Cycling Reads

I've just got back from a week break at Centre Parcs Whinfell Forest with Becky. It is our second visit and if you are looking for a safe UK break (especially if you have little ones) then I would definitely recommend it. You can read my review from last time here. Holiday time means reading time for me and I managed to read a couple of books while I was away.

Bradley Wiggins: On Tour

"On Tour" follows Wiggins through the 2010 Tour de France. It is a nice read. Bradley is a great writer: writing straight from the heart. Wiggins is open and honest to what turned out to be a pretty miserable 2010 Tour with Team Sky. At a 190 pages you'll get through it easily within the day too. It's an intriguing page turner and a managable, modern day insight into The Tour. The book is beautifully illustrated with black and white photography from Scott Mitchell which really adds to the read. If you have read Michael Barry's "Le Metier" you'll be along the right lines here (which I would recommend but having read "On Tour" I would choose that over "Le Metier").

On the subject of Bradley Wiggins, I would also recommend his autobiography "In Pursuit Of Glory" in which he documents his rise from youth to Professional to Olympics. It is a great read, well written, full of personality and you really get on side with him: which is half the battle of reading an autobiography. I would throughly recommend it together with Mark Cavendish's "Boy Racer" autobiography which is a punchy, rollercoaster of a read in typical Cavendish style. "Boy Racer" is full of great stories, especially of the British Cycling Academy System. Recommended!

Paul Kimmage: Rough Ride

A lot has been said about "Rough Ride" and I felt I had to read it to know what all the fuss was about! The book is basically an autobiography of Irish rider Paul Kimmage, who was a domestique during the late 80s and follows his journey from junior to professional. To put it into context, Kimmage, at the time, competed alongside fellow Irish riders Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche. Kimmage I believe lost a lot of respect, and a childhood friend through Roche, by speaking out and breaking the law of silence in the peloton.

The controversial aspect to "Rough Ride" is Kimmage speaking out about drug use in cycling. He is incredibly open on the use of both hormones and amphetamines. As he competes through the Grand Tours he finds that the only way many riders survive is not to sleep, massage and take vitamins but to dope.

Although Kimmage only doped a few times in his whole career it is a remarkable insight into doping, and the surprising acceptance within the peloton during the 1980s.

But lets get one thing straight. This book isn't just about doping. It is an incredibly honest insight to the life of a domestique. As such it is a hard read. I found myself deep in dispair at points at the struggle, the pain and torment that Kimmage went through. This isn't a story about successful, almost untouchable riders like Roche, Kelly, Wiggins, Simpson and Merckx. This is a story about a good cyclist hanging in there doing his job.

At times you wonder if Kimmage ever enjoyed riding his bike. I found myself getting angry. You loose count at the number of times he "nearly" wins stages, where he abandons or is off the back in agony. It is a brutal read at times.

Roche reacted angrily at "Rough Times". I'm surprised because Kimmage speaks nothing but of admiration about Roche. He never at any point suggests that either Roche or Kelly doped either. It is only a couple of team-mates that are named within the prose. I could understand Roche being angry as he is wrapped inside a book exposing doping yet he should see past that.

As tough a read as it can be in places: if you are a cyclist you must read "Rough Ride".

1 comment:

Photoshoot Makeover said...

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