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A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium [Kindle Edition]

Parkin Joe
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In 1987, Joe Parkin was an amateur bike racer in California when he ran into Bob Roll, a pro on the powerhouse Team 7-Eleven. "Lobotomy Bob" told Parkin that, to become a pro, he must go to Belgium.

Riding along a canal in Belgium years later, Roll encountered Parkin, who he saw as "a wraith, an avenging angel of misery, a twelve-toothed assassin". Roll barely recognized him. Belgium had forged Parkin into a pro bike racer, and changed him forever.

A Dog in a Hat is Joe's remarkable story. Leaving California with a bag of clothes, two spare wheels, some cash, and a phone number, Parkin left the comforts of home for the windy, rainswept heartland of European cycling. As one of the first American pros in Europe, Parkin was what the Belgians call "a dog with a hat on" -- something familiar, yet decidedly out of place.

Parkin lays out the hard reality of the life--the drugs, the payoffs, the betrayals by teammates, the battles with team owners for contracts and money, the endless promises that keep you going, the agony of racing day after day, and the glory of a good day in the saddle.

A Dog in a Hat is the unforgettable story of the un-ordinary education of Joe Parkin and his love affair with racing, set in the hardest place in the world to be a bike racer. It is a story untold until now, and one that you will never forget.


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Review

""A Dog in a Hat" is the most authentic book ever written on making a living as a pro cyclist in Europe." Bob Roll, Versus Tour de France cycling commentator Is "A Dog in a Hat" the best book we've ever read about bike racing? Undeniably yes. The essential truths you'll learn about Belgian bike racing are timeless. And the self-effacing (and often hilarious) way Joe narrates the absurdity of these traditions will make you laugh out loud. Of everything written about bike racing throughout the history of mankind, Chapter 3, "Kermis Don't Play Fair," is the most important 20 pages ever penned. No one should be permitted to own a USA Cycling license without being able to recite this chapter from heart. You'll be fascinated by Joe s humility, his determination, and by the warped way domestiques set their goals and weigh success. CompetitiveCyclist.com ""A Dog in a Hat" is a page turner. Anyone who has raced in Europe or who wonders what it's like to jump the ocean on your own should pick up this book. Joe captures the struggle and the intensity to succeed, and the fact that he did it on his own is all the more impressive. Cycling in Europe is tough; doing it Joe's way is even tougher!" Frankie Andreu Parkin s commentary is riveting, offering an insider look into the sport that few get to see, let alone experience. Mountain Bike magazine "I loved "A Dog in a Hat." Joe's stories bring back many memories of racing in Belgium, where I learned how to fight for position in the echelon, to suffer in the gutter while jumping curbs and dodging potholes, and to pound out my guts when it really mattered. Belgium is a hard place to learn bicycle racing and Joe's story proves how tough he was." Ron Kiefel "This plain, self-deprecating memoir has the ring of authenticity at the other end of the sport where even today not all the riders are being paid, the hotels are still bad, and the races are just as hard." TinDonkey.com "Joe Parkin is a beautiful piece of work, and he turns out to be a better writer than I am a bike racer." Bill Strickland, "Bicycling "magazine [Readers] have a seat in the middle of the peloton as we see what Joe sees, breathe what he smells, watch as his peers juice up and we struggle with him as he strives to get out in front of it all. Parkin s words weave a colorful tapestry about living life on the bicycle racing circuit in Europe. Yet that tapestry is soiled and tattered because of the true cutthroat nature of bicycle racing and the absolute grit in the stories Joe relives for us. Dirt Rag magazine "Sordid, funny, and engrossing." Bike Snob NYC "Joe tells his story straight. It's not pretty, but it's not bitter." BikeRadar.com "Impossible to put down." "Mountain Bike Action" magazine "Parkin went