Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How I Met Mark Cavendish

So I have been VERY EXCITED for the Tour. 

Like this excited.

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It’s almost like a religious pilgrimage, except it just involves me watching the Tour de France every day – mostly the LIVE coverage and then of course, the fully re-commentated coverage later in the day.  This is a 2-5 hour commitment for 23 days – rest days are just light watchings, but like the riders, you can’t just sit around doing nothing all day. 

So as a prelude I bought about 11 books about some kind of bike racing.  I got yet another book about Lance which was ok – they’re all professionally written by someone else and offer something but you are left with not much more of an understanding of the guy – like the juicy stuff.  Like when they finally figure out in 2026 how he doped or whatever he did and by then who cares and he’ll be sued 300x and he’ll be putting his 4 kids from a handful of women through school and he won’t care – but it will make for a good book. 

Then I got some books by Joe Parkin, an ex-pro who was jr varsity in the Euro peleton, but he was THERE and did it himself and had an interesting take on bike racing, drugs and of course the kermis.  Well done and fun reads but I sort of got annoyed by how many races he pulled out of – and I never got the sense he loved racing his bike as much as I would have expected him to. 

I mean, does he make his kids watch the tour with him for 21 days (they actually get the rest days off) today? 

Does his wife get up early to watch live coverage on the weekends? 

Probably not. 

And yes, I’m equating me watching TV with Greta and the girls for 23 days each year with him riding a bike for 6 years. 

Definitely a good story teller and both his books are worth reading and owning.  Some passages are magical – as if he wrote them as he rode at times – not missing a second of detail, sometimes you can feel the cobbles as you read (it helps if you do this on a turbulent plane ride across the United States). 

But I wanted more….

So I got Bradley Wiggins book which was solid.  He’s obviously British and it comes through on nearly every page when you see phases that you have to guess at their meaning but still sometimes I’m still left guessing.  Since his whole world and most of British cycling has been about the track since Tom Simpson wanted back on bike, it’s a lot about the Olympics and his perspective.  There’s some stuff about his road career, but not a ton – still, a really good read and you can’t help but want to watch some track racing with a renewed interest….  I still don’t understand his haircut but I’m a fan of the guy.  I also think the Team Sky kits are horrible ugly, I liked the Carrera Jeans team fake denim spandex better. 

THEN I got Mark Cavendish’s book, ‘Boy Racer’.  Wow.

I think I read it as fast he finishes the final 200m of every flat stage.  My wife will tell you that to make good movies and books last, I’m always stopping a lot.  Making a good movie take 3-4 days to watch and a good book like this – I have to try and dish out my efforts over a week or so.  She also gets super annoyed by this because to ensure I get a solid stop, I put the book down or the movie down and talk or distract her from whatever I’m doing so I’m not sad about having to put it down.  This more often than not involves a major karate chop to her mid-section or leg or arm along with the always necessary full scream ‘HIIIIIIII-YAAAAAAAAAAH’.  Good times for her. 

Sorry, I got lost there and all excited. 

So the book is awesome.  Like Ayn Rand ‘The Fountainhead’ awesome. 

I would normally go ‘yay, Mark Cavendish won again’ when I watch him win – mostly ho hum who cares, it’s not Tyler Farrar who would ride past me at every race in Seattle like I was on a stationary bike, and he was like 13.  This book takes you through his short but exciting career from his jr racing to the end of the 2009 season – with detail of every meter of a Tour de France sprint finale to enduring a long day with the laughing group.  It’s not written with a professional writer who carefully crafts every interview into well structured thought out book – it’s written by the rider himself – complete with his language (and if you chose to read this to your children, prepare for them to learn plenty of ways to use the f-word).  It’s quite raw with a lot of emotion and care. 

If you don’t like this book, you’re simply retarded. 

He’s nothing quite like you see on TV much and how he seems to be portrayed on cycling sites – some of it’s true but honestly I’d rather spend a day riding with him over anyone else in the peleton after reading this. 

I can’t think of a better time to read his book than right now.  I only wish I could get a refund for my Floyd Landis book and spend it on another copy of Boy Racer to give away.

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3 comments:

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Methinks I need to read this book!

Kelly said...

I actually met mark cavendish. and everyone else was crowding around hincapie, so i talked to cavendish for a little while and got his autograph.

-- TB said...

Loren! This comment is totally unrelated to the post - just thought this would be a good place to reach you.

Regarding my son swimming - well he loves the pool. Running? It's getting him NOT to run that's the trick. We'll see in a couple years how the bike works out. I'll tell him of the legend of the "Swim Bike Run guy" to stoke his fire...

We're doing great and hope you are too. Enjoy the tour!!