My Tour de France inspired cycling themed book marathon continues with Need For The Bike, a classic that I’d somehow never heard of.
Paul Fournel is a French writer, poet, publisher, and cultural ambassador – a wonderful job description to have, I’m sure you’ll agree. He’s also been in love with bikes since he was a small child, with his father helping choose a bike from one of the many bike manufacturers that existed in Saint Etienne at the time.
The book is basically a collection of short – and occasionally whimsical – essays about bikes, cycling and cyclists.
That description really doesn’t do the book justice. Recall that Fournel is a poet! But he has lived on and about bikes his entire life – regardless of where he was living or what he was doing (OK – he said it was a struggle in Cairo).
The book is a joy to read, in a new edition from Pursuit Books, with a new forward from Ned Boulting. You can read it very easily in short bursts, as none of the chapters last longer than three or four pages. Sometimes they might only be a paragraph.