Cycling is a slightly bizarre sport I guess, and this is a wonderfully funny and frank account of the extraordinary bike race that is the Tour de France.
Ned takes us from his first painful experiences as a bumbling, novice cycling reporter, through his love affair with the event, confronting the major issues on the way; drug scandals, Armstrong, finding launderettes on rest days, and just what the conversational etiquette should be when urinating in the open air.
This book is hugely accessible, the sport's serious and sometimes murky side is confronted properly, but before too long the narrative gently carries us off to slightly lighter concerns, like trying to pack a hot iron. Ned encounters the big names of the sport, and gives us the insiders view. We see his development alongside theirs, as well as meeting some of the more fascinating characters who keep the race ticking along, like Rudi the toilette tsar.
I really enjoyed this book from start to finish, the sort of book you don't want to rush, but that you read in the garden with a huge grin on your face. When I reached the end, not only was I laughing quite loudly in embarrassing fashion, but I also felt quite sad that Ned Boulting's insider account of eight years on tour was over. Superb.