Velopedia: The infographic book of cycling is a unique reference book all about modern professional cycling. Author Robert Dineen teamed up with illustrators Paul Oakley, Nick Clark and Jane McKenna to present fascinating bits of cycling history and trivia through a series of colorful infographics and text.
I loved reading Velopedia for this month’s Book Club post because May is National Biking Month! Reading this stoked my excitement for biking, even though it’s all about the professional racers and I’m nowhere near that!
Psst…There’s still time to join my Free May Family Bike Challenge if you’re interested!
Let’s jump right into the review.
Velopedia: The infographic book of cycling is unlike any book I’ve ever read. With every page chock full of colorful images and infographics, Velopedia felt like a grownup picture book, easy to read, and fun to turn the pages. Velopedia stands out from other books as a well-designed collection of infographics, familiar to anyone who reads articles online.
That’s what made Velopedia so interesting to me. The images mixed with text is something I’m familiar with online, but to see so many together in a physical book was something I’d never imagined before. With every page I found myself thinking, “Hmm. Interesting.”
Fascinating content presented in a unique way is what makes this book great. Velopedia: The infographic book of cycling is part reference book, part pop culture notepad with a strong super fan vibe running throughout its pages.
What I Liked
What’s great about Velopedia, is that it’s easy to flip through. Since every page is essentially a visual chapter, you can open the book anywhere and learn something new. Velopedia is full of random facts presented in a fun way.
For example, the very first infographic discusses the evolution of the racing bike. Drawings of old-fashioned bicycles like the Michaux velocipede and Penny farthing start a procession of bike images which conclude with the Pinarello Dogma F8 bicycle in 2015. I’d never really thought of the evolution of the bicycle before.
Then I flipped to page 182 where I found a review of some of the most memorable outfits worn by sprinter Mario Cipollini. A roman tunic, a full body tiger skin suit, a ‘skin less’ – including a Facebook post where he wore nothing but a helmet.
Contrast that bit of cycling trivia to the historical portrait of the toughest Tour de France in history found on page 124. Apparently the 1926 Tour de France tracked the longest route for the race, yet had fewer stages than previous years. Combine that with dreadful weather, unpaved roads and the majority of cyclists riding without a support team and you’ve got a recipe for the most difficult Tour de France in history.
Each of these snippits of info are presented in a visual, engaging way. Even though I would NEVER say I’m a professional cycling enthusiast, I found Velopedia: The infographic book of cycling an interesting read and felt smarter for it.
What I Didn’t Like
While the book is well laid out and full of interesting, easy-to-digest information, unless you’re a professional cycling enthusiast it’s not really worth buying. The information presented is more in depth than your average cycling trivia and sometimes I found myself thinking, “I don’t really care who this doped up biking guy was.”
Because of the full color pages (I assume that’s the reason) the hardcover list price is a bit steep – $28.99 US, $37.99 Canada.
The final thing I didn’t like had nothing to do with the book design, the written words or the illustrations. It’s just a general comment against the rampant doping culture of cycling as a professional sport.
Velopedia quotes cycling legend Jacques Anquetil as saying,
“You’d have to be an imbecile or hypocrite to imagine that a professional cyclist who rides 235 days a year can hold himself together without stimulants.”
Now, you may argue that stimulants and performance enhancing drugs differ, but rest assured that professional cycling is chock full of both.
Anquetil made this statement decades before Lance Armstrong’s (and many others’) doping scandals. Just how many cyclists have doped up, won big and were then stripped of their titles? Basically professional cycling and performance enhancing drugs are synonymous. There’s a half-century-long love affair between the two. I’ll echo Jacques Anquetil and say you’d have to be an imbecile to imagine that professional cyclists aren’t currently doping.
Many questions are brought up by this apparent drug culture, not least of which is this:
Why are we supporting a sport where performance enhancing drugs are rampant?
Now, I readily admit I am not an expert in professional cycling. I’m not even really a fan. So give my opinion a wide berth.
Even with these perceived negatives, Velopedia: The infographic book of cycling was a fun read. If you have a Tour de France afficionado in your fam, this would make a great addition to their library. Father’s Day is right around the corner…
I received a free copy of the book Velopedia for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. Also, I used affiliate links in this post. I get a small commission if you purchase something after clicking the link. Please do so! I’m saving up for my next great family adventure.