Books: Pro Cycling on $10 a day


The other day, I felt like opening my Kindle app instead of Threes! before I went to bed, and I started reading the giant stack of titles I’ve gathered over the years, but never quite got around to finishing (or starting in most cases). To be clear, this isn’t a New Years Resolution to read more, but I happened to not be able to sleep around January 1st and decided I should read more, so I am.

I follow cycling and bike racing and have read dozens of books about the sport, so when I heard great reviews of this book written by a domestic US low-level pro rider that (spoiler alert) eventually rode for a ProTour squad, I picked it up immediately. I read it in a couple days, it’s pretty light fare.

Overall, it was just ok. I’ve noticed Phil’s riding and watched him in results, read his columns in Bicycling magazine, and what struck me first was the book is basically like a random diary. Everything is told in chronological order from when he discovered cycling and later bike racing, through his time on many squads. Each chapter is basically a collection of essays all keyed off a title without much holding it together. I imagine he made an outline years ago and wrote a story under each phrase and boom! he had a book.

Phil’s famous for his honesty and opinions, but frankly a lot of the book felt gossipy and a little bit mean towards a lot of riders and companies, and there were times I was reading it where I thought “who would sponsor this guy when he might later tell the world just how awful the organization is being run?” There were good parts of the book. It was amazing to hear how cash-strapped bike teams are and how little they pay riders (he got checks for $166.67 a month for a year), making it clear how much the sport is a labor of love and god does it sound like years and years of toil to get there. It was fun to follow along as he rose in the sport, and I loved the story of his US PRO almost-win that I watched live and felt heart-broken for Phil. It’s a bummer the book ends when it does, since I’d love to hear what his year with Garmin was like (it was brief, he’s back down to a US domestic team now).

Overall, maybe 3 out of 5 stars.