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Vélo by Paul Fournel

Illustrations by Jo Burt

Vélo is a unique look at the bike. Through a series of short essays, Paul Fournel beautifully evokes the experience and spirit of all aspects of cycling – from the glorious moment of first learning to stay upright on two wheels to the joy of riding with friends; from the delight of on days to the hell of off days; from the Tour de France to tours of landscapes discovered while out riding. Accompanied by illustrations from Jo Burt, these pieces are the story of a love affair not just with the bike, but with everything it represents.

When I ride with someone for the first time I immediately cast a glance at his legs to know which speed we’re going to go and to know what my lot will be.

You can read a cyclist by his legs.

If you come across somebody who’s a shaver, beware: generally they go fast and they’re in shape (the out of shape rider willingly lets his leg hair grow back). The slightly chubby leg, vaguely weighed down and with indistinct contours means, on the other hand, that there remains work to do and that a gentle ride will be just that.

The slender leg, with an ever-so-small calf, is the leg of a climber (no unnecessary weight). The voluminous thigh – that’s a sprinter. The long harmonious leg- that’s a rouleur. A short femur? He’ll be swift. Rounded bum? He’ll set off strongly. Slender ankles and knees, he will have class.

Contrary to what’s usually asserted, fat calves are of little use: the essentials of cycling power are concentrated int he back, the buttocks and thighs.

At the height of the season, it’s difficult to forget your legs. They are the site of curious physiological phenomena. The most surprising is ‘big thighs’. Having accumulated I don’t know what kind of fatigue, the thighs swell up and get firmer. They don’t fit into your shorts any more, or your trousers, and you find yourself burdened with two ham-like thighs whose cycling worth is relative, at least for a few days.

I dream of a masseur who would supply me with supple muscles, unknotted cramps, and kind words that would give me two beautiful legs.

Care instructions

Store upright with spine facing out in bookshelf
Ensure bookshelf is not situated in a damp environment
Keep out of direct sunlight
Turn pages by the corner

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