The entertaining story of one cycling fanatic's journey from bike writer to bike rider
**Shortlisted for Cycling Book of the Year at the Cross British Sports Book Awards 2015**
Cycling journalist Felix Lowe makes the leap from raconteur to rouleur, taking to the saddle for the first time to complete his very own grand tour of Europe.
Lowe's light-hearted and entertaining travelogue charts his progress as he cycles 2,800 kilometres from Barcelona to Rome, crossing three countries and cycling over three mountain ranges, taking in some of cycling's most fabled climbs. As he follows in the tracks of some of the world's greatest wheelmen, Lowe puts professional cycling's three major stage races – the Tour de France, Vuelta a España and Giro d'Italia – under the microscope, whilst capturing the potent mix of madness, humour and human spirit that make people identify with the sport so strongly.
Powered by local delicacies and his trademark blend of self-deprecating humour and barbed wit, Lowe takes readers on an immersive journey through the Catalonian countryside, over the Pyrenean foothills and the rolling plains of Languedoc, through the flowery fields of Provence, over winding Alpine passes, between the vineyards and olive groves of Piedmont, and down the Apennine backbone of Italy. His epic quest traces the footsteps of the celebrated Carthaginian general Hannibal, who led his own pachyderm peloton of 37 elephants over the Alps and all the way to the gates of Rome.
As much about the regions traversed as the cyclists who have left their sweat in the soil, Lowe's insightful account celebrates the sport, examines the psychology of both the crazed amateur and the pedalling pro, and delves into the awesome march of a military genius who almost brought the Roman Empire to its knees.
“Excellent... erudite, pun-filled, often bawdy and never less than absolutely delightful to read.”
The Jersey Pocket
“There’s a touch of Tim Moore here... You will laugh and maybe wince as Lowe laughs his way around the Mediterranean.”
The Inner Ring
“Superbly crafted, well-written … Climbs and Punishment is binge reading at its very best.”
Southern Spin, Eurosport
“Lowe keeps up an effortless flow of good-humoured chat and at the end he is a changed man - an aching but ardent pelotonist.”
“Laugh out loud funny ... a highly entertaining book that will appeal to the cyclist and non-cyclist alike.”
“Not only does [Lowe] own a particularly neat turn of phrase but knows the strategic points at which to use it. There is not one chapter that does not pass by without causing you to smile out loud. A cleverly constructed and well-written tale...”
The Washing Machine Post
“Holy shit! That’s longer than a Grand Tour. And is that Hannibal as in Hannibal Lecter? It’s gonna be a bloody massacre . . .”
“Lowe not only regularly pokes fun at the entire undertaking but ... he knows how to construct a coherent, amusing and, most importantly, inclusive narrative. There’s also a neat element of travelogue here too, as Lowe eats his way through a succession of delightful meals in picturesque settings across Spain, France and Italy. Lowe’s amiable approach makes it seem like it would be the most natural and exciting thing to do in the world. Finish Climbs And Punishment and you’ll immediately want to get on the bike, which is, in the end, the highest praise indeed.”