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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 6 March 2003
The book captures the essence of the cycling experience, with wonderful descrptions of the relationships between riders. More than this, is asks some important questions about the relevance of this very consuming sport when "real life" knocks on the door and asks for a response.
I found myself unable to put the book down during the descriptions of Matt's improving results, and of his wife Ruth's
tolerance of his cycling, as they went through their trials.
The story of the pressure to give up a male obsession in order to satisfy the demands of a relationship with children were familiar territory, but left unexplored due to the tragic changes in the family's circumstances. I was left feeling quite sad and very moved by the account Matt gives.
One can't help but wonder if the cyling bug has really been extinguished in him; the passionate descriptions lead me to belive that he will find it hard to leaves cycling out of his life forever.
One for cylists and the people who tolerate them.
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on 20 October 2006
This book is beautifully written, and so elegantly ans subtely crafted in that it is controlled, measured, eloquent, yet unleashed on occasion when required, precisely reflecting the nature of the sport itself. For anyone that has competed in bike racing, and has given up for other reasons this is a jolting tug on your heartstrings. It's a shame that its not longer, dwelling more on those signpost life moments; but that would be to deny the impact of the book, written to be read as a race; and as such is as pertinent and as moving as any story about bike racing or indeed the vagaries and eccentricities of life itself.

If you buy no other sporting biography this year, then you should grace your bookcase and your mind with this.
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on 20 July 2003
The Escape Artist is by far the best book I’ve ever read about cycling and it tells of Matt Seaton’s life as a cyclist racing for the well known South London club VC De Londres. He used to train on the same roads that I used and it was heart warming reading in my front room in Cornwall about familiar names from my past such as Keston, Westerham, Badgers Mount and Knockholt. Places that I’ve ridden through hundreds of times on training rides. Mr Seaton was a road racer while I chose to do the less taxing discipline of Time Trialling, but I could easily identify with the obsessive nature of what being a racing cyclist is.
The book ends on a sad note with the death of his wife (the journalist Ruth Picardie) and the realisation that theirs more to life than cycling.
But after reading the 'The Escape Artist' Mr Seaton has given me an appetite to start pounding the roads again and I'll dust down my old Look Carbon Fibre racer as soon as the chiropractor's finished with me.
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on 23 September 2002
This is a book that has more to offer than detailed accounts of the author's rides out of London and into the Kent countryside. Seaton also writes about his arrival at a harsher world where cycling no longer seems to offer him the 'escape' or the palliative to the stresses of modern life that the title imbues with such promise. By the end of the book, Seaton becomes an Escape Artist for very different reasons.
Thankfully, what this book has in abundance are some keenly wrought observations on cycle racing and its sub-culture. The sport of cycling deserves and in this book has got some wonderful descriptions of the agony and the ecstasy that cycling brings that I think will appeal to the roadie and non-roadie alike. Seaton's desire to subscribe to a sport as uncompromising as cycling is described with a passion and grittiness that reminded me of the opening of Tim Krabbe's book 'The Rider'whose central character expresses disdain for those who prefer not to subscribe to the (more agony!)of cycle racing.
It is Seaton's determination to succeed and rise to the challenge of cycle racing that provides such a compelling read even if he does dwell a little too long on the matter of leg shaving! But it is also his ability to weave into the narrative the challenges facing him in his personal life that bring a respectful sobriety to the text. This is a book that manages to balance serious life issues with the simple pleasures of bike riding.
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on 30 July 2006
Matt Seaton's book,has for me been a real trip down memory lane,i too used to road race and i felt for him all the way through the book,i know what its like to win and loose,i also know how saddend i was to have to give up the bike.A damn good book,makes you proud to be a cyclist.
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on 9 August 2007
Road cyclists will empathise with the cycling anecdotes; Seaton is spot on with these. I think that's what I enjoyed most and particularly as some of the cycling routes he describes are familiar to me.

I've never actually read a book that I generally found more depressing than uplifting so this for me was a first (or perhaps that simply exposes a lack of extensive reading on my part). The highs and the lows are devoted equal, and indeed fleeting, amounts of time but in general you feel like you're on a gradual descent that delivers you painstakingly to the end of Seaton's cycling career. I think every road cyclist who becomes moderately serious with the sport will feel at one time or another that the rest of life (inevitably) gets in the way of an activity that takes 4 hours out of your day in activity and the rest in recovery. I felt frustrated for Seaton as he desperately tried to hang on to whatever cycling life permitted him. It's fascinating to observe how he deals with this experience and how he reconciles things eventually in his mind.
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on 17 July 2016
A great read. As an, albeit casual, cyclist myself an awful lot in the book resonated beautifully.
As the book and story develops the story opens up and takes you on an emotional journey.
A book that isn't too long it is definitely one to buy!
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on 22 December 2009
I loved the photo of the author sitting, brooding, on the wall. I wanted so much to like him and his story too.... but somehow it never quite happened.

On all the evidence presented here, I'd say Matt Seaton is a nice bloke (and I mean that as a complement). It is impossible not to sympathise with the untimely death of his first wife. It is possible to understand his love of competitive cycling and his reluctance to give it up, and at the same time his guilt at not spending more time with his family.

And I do greatly admire his honesty in telling his story without any embellishments.

For those who don't know - and it is a mainly a male thing - once you have raced against other riders, or even the clock, there is overwhelming desire to do better next time, regardless of how ridiculously slow you went!

Even in the UK, where cycling is still fairly low-key, there is a thriving amateur scene with riders who take it seriously. And this is an excellent introduction to that scene, and in particular the etiquette of of how to behave in a race, the dos and don'ts of helping and not helping other riders.

Of course there is plenty about the usual struggles of a cyclist training in all weathers and at the mercy of motorists. Cycling is a tough sport, but in the UK it is more so!

And perhaps this is what is missing - on the continent cycling is more at home (sadly) and has an edge of glamour, at least the possibility of glamour, which is totally lacking here. It almost makes it pointless - which of course it isn't! Thousand of riders take to the roads every weekend and they must surely get some enjoyment from it - the challenge, the competition, the camaraderie, the exercise, the fresh air if nothing else!

And this is as good a book as you can get to explain the lure of cycling... well almost! That award stays with The Rider, by Tim Krabbe.

This is a good book, I am glad Mr. Seaton wrote it and I'm glad I read it. I hate not giving it five stars - I struggle to explain that to myself and to you. Its just not first over the finish line!
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on 15 April 2008
I read this on an evening business trip to Brussels, tucked away in the dark on a seat on Eurostar. I'm glad I was there because I couldn't help welling up at one stage - a grown bloke reading a cycling book! The opening lines written about a climbing a hill on a cold morning were so aptly described I could feel the morning damp tingling my nostrils. It's no more and no less than Matt's autobiography - his life and the role that cycling plays as he gathers his thoughts and works out his emotions during high times and low. The simple eloquence is a joy though, and is exceptionally enjoyable. Up there with Tim Krabbe's "the Rider" as one of the best pieces of cycling literature ever. Highly recommended.
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on 16 May 2006
As an amateur cyclist, I loved this book - the parts about competitive cycling were like reading about my own racing experiences.

The ending saddened me, as I read about the author falling out of love with the sport, which I have yet to do. However, don't despair, as he's now back in the saddle, riding at a high level again, and recently gave me a kicking at Eastway..... All the best, Matt.
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