Over the last few months I’ve been reading Between the Lines: My Autobiography by Victoria Pendleton. Over the last few years she’s been the heroine of British cycling leading the shift from an amateur second class sport to one that rightly stands alongside the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins.
The book covers the highs – including the numerous world, Olympic, European and national championships that she won – but also some of the lows. As a child she caught the cycling bug from her dad who was a well known amateur cyclist. He was uncompromising in his training, and he encouraged and pushed her to chase him up and down the hills. From here she was spotted by national talent coaches but time and time again she struggled because she wasn’t seen to have the body fit of a cyclist, being too skinny, one official in British Cycling even told her “Miss Victoria….I’m going to find you very annoying “. Like many sports people (just think of Marcus Trescothick and Jonathan Trott to name two) Victoria has often struggled with self-doubt, depression and at times this has sadly led to self-harm.
What was most surprising to me was the difficult politics within British Cycling, especially concerning her relationship with Dr. Scott Gardner, a sprint specialist coach, who was forced out when his relationship with Victoria became public, to the annoyance of much of the squad who blamed her for his departure. She also talks candidly of the sexism rife in the sport, the way in which Sir Chris Hoy had so many more opportunities to win medals purely because he was a man.
In the end Victoria Pendleton had fallen out of love with the sport that defined her and had to be persuaded to stay on for an extra two years in order to compete in London 2012 after deciding to quit in 2010. She ended her career with gold in the Keirin and was robbed of at least a silver in the team sprint by yet another officious unfair ruling before her eventual silver in the sprint.
Between the Lines affords us a rare, behind-the-scenes account of the relationships that consume the most private corners of professional athletes, telling a deeply human story of pain and glory, love and doubt, failure and triumph.
Cyclingnews has today launched its brand new weekly digital magazine for iPad users, and you can download your free copy of issue one from the App Store now.
Cyclingnews HD offers a brand new user experience, with aggregated news and features from Cyclingnews and Procycling magazine running alongside original content and stunning photography. Released every Wednesday, each digital issue will review the major races and talking points from the previous week and will look ahead to what is coming up in the world of professional cycling. There will be detailed guides to major events and regular interviews with the sport’s biggest names.
Issue one previews the first three stages of the 2012 Giro d’Italia, which starts this weekend, and looks back on the Tour of Turkey and the Tour deRomandie. The latter was won by Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins, who enhanced his Tour de France credentials, and in issue one you’ll also find an interview with the British star.
For more information, and to order your free copy of issue one, visit the App Store here
Google wanted to update their old campus bike:
Today CNET reported that Google replaced the 20-inch wheel bikes with new ones after a company-wide, design competition with the criteria of Google, using novel components, structure, and appearance.
While popular, the small bikes were uncomfortable for taller cyclists. The new bike looks like an average city bike, but, campus-wide bikes is still a great scheme.
An interactive collection of 100 bikes that have changed cycling history. From the suitcase-sized Skoot to the Gold-medal-winning Lotus Sport 110, from Tour de France road-bike classics to moving designs of breathtaking innovation, each bicycle is displayed in stunning clarity and technical detail. Users can spin every bike 360º and zoom into details up to 20x magnification to appreciate every component in this rich celebration of cycling culture and design.
Each bike is shown with an informative text that recounts its unique and fascinating story and multiple gallery-quality photographs, and in many instances also includes video clips, original brochures, contemporary advertising, engineering drawings, rare illustrations and links to manufactures’ sites.
Get it now in the iTunes store here.
Whilst spending more time on my bike recently, I re-read It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong. Many people who’ve read the book complain that it doesn’t tell you enough about his training regime, or his amazing achievements as an athlete, but I don’t think that is the point of this book. First and formost this is about his fight for life, and the people who helped him so much during his battle.
A particularly moving part is when Lance is feeling depressed & sorry for himself, and probably in need of a kick in the pants, and the hospital engineers a visit to the children’s cancer ward, where Lance discovers children younger than 10 who were optimistic and determined to beat this thing, and it became a real turning point for him.
I should imagine it is very inspiring for a cancer sufferer (of which I’m extremely thankful I’m not). This disease is no respector of age, class, creed, money or power, it can & will strike at any time. Frightening, but Armstrong’s story shows that even those given little chance of survival, as he was (less than 20%), can & do recover. And what a recovery. The ultimate athlete in the ultimate test of athletic ability.
Whilst on holiday I saw a copy of One More Kilometre and We’re in the Showers by Tim Hilton in a charity bookshop. I thought this would be an interesting book looking at the life of a seasoned 60 year old racing cyclist. The book describes how Tim was brought up in a Midlands Communist party household and cycling being part of his escape to all sorts of places and people. He then goes on to cover the history of club cycling in Britain – the racers, races and politics / organisations; and the history and characters of the classic races in Europe.
At times I felt it got a little too dense, and a bit too pretentious, focussing on the golden time of cycling, and very dismissive of the modern versions of races such as the Tour de France.
If you’re a keen cyclist it’s worth a read, but otherwise I’d suggest giving it a miss.