"Racing Tactics" is not a casual read. What it is, is a very strong, detailed explanation of how to succeed on the bike racing circuit! It does not deal with the topics of physical training and body conditioning. What it does cover are the topics of strategy and mental conditioning, how to use the field of cyclists to assist you in moving forward and capitalizing upon the moves made by your fellow racers. It teaches you how to turn their errors and their successes into energy saving and position enhancing moves for you as the solo rider, or as a member of a team.
Although this book is written for the bike racing competitor, the understanding it delivers regarding the physics of bicycle peletons, breakaways and pacelines, proves valuable to the long distance rider, and group club rider as well. Many of the techniques "Racing Tactics" illustrates and explains should be strictly reserved for the race circuit and could be dangerous if executed in a more casual environment. Many of them totally depend upon the reliable prediction of how a fellow rider will react to certain sets of conditions. These reactions are predictable only in the professional racing environment and can not be relied upon elsewhere.
But, the principles and some of the techniques discussed in the book are still directly applicable to a fast ride with a few saddle savy friends. So it is a great read for the serious cyclist. Whether they race or not!
Liberally illustrated, Prehn makes his descriptions clear, and his illustrations even clearer. The text of the book is written in bike racing jargon and it can be less than clear if you are not familiar with the terms. I was not! However after reading a few descriptions of maneuvers and and matching them up with their accompanying illustrations, the jargon begins to reveal itself and the reading goes much easier. I am certain that for the racing enthusiast this would pose absolutely no problem and that it is my own ignorance getting in the way here. Again, as I said the jargon becomes very clear after a single illustration or two!
Prehn not only discusses the varying approaches and mindsets necessary for the varied styles of racing, but he also covers why they are different. What makes the Criterium, and the Stage race, different and when to sprint and when to "sit on" are all explained in detail along with loads of other fascinating techniques and strategies as well. There is an entire chapter relating to the mindset of winning, just as there is a chapter dedicated to "The Art of Being Uncooperative."
If you have ever wondered about what fascinates folks about Bicycle racing, this book goes a long way to revealing the incredible complexities being played out beneath the surface of those guys in funny clothes going round and round chasing each other.
I have never been a bike race fan, but I must admit now that I will watch the next one I that comes along because at this point I have a better idea of what is going on!
If you have ever wondered, or if you think you already know what makes a bike race, I recommend "Racing Tactics for Cyclists."