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Blazing Saddles: The Cruel & Unusual History of the Tour de France Hardcover – June 1, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Thomas Alva Edison
Leafing through the entertaining pages of "Blazing Saddles: The Cruel and Unusual History of the Tour de France" one is struck by the tone of the book, released just in time for this year's Tour. Instead of the usual paeans of praise to the great athletes of cycling history, author Matt Rendell has instead emphasized that the glorious Tour de France, one of the world's great sporting events, is "[a] fine spectacle of life-threatening exertion, bare-faced cheating, roadside sabotage, ludicrous clothing, extreme intimate discomfort and grown men at the absolute end of their tethers..."
At the pinnacle of the gang of eccentrics who populate this volume must stand the founder of the Tour, Henri Desgrange. Clearly a man who loved to give orders, M. Desgrange had a vision of the Tour as the ultimate test of strength and courage and dogged manliness. He once said that the ideal Tour winner would be the sole survivor. To realize this goal, the early Tours were insanely difficult. With staggering stage lengths over terrible roads and often started in the middle of the night, the Tour de France attracted some Very Tough Competitors, men not mollycoddled by technology. Desgrange objected to freewheels ("Are our races seriously threatened with decadence by the freewheel? Will the Tour de France be undermined by this infernal invention?") and although eventually relenting on that he did prevent racers from using variable gearing until 1937, some 15 years after cycletourists began happily shifting their way up the mountains to greet their heroes en route.
Desgrange, as the inventor of the first great national tour (and still the greatest) had to find his way as he went.Read more ›
Still, if you are a casual fan of the race, this book could be quite helpful in catching you up with the rest of us on some of the stranger, wierder, and more unusual things that have happened over the course of the race's long, colorful history. Also there are some interesting quotes, and the stats at the end of the book are fairly informative.
Perhaps most frustrating is the inclusion of doping scandals in the book. From the very beginning the author makes it clear that doping has always been a part of the tour, ever since the first year. Yet somehow, the introduction of EPO into the peleton suddenly changes the entire history of cycling. The recaps of the last 10 tours focus almost entirely on the doping scandals of the year. We heard enough about that while the race was being run. The author needs to either accept that doping has been a part of the tour for its entire history, and ignore it for the sake of the book, or change the name of the book to Doping saddles, and forget about trying to praise the tour for it's sordid history. This book just didn't have room for both.
On the plus side, the 2-3 page recaps of each year make the book perfect for bathroom reading, and if you read carefully, there are a few moments of entertaining stories and interesting facts, hiding among the dribble.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Book arrived in great condition and sharing it with friends. Good resource if planning to go see the Tour and ride some of the popular climbs.Published on November 28, 2013 by JoeSchwiet
Buddhist-like, this book takes the middle path - it is neither a dry encyclopedia nor an engrossing "best of" Tour de France book. Read morePublished on November 29, 2008 by Mr Bad Example
This book is packed with information and great photos. However, the writing is so poor that it was hard to follow at times.Published on October 23, 2008 by Ty A. Ketlinski