Book Review: French Revolutions – Cycling the Tour de France

French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France by Tim Moore, Vintage books, London 2002.

Make no mistake, Tim Moore is a funny guy.  French Revolutions had me chortling out loud on every second page or so.  Even if the chortles dried up, my enjoyment levels never dipped.  This is an engaging and amusing read.

According to the blurb, Tim Moore is a London-based travel writer and journalist with six or more books to his name: by his own account he was anything but a fully seasoned cyclist before he undertook the challenge that provides the backbone for this book – to cycle the route of the 2000 Tour de France.

While he may not be the most accomplished cyclist, Moore’s writing certainly communicates his love of the sport of cycling and his admiration for the greats of the past.  French Revolutions is dedicated to Tom Simpson.  The book is full of pithy, often rude, but always kindly references to the likes of Lemond, Boardman, Roche, Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault and Indurain to name but a few of the book’s passing stars.  If like me, you are a plodding tourist, but with dreams, however misplaced, of future glories, French Revolutions will give you lots of inspiration and insights into racing cycling.

Obviously, this is not a book aimed at the world-tourer.  Rather it is part-romp, part-homage to racing and part personal diary of a single trip.  It is not where to go to find details of routes nor ‘how tos’.   It does have one core message for the would-be, but novice tourist: you can expect and hope to get better and fitter on the trip if you stick at it.  Moore at the outset is unprepared and ill-equipted for long days and any significant inclines.  By the end he is taking on some of the major cols of the route (and the occasional other cyclist) and seeing them off with them with some aplomb and a real relish.  For that message alone, its worth a read.

French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France by Tim Moore, Vintage books, London 2002. Recommended with 3 stars.   Available here from Amazon.

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