Climbs and Punishment - the compelling story of one cycling fanatic's journey from bike writer to bike rider

Saddle-shy cycling journalist Felix Lowe makes the leap from raconteur to rouleur, taking to two wheels for the first time to complete his very own grand tour of Europe.

Lowe's light-hearted, entertaining and highly informative travelogue charts his progress as he cycles 2,800 kilometres from Barcelona to Rome, crossing three countries and three mountain ranges while taking in some of cycling's most fabled climbs. As he follows in the tracks of some of the world's greatest riders, 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 nascent Roman Empire to its knees.

** Shortlisted for Cycling Book of the Year at the Cross British Sports Book Awards 2015 **

"Lowe keeps up an effortless flow of good-humoured chat and at the end he is a changed man - an aching but ardent pelotonist." The Times

"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." Eurosport's Southern Spin

"Laugh out loud funny ... a highly entertaining book that will appeal to the cyclist and non-cyclist alike."

"An incredibly well researched book, [full] of humour and witty observations." Spokey Dokey Blog


"Felix Lowe knows how to construct a coherent, amusing and, most importantly, inclusive narrative.  Finish Climbs And Punishment and you’ll immediately want to get on the bike, which is, in the end, the highest praise indeed." Ben East blog

"The most amazing thing about this book is the fact I finished it. I think I did so in the more and more vain hope of finding something about Felix to like." R. Mainwaring (Amazon review)

"I wanted to like this book (I like history, food and cycling), but couldn't get past Felix's egotistical self-satisfaction and his superior attitude to his fellow travellers. At times the self-congratulatory tone is toe-curlingly awful. The writing style is mostly OK, but he's no Ned Boulting." Tommy Tranquillo of 'The Cycling Digest'