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.
Buy the book here
Interview with Isabel Best and editor Taz Darling here