny for a wealthy family in the Loire Valley. As she struggles to adapt to her challenging new environment with the hard-to-please Madame Dubois and her two incomprehensible children, Linda signs up and attends language classes at the local university. When she encounters, Adam, a handsome young student, her life becomes more complicated—much more complicated—adding fuel to her internal battle for independence.

Lands of Lost Borders

By Kate Harris,

Book cover of Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road

I’m more of a spin class person than a “cycle thousands of miles through Central Asia” person, but I loved reading about Kate Harris’s months tracing the Silk Road by bicycle in 2011. She doesn’t sugarcoat the hardships of such an undertaking (rain, snow, mountains, traffic, logistics, bureaucracy, scary humans, forbidden Chinese border crossings, friction with the friend who’s riding with her), which makes her human as well as brave, tough, funny, and brilliant. Books like this make huge travel projects seem possible, and even if I’ll never do anything on this scale, I love imagining such epic experiences.


Who am I?

In my third novel, Great Circle, a fictional aviator named Marian Graves disappears while trying to fly around the world north-south in 1950. While researching and writing, I became a travel journalist, partly so I could follow my character into far-flung, rugged corners of the world. Traveling, I encountered people who lead truly adventurous lives, and I started to seek out riskier experiences myself. I swam with humpback whales, tracked snow leopards in the Himalayas, and journeyed across huge seas to Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. I still don’t consider myself a full-fledged adventurer, but I love reading about women contending with the challenges of wild places and their own internal landscapes.


I wrote...

Great Circle

By Maggie Shipstead,

Book cover of Great Circle

What is my book about?

After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. After encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny.

A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian's disappearance in Antarctica. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian's own story, as the two women's fates – and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times – collide. 

Together We Ride

By Valerie Bolling, Kaylani Juanita (illustrator),

Book cover of Together We Ride

The book itself is so simple, pure, and universal - it’s about the joy of a little girl learning how to ride a bike with her father’s help. Valerie Bolling masterfully uses spare text to communicate such emotion and excitement around this independent pursuit, while Kaylani Juanita’s illustrations are a contemporary, visual delight. Besides, who wouldn’t be inspired to ride their bike with such a spectacular view of the Golden Gate bridge?


Who am I?

I write to spread joy and truth. As a proud Black mother living in a country with school districts that see Black stories as threats worth banning, amplifying these stories is crucial to the fight to help humanize us and retain the privilege of celebration and joy. When I wrote The Juneteenth Story, it was rooted in a conscious effort to balance my own joyous summertime memories of celebrating the holiday with the hard truths that established and evolved this holiday. This list includes a small sample of books about some of the many ways Black folks celebrate - enjoy.


I wrote...

The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States

By Alliah L. Agostini,

Book cover of The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States

What is my book about?

On June 19, 1865—more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation— enslaved Texans finally learned they were free. That day became a day of remembrance and celebration that changed and grew from year to year. With colorful illustrations and a timeline, The Juneteenth Story is an introductory history of Juneteenth for kids that details the evolution of the holiday commemorating the date the enslaved people of Texas first learned of their freedom.

Learn about the events that led to emancipation and why it took so long for enslaved people in Texas to hear the news. Hear about the first Juneteenth celebrations, and how Juneteenth continued to grow, develop, and endure through the centuries to become an official holiday in the United States in 2021.

Emmanuel's Dream

By Laurie Ann Thompson, Sean Qualls (illustrator),

Book cover of Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

I’ve had an easy life in so many ways, so I appreciate learning from people whose childhood adversities shaped them to make positive changes in the world. When Emmanuel was born in Ghana with a deformed leg, his future looked bleak. Some considered him “cursed.” His mother encouraged him to dream big and become independent. He refused to be defined by his disability and ended up showing “that being disabled does not mean being unable.” To bring attention to the difficulties disabled people face Emmanuel organized and completed a 400-mile bike ride across Ghana. 

I love this book because Emmanuel’s mother believed he was more than his disability, and the way Emmanuel proved this to be true prompted the Ghanaian Parliament to pass the Persons with Disability Act. 


Who am I?

Ever since I read Island of the Blue Dolphins in 5th grade I’ve loved historical fiction. I am inspired by amazing humans who lived across centuries and around the globe and left their mark on the world. My 2023 book I’m Gonna Paint: Ralph Fasanella, Artist of the People is about a social activist artist. Future published books include middle grade novels on the 1838 Trail of Tears, a day on Ellis Island in 1907, and a 1935 book about Eleanor Roosevelt and the planned community of Arthurdale, WV. Like I said, I love exploring history! I read in many genres, but still enjoy learning about history through fiction.


I wrote...

Priscilla and the Hollyhocks

By Anne Broyles, Anna Alter (illustrator),

Book cover of Priscilla and the Hollyhocks

What is my book about?

Based on a true story, Priscilla and the Hollyhocks follows a young enslaved girl from her early years on a Southern plantation to her forced march along the Trail of Tears to the chance encounter that leads to her freedom. On her journey from slave to free woman, Priscilla carries something precious with her: hollyhocks seeds… and hope. Nikki Giovanni said, “Priscilla and the Hollyhocks tells a story too often ignored or overlooked—a story of how the West was not won but captured. Reading about Priscilla’s remarkable life makes all our hearts a bit warmer of filling our hearts with a much-needed piece of American history.”

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