Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

No excuses


Hmmm. It’s more than three years since my last post. If you’ve been waiting on tenterhooks and checking back every day then I admire your patience but, honestly, you should seek help.

However, if you’ve been busy like me with other things, please don’t worry that I’m going to keep you here for very long. It’s just to say that during the intervening 40 months, cycling hasn’t stopped nor has science and, consequently, neither have I.

I gave a few talks, chaired the odd conference, wrote a lot of magazine and website articles, sat back in awe as publishers in several countries translated and published new language versions of my book and led some very popular cycling science rides with my mate Derek for the national science festival.

And I’ve been tweeting like there’s no tomorrow (which is always a worrying possibility). Oh, and I revised the UK version of my book and it’s now out in paperback.

I said I wouldn’t keep you for long this time. Hope to see you before another three years pass by. Until then, buy my book, read my articles and wave to me as I pedal past on my way to another laboratory.

There’s no business like …


The Times Cheltenham Science Festival pageNormally these posts focus on the work of others and I’m usually spoilt for choice because, on average, I come across one new research paper about cycling and science every single day of the year. And that’s in the English language, only. You can see them all by following @cyclingscience1 on Twitter.

So today I’ve been struggling to decide whether to describe a new way of detecting when pro cyclists are lying dopers, or the treatment of vulval swelling among long-distance female cyclists (perhaps as a partner piece to the post about the “third testicle“) or how engineers view the benefits of cycle helmets.

Then it struck me that I should write about the Science of Cycling – a live presentation that’s part of The Times Cheltenham Science Festival, on Sunday 8th June 2014, from 4.30pm.

I got involved in October 2013 when I saw tweets that heaped embarrassingly high praise on my book, from someone called Andrea who claimed also to have “a cunning plan”. Falling into Andrea’s trap, I responded. And I’m glad I did. Andrea turned out to be Andrea Sella, professor of chemistry at University College London and an avid cyclist with Hackney CC.

Through the magic of Twitter, emails, text messages and very occasional phone conversations, the outline of a new kind of event took shape. Andrea’s love of eye-opening, mind-expanding demonstrations were designed to complement information and facts from my book.

Over the months, I’ve blagged equipment and material from the cycling industry while Andrea has accrued weird and wonderful things from the outer reaches of science.

But one thing was still missing – an expert practitioner.

Fortunately, the solution was found at Bespoked – the Handbuilt Bicycle Show at the Olympic Velodrome last month. There was Ted James – leading edge framebuilder and ultra-skilled BMX rider. We were thrilled when he agreed to take part in the Science of Cycling presentation.

Yesterday, the three of us came together for the first time. We put our heads together on the full contents for the hour-long show and, with all the demonstrations, explanations, live action cycling, clear explanations, big-screen graphics and exclusive video clips it came to a little under 5 hours 45 minutes.

So, we have a few days to trim it and use only the very best bits which will reveal unusual and unexpected aspects of cycling and science to all those people who are lucky enough to have booked tickets.

Hope you can make it and don’t be scared to ask questions because our aim is to provoke and stimulate.

See you there.

Read on, dear reader…


Cycling Science by Max GlaskinNow that the UK edition of Cycling Science is only a few weeks away from publication (2nd May by Frances Lincoln) I can get round to suggesting other books you might enjoy that are relevant to the science of cycling.

And I might just sneak this blog entry under the wire before the end of March, if I’m quick.

The original book covering the subject is 117 years old. Bicycles and tricycles:an elementary treatise on their design and construction, with examples and tables” was written by Archibald Sharp and published in 1896. If you want to know about geometry and a whole lot more, you can read it online or download all 12.6MB of it for free.

Bicycling Science

If you are really interested in the engineering and physics of cycling, the standard textbook is Bicycling Science by David Gordon Wilson, with contributions by Jim Papadopoulos. The third edition was published in 2004 by the MIT Press. In places it’s quite academic but it contains a massive amount of technical information.

High Performance Cycling

The irrepressible Asker Jeukendrup edited a collection of essays, largely focusing on aspects of physiology, from many contributors in High-Performance Cycling, published by Human Kinetics in 2002. While a lot of new stuff has been discovered since the book was published, it’s got some great peices that are of practical help to competitive cyclists.

High Tech Cycling

The second edition of High-Tech Cycling, edited by Edmund Burke, was published by Human Kinetics in 2003. The essays from 13 different authors look mainly at the relationship between the cyclist and their machine, although there are also chapters relating to physiology and nutrition. A little dated now but I like it.

richards_bicycle_book_covFinally, how can I fail the mention the book that got me started so many years ago? I don’t have a copy any more so I’m going by my fallible memory when writing that it contained very little science. Yet its chapters on riding and maintenance encouraged me to ride further, more often and more enjoyably. What more can one want from a cycling book? It’s Richard’s Bicycle Book, a paperback published in the UK in the 1970s. If you buy it, let me know what you think.

And if you want to recommend other books relevant to cyclng and science, do send me an email or comment below.