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Sticky Bottle - The Cycling Year According to Carlton Kirby



A worthy sequel that will give his fans more of what they like
Entertaining and undemanding easy-reading
Kirby's style doesn't appeal to all

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Carlton Kirby is at it again, bringing us another volume of his memories for our amusement: Sticky Bottle doesn't stray far from the successful formula that he employed to entertain us before. He shows no sign of running out of amusing anecdotes, nor of diminishing his claim to be a 'cycling expert and hilarious raconteur'.

If you're looking for more entertaining reads, check out our guide to 42 of the best cycling books

Just as the use of a sticky bottle and a magic spanner are closely related (and give a similar result) in racing, so Sticky Bottle the book is closely related to Kirby's previous publication, Magic Spanner – and also gives a similar result. Much of what I said last time applies equally here.

Kirby has chosen to structure the book around his perfect year of cycle races – although it is really only a vehicle for him to regale us with stories from his life. He hasn't necessarily commentated at all the events, but he has still got tales to tell. So it is that the Tour de France rubs shoulders with our National hill climb.

There is even an entry for Zwift, from when he was in San Francisco 'to help out with the launch of an amazing global gift to cyclists'. There may not to be much logic to its inclusion, but it doesn't really matter: it simply provides the opportunity for more of Kirby's yarns.

Some of the events no longer take place, such as the Tour VTT, 'Mountain Biking's blue riband event'. That will make it hard to experience all the events for yourself – which is something that Kirby encourages us to do.

As with his previous work, not everyone will like Kirby's style. If you enjoy his commentary then you are likely to enjoy his writing. Whatever your views, it is hard to deny that he seems to have experienced more than his fair share of incidents with comedic value that are worth sharing.

Maybe he goes out of his way to create such opportunities, or maybe there is some dramatic licence – but who cares? It's just entertainment. In his foreword, Sean Kelly even comments that 'you might find yourself detecting just the faintest whiff about them'.

It will help if you have a basic grasp of French, because the odd phrase appears without translation or explanation – especially where Kirby makes use of his own language skills. I found it a bit odd, but 'chacun son goût'.

The few images are rather small (and include a few of Kirby's own, which you are unlikely to see elsewhere); the accompanying text is informative and meaningful.

What will Kirby do for a title if he goes for a third volume? There isn't really a suitable phrase if he wants to continue with the same theme (of outside assistance – aka cheating), so perhaps he will have to invent one...


A worthy sequel that will give his fans more of what they like test report

Make and model: Sticky Bottle The Cycling Year According to Carlton Kirby

Size tested: Hardback

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

From Bloomsbury:

Legendary commentator Carlton Kirby's professional cycling race year takes us from the magnificent Grand Tours and iconic Spring Classics to the sport's more bizarre corners with plenty of his inimitable and irreverent diversions en route.

A true cycling nut would be hard pushed to even name all 36 races on the UCI World Tour, but there is much more to professional racing than national tours and monuments. It's a year-long global schedule venturing as far afield as Burkina Faso and Gabon. So why not take some of these roads less travelled in the company of Carlton Kirby, a real commentary nomad, cycling expert and hilarious raconteur.

Carlton's year follows the cycling seasons through the Spring Classics to the Grand Tours and on to the World Championships and Six Day track racing. In between he's visiting the lesser known, bizarre and challenging races such as Tour de Langkawi, Flanders' Scheldeprijs, The Red Hook Crit in New Jersey and UK's National Hill Climb Championships.

Along the way we hear great cycling stories from the past as well as how he appeared in a blockbuster action movie, bought an octopus in an auction, got lost in a storm on a sacred Catalonian mountain and faced near death in a biscuit factory. And that's just some of the anecdotes that don't involve Sean Kelly.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Title: Sticky Bottle

Author: Carlton Kirby

Publisher: Bloomsbury Sport

Date: 25/5/23

Format: Hardback

Pages: 256

ISBN: 9781472994592

Price: £16.99

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

It's entertaining.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

His style (like his commentary) can be a little 'over the top'.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes – selectively.

Use this box to explain your overall score

As a companion volume to Magic Spanner, Sticky Bottle delivers a similar result; consequently, I have no reason to give this anything but the same rating.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 60  Height:   Weight:

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

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Destroyer666 | 1 year ago

Much of your review might as well be writtten about your own review: I give it 6/10, and no, your style doesn't appeal to me.

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