Amid all the current books about the old peloton—from “The Secret Race” to “Cycle of Lies”—there is a new and refreshing view of professional cycling from Garmin-Sharp rider Phil Gaimon.
“Pro Cycling on $10 A Day: From Fat Kid to Euro Pro” (VeloPress, $18.95) is not so much about the peloton as it is one young man’s story of what it is like to move up the ranks—albeit slowly at times—to being signed my one of the top pro teams racing today.
Phil really did start out as a chubby adolescent who discovers the bicycle as a way to escape and finds out that he not only lost that “baby fat” but could take that bike a long way. He joined his college cycling club and began winning races; and we all know where that leads.
As he threads his way up the amateur ranks, we find him sometimes signed as a team rider and at other times, riding without any support at all. But, the stories he tells along the way are seriously funny; and, the advice he offers to those who might want to follow in his footsteps is most likely worth taking.
Phil is the author of this book—and it is literate as well as humorous. He never takes himself so seriously as to forget that a cassette can come unscrewed at the most opportune time or that you should never be without a few dollars in your pocket when you’re off the back and need lunch.
There are short and pithy one-paragraph “chapters” with titles such as “You Can Screw Up As Long As You Win” and “Someone Is Always Luckier Than You.” He’ll tell you how to choose your crashes carefully and where the best tacos can be found while on the road.
Grateful that he is racing with a prestigious team, I believe that one of the most important reasons to read this book is to really “get” what it takes to be a professional bike racer.
As Phil Says in the epilogue: “I think about all the intellectual and emotional parts of this sport, the ups and downs, the love and hate, the physical and mental anguish, goal setting, hard work, pressure, teamwork, conquering fear, and overcoming odds. Even if I fail at this mission, I’ll be more prepared for the next one, because no matter what happens in life, I will already have lived through it on a bike”.
I recently interviewed Phil on my radio show—the Outspoken Cyclist—and you can listen to that interview to get a better sense of his thorough understanding of how fragile his position could be while enjoying the opportunity to be an elite pro racer.