I get 'cross

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By  CJ Boom     12:18     

I remember when Le Métier was first released and I casually flicked the pages and said to myself, I should really get this. Skip forward about three seasons and finally, I have a copy to call my own, I got it around the time of the CX season and have only now managed to get through to the end.
It's not a tough read, in fact I loved it and it drew me in instantly. Charting the four seasons of Michael Barry, I first opened the book when I was in my winter season so his descriptive prose about winter almost motivated me to get out on my bicycle and brave the cool winds.

The for whatever reason it sat on my bookshelf and I picked it up again when the Pro Tour was deep into the cobbled classics week and it was perfect reading. Le Métier then got put away again as I got tangled reading 'The Night Circus' (an incredibly beautifully written book, but lacking a good plot!)

Finally I reached for it during the two May bank holidays and it was perfect supplementary reading to the Giro.
My favorite sections are winter and summer. The spring chapter sees Barry fix on a rather sad time caused by a chain of unfortunate events, the chapter is very well written but it brings the reality of bike racing and that isn't as much fun as reading about someone's elation at riding their bike like in the other chapters.

I'm about three years too late to this read, but like many things you'll kick yourself for not grabbing a copy sooner. I remember at the time of its release the images by Camille J McMillan were a revelation, I'd never really seen such a vast collection of images taken of the pro peloton in that manner. It's still great to gaze over even now.

 This book got banished to the bottom of my handbag and for months it was just something I was carry around, serving only as additional weight to improve my left shoulder's strength.
I got it because John Herety said its the book that Ed Clancy goes to to control his motivation and help him win. In fact 'the Chimp Paradox' is apparently the go to book for Hoy & Pendleton too.
Unfortunately I just couldn't get on with it, by chapter 5 I was having to make notes to keep myself remembering what all the phrases and terms meant:

Stone of truth - one's values, beliefs 
Chimp- a complex little thing that is influenced by a whole manner if things that can affect the way you behave, it can have a positive and negative impact on your behavior 
Computer- where all your past experiences are stored and acts as a reference point for the chimp
Gremlins - hard-wired information about how you respond to something - cannot be changed
Planets - I'm not sure yet???... 
Goblins - a stored response that can be adapted or changed
The Core Moon - preparation to undertake a task 

I'm sorry but its read like something scientologists would spout. Chapters 2-3 had lots of good practice ideas raised. The author, Dr. Steve Peters says that your chimp is a simpleton from the ice age and is quick to react and this can cause anger you don't want and then after the event you can feel bad as you didn't control the chimp and allowed it to make you angry. Dr. Peters also says you should take your chimp for a walk, that means go a find a friend and talk to them about all the worries the chimp has. Beyond that, I ran out of strength.

Then there are the pictures in the book, drawn like a child and annotated in comic sans, blurgh! I guess it was to keep it simple maybe even jovial. For me, there is only so long you can read a book and have comic sans staring back at you before you want to throw it. 
I suffer for a distinct bout of self confidence  when reading it on the tube. paranoid plenty of people were peering over my shoulder looking at my comic sans annotations.

I'm sure Hoy, or Queen Vicky P weren't just handed the book and told to read it. Team GB probably paid for regular sessions with the author to discuss themes and any questions they raised about 'foundation stones' and their 'guiding moon' could be talked through.

I've got a degree in sports science and one of my favorite areas was sport psychology and specifically understanding motivation and mental preparation therefore I recognized when the author was referencing an accepted theory. I can appreciate that renaming cognitive evaluation theory and its various components into simplistic terms will greatly help some readers understand why they do or do not feel they want to get on a rainy morning and go for a cycle ride. But dressing it up with chimps doesn't quite mean much to me. Prepare yourself for a tough read, maybe one for a plane flight to Australia.

Inside-out sees the return of Camille McMillans's images accompanied by the unique writing style of Tom Southam, whom journeyed with the Rapha Condor Sharp team during their 2012 season, exploring what it is like to be a first year professional. At times Tom can be terribly honest and dour, but I enjoy his prose and the sullen is punctuated with some really uplifting chapters like the interview with David Millar after his breakaway at the 2012 tour was converted into a stage win.
There are a few copies around in Condor and a few on Sharp's website. It's well laid out and very easy to dip in and out of. Be warned:  if you have a vision of glamour by the life of a pro cyclist prepare for Mr Southam to successful dash any dreams, he's very good at 'keeping it real'. But least I'm not under any illusions.
I'm very intrigued to read Mr Southam's next piece of work - the co-authored book of the life and times Charlie Wegelius the now Garmin-Sharp DS (I'm not sure of the actual title - it's due out this June).

 'In search of Robert Millar' and 'the Dirtiest Race in History: Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis et al' both really riveting reads authored by Richard Moore a former cyclist. His latest cycling piece Sky's the Limit is an engaging tale of Sky's beginning and development the trials the team faced in the first few seasons, the problem is Team Sky suffers from Kremlin-itus, a condition that causes everyone to over analyze ever single thing Team Sky do & write a length about the tiniest of detail. Theories, discussions, analysis are scattered all over cycling internet sites, there are regular features on Sky riders in magazines. The team Sky website is itself well maintained and chocked full of images, stories, blogs, race reports. Sky released a documentary in the autumn of 2012 covering much of the content that Moore raises in his book so for me as a cycling fan, the book is a recap on events that I'd already read at some length about. 
I think this book is suited to my  non cycling hobbyists who occasional dip into the Tour, ride the odd sportive, hold a BBQ in celebration of the Olympic road race. They will enjoy it and I've handed it to many of them instead of trying to provide this with mismanaged answers to their Team Sky questions.

Now, Goldfinger by Ian Flemming has squat to do with cycling heck unlike the other books ive read this spring it doesnt even have pictures. Goldfinger is a compact little book that gets down to business within the first page, not really anything like the film and it is brilliant. If you fancy a few hoursoff cycling   consumed in a world of 1950s espionage written by someone at the time rather than a modern day author's hazy view of it packed with clichés, this it right up your street. 

I found that alternating between cycling non-fiction and full throttle fiction the perfect balance.
I've yet to pick up Tyler Hamilton's book / expose, everyone says its fascinating but I'm concerned it will just spoil everything. I'll give it three years, like Le Métier and then give myself a punch for delaying it for so long!

Now hopefully the sun will come out and give me a reason not to sit inside and read books all day.

About CJ Boom



  1. Bizarrely the Wegelius book was in Foyles Southbank store last weekend, so far (a couple of chapters), so good.

    Oh, and Comic Sans walks into pub and the landlord says "we don't server your type in here"

    1. That should be "we don't serve your type in here"

  2. Thanks for the Goldfinger recommendation. I'm not much of a Bond (or espionage/spy genre) fan but I did pick up an old copy of Casino Royale a while back in a book exchange basket in a Cafe. Intrigued more than anything, to see how it might compare to the film, I started reading and was surprised and gripped.

    Was the Steve Peters book specifically sports oriented?

  3. Also got Casino Royale, but not read it. Thunderball was the most engaging but Goldfinger is good.

    Steve Peters book is not sports orientated. Mabye that is why I had trouble with it. There were everyday scenario's used to explain things and I'm quite content so I don't think I often feel feelings of angry at people on the bus. Maybe....