native in an era when Americans were still exotic creatures, and not in a good way. This unglamorized insider's view is what makes "A Dog in a Hat" well worth reading. Parkin shows you life on the edge of the peloton. We know the great champions' stories, but Parkin's experience is far more illustrative of what a "pro cyclist" really is." PodiumCafe.com "A slice of literary badassness. I've had a lifelong struggle maintaining an attention span for reading books, but this is a page turner that's been hard for me to put down. "A Dog in a Hat" is truly captivating." HowtoAvoidtheBummerLife.com Joe Parkin s heart was in racing on the road in Belgium and it is eloquently stated in his book. You should read "A Dog in a Hat" if you looking for a few small glimpses of the life experiences of a guy that lived the hard life. Steve Tilford, former professional cyclist An honest, well-written insight into what it s like to move to Europe and try to make it as a pro racer. A Dog in a Hat is funny, touching, brave, and honest in its look at the complicated world of the European pro cycling scene. The Independent "Parkin has written an eloquent and historic volume. In the very uniqueness of his story, Parkin realizes a universality that gives his recollections a resonance with any cyclist. Do not miss this book." BelgiumKneeWarmers.com ""A Dog in a Hat" reads like Joe Parkin was just telling you these epic stories on a ride, up a climb, or at a coffee shop. That's the beauty of this book. It's not a hero's journey, but instead a racer's tale." BikeHugger.com "There's something very approachable about the underdog, the guy who works as hard as anyone, but never achieves the stardom we all chase. I peeled through A Dog in a Hat in a few nights, always wanting to know what was coming next. Joe's candor is refreshing to read and entertaining as hell." PezCyclingNews.com "Written as if you were riding alongside him, Parkin's "A Dog in a Hat" is a quick, highly addictive read. You can feel the cobbles under the pen." Cog Magazine ""A Dog in a Hat" reads like a novel and serves up an inspiring, compelling and captivating racer's tale." The Oregonian "I loved "A Dog in a Hat." Once in, I couldn't put it down. The book rings of truth, youth, and passion." Andreas Hestler ""A Dog in a Hat "is not the idealised notion most of us have of the life of a professional cyclist, but it's all the more gutsy and enjoyable for its self-effacing honesty. I could read it all over again right now." TheWashingMachinePost.net "In his new book, "A Dog in a Hat," Joe Parkin gives us a window into the life of someone who was born to be a professional bike racer. It s not pretty, it s not glamorous, some of it is a bit of inside baseball, but it s a great read. I picked up a copy at Interbike, brought it home and read the 232 pages over the course of two evenings. I literally could not put it down." Smithers Minneapolis "The April 17, 2000 issue of "VeloNews" closed with a typically fervent Bob Roll screed entitled 51 Things To Do Before You Die." "#36. Learn from Joe Parkin's life story." Parkin s prose fills in all the cracks. Quite simply, the man is tough as nails and chose the absolute hardest way to break into European professional cycling: just showing up in Ghent with a bike, a duffel bag of clothes, three months worth of cash, and a phone number to call scrawled on a scrap of paper. You can truly appreciate Parkin's re-living of the squalid truth of late 80s Euro pro cycling." BobkeStrut.com "It's a wild, gritty, page-turning ride: Grab the book, rub some embrocation into your quads and calves, and settle into your couch for a great read as you plot your own future bike exploits." Cyclo-club.com Joe Parkin did what few other Americans dared do "A Dog in a Hat" fills a void in cycling literature. Since so few Americans have accomplished what Joe Parkin has, his book stands on its own as an original account of European bike racing, presented from a racing cyclist s perspective. USCyclingReport.com "A Dog in a Hat" is a fast-paced, revealing read, and any cyclist who enjoys racing will be equally inspired and shocked at some of the stuff that goes on inside the peloton. It's a rare glimpse into a world often concealed, and Parkin s struggle to gain acceptance makes the book a truly inspiring read. RoadCyclingUK.com "

