I like cycling, or to be more specific I like watching cycling; after a nasty accident being on a bicycle scares me! I love watching the Tour de France and the Vuelta so I was pleased to receive Geraint Thomas’ book for Christmas so I could find out more.
This is the first cycling book I’ve read from the perspective of a professional cyclist and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
What I got was a fun and interesting dip-in-and-out of book. It’s the kind of book you pick up when you have a spare 5 minutes rather than a book you settle down to read in an afternoon.
Geraint is part of the elite of British cycling and knows the set up and other riders well so you get a good insight into the amount of hard work they put into achieving the seemingly effortless victories both on the track and on the road. I particularly liked the insight into how supportive they are of each other and the fact that, in a race like the Tour, victory for the leader is regarded as a victory for all. Nice to know that the essential support isn’t taken for granted.
I also liked finding out more about the back room staff who keep a cycle team racing; mechanics, nutritionists , soigneurs, directeur sportifs etc. I heard the terms bandied around on TV and in David Walsh’s newspaper articles and book without completely understanding what some of them do.
It was interesting to find out about the training regimes; to me it sounds like you’re either killing yourself with effort or lying/sitting recovering doing as little as possible. It seems like a weird way to live to a non-sporting person. It also come across as a lonely life for the partners of elite cyclists, and I suspect any other elite sportsperson; your other half is living a fairly selfish life with everything geared towards their goals and dreams whilst you have to fit in and around them. It must be difficult and I take my hat off to the people who do it. I think I would want to scream “What about me? What about doing some of the things I want to do? When are you going to put me first for once?”
There are some laugh out loud moments in the book so it probably isn’t a good idea to read it when your other half is trying to watch something on TV – he got a bit grumpy after a while – or when you’re out in public. I would definitely recommend it as a good read.
Other good cycling books I’d recommend are Ned Boulting’s How I won The Yellow Jumper and 101 Damnations, both about the Tour de France. Also, if you want an amateurs viewpoint about long cycle rides Tim Moore’s French Revolutions and Gironimo, both laugh out loud funny.