From the Library: Blazing Saddles...

You know, there are a whole slew of books in the library that were acquired before I began to write this blog or, the even further back, that blog (ClaremontCyclist). This does not mean they are not worthy of their shelf spot, nor their own little review here. Blazing Saddles is one of those older, before-blog (b.b.) books. If you check in here daily you may notice a series of From the Library posts in rapid succession over the next few days / weeks until I get caught up.

Blazing Saddles is, in a general way, organized by epochs - "From One War to the Next", "The Years of the Badger" - like that. Within each of those sections Rendell recaps each year's Tour by briefly noting the main protagonists, and prominent moments during the course of the action. Most of the years are recounted in fewer than five pages, many of them only two or three pages, far from comprehensive. But those high points, dramatic turns of events, outlandish attacks, crushing defeats that the author uses to capture the spirit of the race keep the reading rolling along at a good, can't put it down, clip. There are some fun moments of humor too, such as the photo of Gino Bartali following his 1938 win and accompanied by the caption: "After winning the 1938 Tour, Gino Bartali is put through the ritual humiliation of open male snogging before a crowd of thousands." Yes, the book includes a terrific collection of historic photos. I found out stuff I didn't know before, which makes it not only a good read, but a good reference as well.

Rendell, Matt   Blazing Saddles: The Cruel and Unusual History of the Tour de France   Boulder, CO: Velo Press, 2008