Queens of pain: Legends and Rebels of Cycling
Queens of Pain tells the remarkable and largely unknown tale of women’s cycle racing from the 1890’s to the early 1990’s. From the fin-de-siècle velodromes of North America to the glamour and chaos of the first women’s Tour de France, Queens of Pain offers a sweeping panorama of female racing history. Told through the lives of the great champions, its heroines include stuntwomen and speed skaters, young mothers and teenage tearaways, shop assistants and coal-delivery girls. When prejudice and officialdom denied them one stage they found another: from six-day track racing to epic place to place records, from 12-hour time trials to unofficial road races. The greatly expanded women’s racing scene of today is the direct legacy of these pioneering riders whose stories form an unbroken thread since the invention of the bicycle.
Tillie Anderson, Hélène Dutrieux, Alfonsina Strada, Evelyn Hamilton, Marguerite Wilson, Billie Samuel, Joyce Barry, Valda Unthank, Pat Hawkins, Eileen Sheridan, Lyli Herse, Millie Robinson, Elsy Jacobs, Beryl Burton, Yvonne Reynders, Lubow Kotchetova, Audrey McElmury, The Hage Sisters, Connie Carpenter-Phinney, Marianne Martin, Maria Canins, Jeannie Longo and Inga Thompson.
Isabel Best is a freelance writer based in Paris. She writes on a range of cultural subjects for mostly British newspapers and magazines. In cycling she has contributed to Procycling, Rouleur and Cyclingnews.com amongst others and is co-author of Le Tour 100, published by Octopus. A keen cyclist herself, Isabel has ridden many cyclosportives in the Alps and Pyrenees, has endured a rain-swept Paris-Brest-Paris and toured through Japan and Taiwan braving snowstorms and typhoons. Queens of Pain is her first solely authored book.
What the reviewers had to say:
— Herbie Sykes, author of The Race Against the Stasi
‘Best should be praised not only for her research into the lives of these women cyclists, but for narratives that are every bit as compulsive as the tenacity of her subjects. Her style does her and them, proud… A publication that you ignore at your peril. A book that will be deservedly talked about for many a long year.’
— Brian Palmer, thewashingmachinepost.net
‘You get the feeling that Best cares about these riders as people, they’re not just the source of bike-bound myths and legends, they exist in the real world.’
— Feargal McKay, Podium Café
‘This book should be read by commentators, journalists, broadcasters, cycling fans, sports fans, and anyone who firmly believes women’s cycling is not exciting enough, female riders are not good enough.’
— Laura Winter, Voxwomen.com
‘Some absolutely wonderful stories about some of the real heroines of women’s cycling.’
— Richard Moore on The Cycling Podcast.
‘A welcome focus on the outstanding cycling achievements of some inspiring women… you are unlikely to find a better written, more lavishly produced, and thoroughly researched tome.’
— Richard Peploe, road.cc
Buy the book here
Interview with Isabel Best and editor Taz Darling here