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Born to Ride: The Autobiography of Stephen Roche Hardcover – 7 Jun 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey; First Edition edition (7 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224091905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224091909
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 174,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"One of the most riveting sporting biographies I've read for ages" (Herald)

"While most people focus on his famous year in 1987, it's often forgotten just how precocious a cyclist Roche was early on in his career…an entertaining read" (John Whitney Bike Radar)

"Fascinating…a compelling read" (Cycling Shorts)

"The intimacy and tone of a fireside chat – possibly lubricated with a generous nightcap" (Daniel Friebe Outdoor Fitness)

"Highly recommended" (Cycling World)

Book Description

The first full autobiography of Irish cycling legend Stephen Roche, who in 1987 defied all odds to win cycling's 'triple crown'

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Yorkie on 24 Jun. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The highlight of Roche's autobiography unsurprisingly lies in the highlight of his career - 1987 when he won touched greatness and joined Eddy Merckx as the only winners of cycling's Triple Crown (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and World Championship Road Race). Sensibly the book grabs your attention by beginning at the heart of the action in 1987. It then switches back to Roche's early life and progresses chronologically to today.

His account of 1987 is particularly detailed and insightful. The book also provides a glimpse at events surrounding his career generally and developments since his retirement. Particularly emotional and striking is his young son's battle against Leukemia.

In this reviewer's opinion, however, in contrast to his career, Roche's autobiography fails to touch greatness in a number of respects.

Firstly, to my surprise (as someone who found Stephen particularly engaging on his TV screen back in the 1980s and early 1990s), Roche doesn't come across as the most sympathetic of characters. He is, by his own admission, opinionated and assertive in his views - perhaps too much so at times. His treatment of a lot of events also comes across as somewhat superficial - to my surprise I found myself warming much more to Bjarne Riis when I read his own recent autobiography.

Also by his own admission, Roche is very hard on his son, the cyclist, Nicholas. He wastes no time in criticising his son's approach to cycling and castigating him for not adopting his views on cycling. To me this was somewhat troubling in light of the next point.

Whilst Roche does discuss doping in his book, the treatment came across to me as somewhat superficial.
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Format: Paperback
With all the revelations about the systemised doping culture surrounding Lance Armstrong's team in the 1990s, it was interesting to read a story of a time before cycling was embroiled in one drugs scandal after another. Although perhaps not as memorable as Armstrong's career, Stephen Roche's will hold a place in cycling history for 1987, when he became only the second man to win the Tour de France, the Giro D'Italia and the World Championships in the same season. A quarter of a century after that remarkable feat, Roche has produced his autobiography, ''Born to Ride''.

The title seems apt, as it appears that Stephen Roche was destined for a life on two wheels from quite early on in his life. His father cycled and a neighbour spotted Stephen on his bike while he was a teenager and dragged him away from football in the park to try racing and Roche's course was set. From here on in, the book is a personal view of his career, with brief glimpses of his personal life and a little at the end about his life after cycling.

Recently, I described the writing style in Leo McKinstry's "Jack Hobbs: England's Greatest Cricketer" as perfectly fitting for the man and the actions it described. ''Born to Ride'' is exactly the same, in that the almost breathless and fast moving narrative when describing Roche's racing career fits the speed and demands of the sport perfectly. Cycling is a sport where a lot of activity takes place on consecutive days and Roche describes an awful lot of those days in the saddle, especially when he's competing in the major cycling events.

This does give the book a slightly one dimensional feel, as with Roche's life being entirely devoted to his sport, there is little time for anything else.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By franny on 1 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought this book by Stephen Roche was okay but found it very slow to get going and I was fairly glad when I had finished it. Like most cyclists' biographies and autobiographies it is really just a recollection of all the races they took part in, pedal by pedal and that can become a little tedious. The glimpses of his family life were just that glimpses and I feel it would have been a more interesting story if there had been more personal/family content, but that's not what he intended obviously. You have to be a really dedicated cyclist or cycling fan to fully appreciate this book but having said that good on him for having written it himself.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By moosemac on 8 Jun. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever dreamt about sitting down with a relaxing glass of wine and spending an evening just chatting cycling with a former World Champion? What if you could spend time with a Triple Crown winner? Well, that's how reading the new book by Stephen Roche `Born to Ride' felt to me. It gave me the distinct impression that I was having an intimate conversation with one of the all-time greats in the world of cycling.

The stories and the thoughts behind the action in the book are fascinating. Stephen's personal views of the nature and culture of cycling in the 1980s-the teams, the Directors Sportif, the teammates and the rivals are the needed details. They fill in gaps in the urban legends and the well-documented stories that have become the lore of cycling. To be allowed into the depths of that world, just a bit, is a compelling read and well worth the price of admission.

Setting the stage with the details and drama of the World Championships of 1987, Stephen Roche narrates the tale of that fateful day, bone-numbingly wet, riding the circuit course at Villach, Austria. "During these early laps I am just staying in the wheels, sheltering from the wind behind other riders, freewheeling almost. That's obviously an exaggeration, but that's how easy I want it to feel, so that I can save everything I can for the end." The winning strategy, the gear choices, the details of the day are the simple things, like putting on three rain jackets layered upon each other, that make for a build up that seems so very personal and intriguing. It also makes a fascinating read for fans of cycling and of sports psychology.
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