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Random House UK Rough Ride: Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist
by Paul Kimmage
The first major “tell-all” cycling book was Rough Ride by Paul Kimmage that came out in 1990. Irish cyclist Paul Kimamge was a professional cyclist for 4 years in the late 80’s. In the 80’s Irish cyclist Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche were the top stars, but Kimmage never reached such heights. He was one of the many cyclists that was a top amateur, but just hung on in the professional ranks and Rough Ride is his story.
Kimmage is now a journalist and is a solid writer so Rough Ride is a good read. It got a bad rap when it came out as a tell-all book, and if it is read that way then it is not very good. Kimmage tries to make it very clear several times that this book is his story and not the story of other riders. He tells about the late Thierry Claveyrolat helping him deal with taking amphetamines for the first time, and so Claveyrolat is one of the few names given. Kimmage really tries to make it clear that he did not want to be talking about other riders, but show the culture in the peloton. It is the story of lesser riders that struggle to win the finish the race and not about the stars that are competing for the win.
He gives daily reports of his rides in the ’86 and ’87 Tour, ’89 Giro, and ‘89 Tour that he would stop halfway through and never race again. These are a great insight into the other end of the pack of riders just trying to finish the race. When Kimmage talks about drugs it is not to win a race, but just to finish. The book is not about drugs it is more about how a rider who was a top amateur deals with not being good enough to become a top professional, and drugs is just part of that story.
This edition includes a section called “The Soup Turns to Blood” and about the rise of EPO and its influence that happened after Kimmage stopped racing. This is a little more revealing and makes some stronger accusations.
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