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Cycling Fit by Jamie Baird

Release date: 28th June, 2006
Publisher: Anova Books

List Price: £9.99
Our Price: £6.59
You Save: £3.4 (34%)
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Cycling Fit
By Jamie Baird price: £6.59, saving 34% on rrp

As scores of the world's fittest (or should that be 'most pumped-up?) men recover from the Tour de France, the world's most gruelling cycle race, Cycling Fit, a useful new book from Jamie Baird, sprints out from the peloton and leaves the bunch gasping behind.

Despite the ongoing scandals that surround Le Tour, across the globe, tyro Bradley Wiggins and Lance Armstrongs remain keen to emulate cycling's genuine heroes, although they face the reality of uncompromising drivers, lousy road surfaces, poorly maintained bikes - and poorly maintained legs. Jamie Baird's book rides to the rescue.

Cycling is a marvellous, exhilarating sport, the cheapest, most efficient way to travel and, according to Baird, the best way to get and keep fit.

It's a part of growing up for many of us, with memories of our first bike, our longest ride, our scraped knees, our punctures. Older generations of cyclists really do remember being able to ride out from towns and cities and spend long lonely days in the countryside; youngsters face new realities of ceaseless traffic and, with the prevalence of the 'school run' and parental anxiety, may never have used their bikes to go to school or to the shops, let alone explore the land.

Whatever use you make of your bike - sport, leisure, recreation, or commuting - cycling is a great route to fitness. But you and your bike also need to be fit before you start. The comprehensive coverage Baird offers provides most of the answers.

First, the bicycle itself: there are chapters on choosing the right machine, making sure your riding position is comfortable and, perhaps most importantly, on maintenance, which incorporates a useful section on an essential cycling toolkit, together with tips on bike security. Indeed, among the well laid out text and easy-to-follow photographic sequences is what one keen cycling friend referred to as "the best ever guide to dealing with punctures."

Modern cyclists are well-served by a burgeoning cycling industry and there is an amazing range of gear referenced here, including helmets (now ubiquitous and essential), shoes, computers, water bottles and clothing for every conceivable combination of British weather thrown at the enthusiastic cyclist.

The heart of the book centres on personal fitness, thus ensuring that when you do get into the saddle, you get the most out of it. Not surprisingly, that includes diet: there is a long chapter on balanced eating (and drinking), while another section includes exercise routines, such as stretching for greater flexibility, all of which are accompanied by well-illustrated pages.

Baird also includes a series of exercises designed to improve strength and stability, particularly in the upper body. As part of his comprehensive coverage, he shows how to deal with minor injuries, introduces readers to the niceties of cycling etiquette and how they can devise their own fitness training programme.

You could dip into any part of this accessible book and learn something useful. It's written clearly and simply and the photographs provide a perfect accompaniment to the text. Great for winter reading, too, when you make that resolution that you really will get fit this year by getting your bicycle out very soon.

Ultimately, Le Tour will remain beyond the vast majority of us, but as this entertaining book shows, there's still plenty to enjoy from just getting on your bike.

Kevin Donovan

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