Words & Photos by
In 2013 I was asked to join a year long book project as Project Manager and Copy Writer. Together with photographer Frederik Clement and Art Director Jan Rasmussen our aim was to create the definitive book about Team Saxo-Tinkoff, as they were known back then. Through his year long work with the team, and Trading Bank Saxo Bank, Frederik had gained unprecedented full access, by Team Owner Bjarne Riis, to document the entire Pro race year with the team. A fly-on-the-wall portrait of a Pro team. The victories, the defeats and the subsequent fall-out between Bjarne Riis and Oleg Tinkoff. The result became “Sugar, Water, Recovery”, a Limited Edition book of 256 pages and printed in only 2.500 copies.
Aside from being part of this exclusive project, and proud of the final result, what I learned throughout the year 2013 was how much work it takes to put together a book. To create something like a book isn’t just a simple process. I learned to truly value books. I have always valued cycling and photography, but through the “S.W.R” project I learned to value and love the phenomenon “Cycling Books”.
It is a fact that as a cyclist you can’t ride or train all the time. You need to take a break, to regain your strength, and do something else, but you don’t necessarily have to take a break from cycling. You can immerse yourself in cycling until the cows come home. Internet, magazines, cycling café’s, City or Urban Wear - is all there for the taking - but to really put your feet up, and TAKE IT SLOW - LIKE A PRO you reach for a book.
Unlike the internet, and its here-today-gone-tomorrow fast news consuming, a book is a piece of art. This slow-moving format not only gives you a sense of holding something physical, but equally stimulates your senses with the fresh smell of printed ink. Photographs are given the space they deserve or the writer is given the freedom-of-speech, and not tied to a minimum of 300 words because the reader might surf somewhere else had it been any longer. You know what you are in for when holding a book, and you can’t rush things.
In the cycling book we find a deeper understanding of our sport. Whether it being insight to life on the road for a team, an autobiography by a Pro rider, a historic photographic journal about the roots of cycling, a book about climbs in Europe or a modern visual photographic collection, the cycling book lets us dig much deeper into the core of our sport and its roots. A process which isn’t done quickly, but which lets us consume its content in slow moving pace
I know people who are bigger collectors of cycling books than I. Some have vast collections, but the ones I have I regularly take time to either read or sit and browse through when I feel the need to do something other that doesn’t relate to a computer or another mechanical device.
My latest purchase is the ultimate Tour de France book. A tombstone measuring 30cm x 37cm, weighing a mere 6 kilos and chronicling the history of Tour de France from 1903 until 2015 with stunning visuals showing the Glory and the Pain of the World’s hardest cycling race. Its sheer size, layout and print is a work of art in itself.
Do I intend to read it? They say practice what you preach, and this is true, but with over 782 pages I may need to take it so slow that I might never get on my bike again. I will instead cherish this brick of a book slowly, step-by-step, at times when the cold bites and I feel the need to relax, take it slow and mirror myself in a historic Pro.
In the end I come back on my bike not only stronger, but equally wiser.