Warning – French Book

Sometimes the internet and its weird machinery let you despair, more often they make you laugh out loud – like in this case. In preparation for this post I researched the availability of this

DCoverbook, and found a few copies can be had from various sources – at a price, however, and not everywhere. The selfsame book from the selfsame seller is $38 on US Amazon, and £68 on UK Amazon – that´s the despairing part, but the sales blurb headed by this post´s title definitively is the lol one. Lucky me – I bought my copy years and years ago for a few Francs in a French fleamarket.

So, why write a post on this volume? Easy, because it´s nice. It gives you a 40 year plus old view on cyclotouring and randonneuring, and shows that not much has changed. Sure, electronics such as GPS weren´t around, but reading up the basics like nutrition and what your bike should be like hasn´t changed much. Matter of fact, reading Jan Heine or Delore isn´t much of a difference at all – Jan even re-manufactures Mafac brakes now, and leaving the current 650B fashion aside, the drawing of this

DHerseHerse bike (is it by Rebour?) just makes any 2014 brevet rider drool. Well, most.

In 1978, when the third edition of the 1973 original appeared, the book must have been a mine of info, what with dozens of addresses, clubs, and more than 60 pages of ride descriptions alone.

DFlechesDDiagonThis wealth of info came at a time when cycling had just been re-discovered as a pastime after the havoc wreaked on it by the car craze during the two preceding decades. In his preface, Guy Bossière, the then president of the French Audax Union, even writes that Delore is the first complete book on its subject at all. This is blatantly untrue, but at the beginning of the seventies any contemporary well-written and well-researched book on randonneuring must have seemed a godsend to the few serious randonneurs who were still around or were just discovering the sport. Many will have appreciated to be told what to think of in the morning before a long ride, how to read a map looking out for cyclists´ needs, how important mudguards are, the pros and cons of tubs versus wired ons, etc.

From today´s point of view it´s sad that there are not more photos of bikes or parts as the book relies more on the written word than on pictures. Those few which are there, however, are worth regarding, like these showing triplets:

DTriplAlso the single page on the then-fashionable F-frame Moulton

DMoultfullhas a great illustration of a Speed model with the re-designed rear fork and suspension point.

DMoultdetBuilt up with French (Stronglight, Allvit) parts, this must have been a very special machine, showing, by the way, that Allvits were not alway  considered cheap stuff at all.

However, the many vivid descriptions of what you can do with something like this

DGrandeR

is what you will remember of the book.

DDisciplAnd wouldn´t we all show as much discipline as humanly possible if we could join this bunch right now?

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