on 8 July 2013
What a find! As a cycling fan and cyclist since early teenage in the 80s this was perfect in covering the events and characters of my memories whilst still giving a nod to the cycling gods of earlier eras. How the book is structured takes a little getting used to, presented as almost a scrapbook of William's favourite reports / articles however once into the flow it works well, added to by his comments either introducing each of making a point with retrospective knowledge at the end.
From covering the evils of doping to giving an excellent insight into Team Sky and British Cycling this book has been an education, a trip down memory lane and a reminder of how special this sport is - especially as a British cyclist in these golden times.
Definite 5 stars!
William Fotheringham has always struck me (in the Guardian) as occupying a rather cool position (unenthusiastic even?) with regards to cycling. Reading this book I've had to reformulate that opinion and have grown to love his style. He writes fantastically well, though always maintaining that certain distance from his subject. He prefaces this volume of collected journalistic pieces from over his whole career by explaining that he has always seen the role of the writer to be 'discreet, almost invisible where possible'. And at the same time, he has felt compelled to comment on the articles he has included, especially those which chart the stellar career of Lance Armstrong, even interrupting his former self at one point to explain why he hadn't made more of Armstrong's first infringement, the 'saddle sore' steroid finding of 1999.
I found completely compelling this combination of his desire to step back and observe, with our new-found knowledge of what was 'really' going on. It's particularly enjoyable because Fotheringham switches from including 'local colour' pieces, describing merguez sausage roadside barbecues, etc, to Tour De France diaries of each day's events, to proper large review articles taking overviews of the race as a whole. He captures the flavour of the race, and has a special ear for the telling detail, whether arguments within camps, horrific crashes, transport logistics or salary cuts; he manages to weave all of these in wonderfully.
And this is just the first half of the book! It is however what interested me the most, so I am focusing on it. The second half of the book is devoted to Olympic cycling, which has less interest for me, but those who light up for Hoy, Pendleton, Wiggins (in track mode), Kenny, Queally etc will enjoy it immensely, and there's quite a lot on Dave Brailsford, Sutton etc to satisfy the ardent TDF fan.... Plus there's a final section with a few poignant obituaries, including Fignon, Pantani and the wonderful Beryl Burton, to round the volume off. From now on, i will always be thinking of this author affectionately, as David Millar suggests in his introduction, as 'FOTHERING-HAMMMM!"
PS One correction that definitely needs making by now, though, is on p. 93, when supporters of Rumsas, the cyclist whose wife was stopped with TONS of drugs in her car, demonstrated in the 'Lithuanian capital, Riga'. Ahem.
on 29 July 2013
A good summary-type read of some of the best articles written by Will Fotheringham on al matters cycling.
The only reason I didn't give the book 5 stars was because, as a Guardian reader for many years, I had read most, if not all of these articles in the newspaper, when they were first published.
Never the less, I recommend this book highly!
on 30 May 2014
Been following cycling for many years and it was great to read this, bring back some memories as well as see some clues as to what might be going on in the background, both with Armstrong and British Cycling, for example.