About the Author

Joe Parkin was an amateur bike racer in California when he met Bob Roll (Bobke II), who advised him to move to Belgium to further his cycling career. He represented the United States at the World Professional Cycling Championships and the World Cyclocross Championships. Following his road racing years in Belgium, he returned to the United States and began a successful second career as a pro mountain bike racer. He currently resides in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2019 KB
  • Print Length: 205 pages
  • Publisher: VeloPress (1 Feb. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937716023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937716028
  • ASIN: B007JIIL0M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #49,358 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and sobering... 24 Sept. 2008
Format:Paperback
Being a Flemish cycling enthousiast(after all, our love for cycling is a genetic feature of most Flemings...) I was really curious to read the story of this "Yankee at the World Centre of Cycling". I must say I was positively surprised by his no-nonsens approach, with easy to read, well written chapters and a nice set of glossy colour pictures. The odd Flemish expressions and curses thrown in, add a nice local flavour to the stories and enhance their credibility. Joe is very straightforward, outspoken and - I want to believe - honest in his analysis of the tough small inner circle of life on the racebike in Europe, especially Flanders, where he came to look for a career in professional cycling. The backroom politics, backbiting amongst riders donning the same jersey, the relation with the directeurs sportifs, the way races are "pre-arranged", all confirm the fact that the only message for naive newcomers is to accept the unwritten rules of the peleton or get destroyed... Joe doesn't dodge the tricky issue of organized doping either, which shows how doping had become generally accepted in cycling and inherited by one generation of riders to the next one. The book is a real page turner and reads like a 53 X 11 gear during a descent. Most recommended to anyone interested in sports in general and cycling in particular.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dog in a Hat 29 Nov. 2008
Format:Paperback
This memoir would not have been published a decade ago. Then, cycling books were idealized, all sunflowers, suntans and white teeth. If the Festina Affair was some kind of milestone, more recent events have stripped the veneer from pro cycling to expose a drug-fuelled sham. Its aspiring saviours face a huge challenge.

Joe Parkin wanted to be the best. Arriving from the USA as an innocent, he witnessed in Belgium the darker side of cycling at his first pro event with riders openly injecting themselves as part of pre-race preparation.

Parkin was a nearly man. Fate, or ability that fell short, kept him from the big win that would make his name. But he kept trying, absorbing Flemish culture and speaking the language. He was accepted.

Kermis - or kermesse - racing is the staple diet of Belgian cycling. Jim Ochowicz told Parkin that kermis riders were 'a dime a dozen' and that he should have ambition for the big races. Parkin himself found his dressing room peers generally dim. However, he was a man trying to do a superman's job. It wasn't long before dope claimed him, too.

The drudgery, race-fixing and duplicity of riders, managers and sponsors -and not merely in the second stream - comes through Parkin's words. There's not much glamour for the journeyman professional. He stayed just a few years in Belgium and then did not return. Who could blame him?
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a cat on a hot tin roof 9 Nov. 2008
Format:Paperback
I bought this book after reading a review in procycling magazine.I wasn't dissapointed.Its a great read,well written and an honest and open account into pro cycling.I couldn't put it down.Its worth putting on your wish list or getting it for a xmas present.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dog in a hat 12 Mar. 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had taken the opportunity to read a chapter of this book that I had downloaded earlier from the internet and the complete book did not disappoint.
I am a pretty committed cyclist and sports fan and as such, much of the material was familiar to me.
I am not sure how a non-cycling fan would view the book, but what struck me about Joe's story is the courage and sacrifice it took for him to go to another continent and absorb himself in the culture of what in my opinion is one of the hardest (yet most beautiful) of sports.
I particularly enjoyed the explanations about the Flemmish language and community.
In my experience, a lot of sports books, especially those about cycling that are written with the American market in mind, tend to spend a lot of time explaining fairly basic background and that can get in the way of what I consider to be the really interesting material. Joe's book does not do that.
I am not sure what the Flemish equivalent of "Chapeau"! is, but "hat's off" to the author for producing a very readable and real story which I would certainly recommend to any follower of not just cycling, but sport in general.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top read 8 Feb. 2009
Format:Paperback
This book is a very easy read and a real 'page flicker'. The dream that all wannabe racers have as young guns should read this to appreciate the dedication and skullduggery that the real world of bike racing is all about.
It is written from the heart and explains all about the sacrifices you have to make and the disappointment that goes with being a team player and working for others when you feel you could win but team orders dissallow this. The book will make you laugh out loud sometimes (read about the time trial when he goes flat out and rides his all time best but loses. He soon finds out why!)

Anyway....buy it,read it and enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real face of professional cycling 1 Jan. 2010
Format:Paperback
I had read nothing but good reviews of this book and it didn't disappoint. Joe Parkin paints a very vivid and honest picture of racing within the Belgium pro scene in the early nineties. It is a warts and all account that is difficult to put down, a must read for cycling fans.
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