This book aims to “give a unique overview to the realm of the velocipede … in a way never seen before”. That way is through infographics, and the result is an unusual book that the publicists would like to be “a must-have for any cycling fan”.
What makes a good infographic? I feel that a good infographic has to live up to the principle of ‘a picture being worth a thousand words’, so it should be a tool to convey information in a better way than the alternatives. A good example that many people come into contact with on a daily basis is the map of the London Underground system, with all of its complexity. The diagrams and drawing used in this book have a lesser challenge, but they are equally as clear and colourful.
Given that the book has been produced by Road Cycling UK, those familiar with that website will find few surprises in the areas that they have chosen to cover: the topics fall under the headings of Bike Tech, Grand Tours, The Classics, Kings of the Road, Tactics, Track Cycling, Road Racing, Doping, Sportives, Classic Climbs, and Fit Club.
The challenge when trying to produce a whole book of information like this is not just in deciding what to include, but also ensuring that the infographic treatment will add some value to the topic. I found the results to be variable: drawings of the World Tour team jerseys are just that, and the information is not really enhanced in any way.
Other topics are well chosen and work well, such as an explanation of how a ‘sprint train’ operates at the end of a race, or Team Sky tactics on a long climb. The book ventures into some quite technical areas such as ‘Programmable gear shifting’, using Shimano Di2 as an example. Other new technology covered includes an explanation of Strava, and the various ways in which power measurement can be used.
The section on the Hour record has strong representation from the UK. After a dormant period there have been some successful attempts on the record recently, and more have already been announced. Since there are no plans for a new edition of this book, any new record holders are unlikely to benefit from the same infographic treatment.
I was disappointed to see several spelling errors throughout the books, but I did not come across any obvious errors in the statistics and information.
This book is not trying to present new information, but rather existing information in a new way. Whilst not every topic chosen is enhanced by the infographic treatment, there should be sufficient variety here for most people to find something of interest.
Review by Richard Peploe