Mark Cavendish is the fastest man on two wheels. Born in the Isle of Man in 1985 he discovered as a teenager that although he was a slightly tubby lad with rather short legs and a passion for junk food he had a love of cycling and an amazing passion for winning. This autobiography gives a little background into his younger days. He then rapidly moves the story through his teenage championships to reach the British academy and then finally his move into Prefessional racing.
Mark is a man who always appears to wear his heart on his sleeve and he tends to be very emotional. The Manxman admits that he can be volatile and outspoken but also points out that he is a comparatively young rider to be in the spotlight and he is obviously maturing and behaving in a more appropriate way now. Throughout this book Cavendish talks about his various teammates as well as many riders who are on other teams but whom he has had regular contact. I found this interesting as it was nice to find out what an "insider" had to say about names that I held in high regard or who I particularly disliked in the cycling world. However I must say that I thought his book showed great discretion and often when he mentioned incidents with particular people he would often mention his own inappropriate behaviour with regard to the same incident.
The layout of the book is rather confusing. The introduction gives a brief overview of some races and his interactions with certain characters. Each chapter is then headed as a Stage of the 2008 Tour De France. The chapter then incorporates the details of that days stage; this may be a few lines if it was a mediocre stage to a blow by blow account of most of the race if there were things of significance to Cavendish or his team. As would be expected he was often full of praise for his teammates. Alongside these accounts in each chapter he has also written the story of his cycling career so far. I found this tricky to follow at first. Once I got used to the style it became easier to negotiate the writing and I could follow it a little better. Like many autobiographies this one contains the obligatory photograph sections. I always enjoy these parts, particularly in a book like this when it is possible to see the amazing change from a cute baby to a 14 year old national Champion through to an insecure tubby professional in his debut photograph to the lean speed machine who cruised comfortably to victory on the Champs-Elysees in the final stage of the 2009 Tour De France.
After finishing his book I am still very much a fan of this boy wonder. I found his accounts very honest and it is a wise person who can see his own faults. He states categorically that he is not the most gifted person who has ever climbed onto a bike. However what really drives him is a true passion for winning, he thinks that it is this passion that makes the difference between him and many of the talented riders out there. This is not a book that is going to be enjoyed by anyone who doesn't have even a passing interest in cycle racing. There is a lot of detail and the mention of a lot of people who are well-known in the cycling world but who are pretty much unknown outside of it. However I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I came to the conclusion that Mark Cavendish is a likeable young man who can be rather outspoken but who has deep respect and regard for his friends and colleagues and the sort of love of racing that was a delight to read about.