Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Review: "Come and Gone"

One of an occasional series of book reviews by the CampyOnlyGuy, offered for those times when we aren't all riding our Campy-equipped mounts.

Like all other professional sports, professional cycling has its glamour events (the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, the Spring Classics) and its stars (Armstrong, Leipheimer, Cancellara), all of whom shine brightly as they traverse the roads of the world.

But behind those bright lights, like the unseen foundations that support a great skyscraper, are legions of cyclists who also make a living on their bicycles but who attract far less attention, fame, ... and money.

Author Joe Parkin was one of those cyclists in the 1990s, racing in both Europe and the US and achieving a fair amount of fame. His latest book, Come and Gone (Velo Press), picks up where his first book, A Dog In a Hat, left off, which Parkin's return to the US after a reasonably successful racing career in Europe.

The story of Parkin's US cycling career, which veers from road cycling to mountain biking, makes for fast-paced and enlightening read that offers a glimpse into the real life of the professional cyclist.

Here, for instance, is Parkin, a fully accredited professional cyclist in 1993, earning a whopping $6,000 as a cyclist and working in a carpentry shop to make ends meet, driving to races and staying in economy motels. It's a tale of no-frills cycling that should be read by anyone thinking of making a living on their bike--not a cautionary tale, but rather a honest and often humorous story that simply tells it like it is.

Come and Gone moves quickly, alternating between tales of Parkin's everyday life, his training rides, his hunt for a spot on a professional team, and blow-by-blow descriptions of some of his key races. It's fast-paced and fun, and you'll find yourself quickly drawn in and rooting for Joe.

You may also find yourself (as we did) pausing to Google Parkin's name to learn more about him and his almost Zelig-like existence in the professional ranks in the US. While he was a successful racer, competing on teams as large as the famous Coors Light squad, he will be the first to admit that he is no Lance Armstrong, and if you weren't a die-hard fan of cycling in the 1990s you probably won't remember him. Example: The book includes a podium photo of Parkin at a race in Helen, Georgia, that shows him between Tinker Juarez and John Tomac, both racers who went on to far greater fame (even though Parking bested Tomac that day).

Come and Gone is available through VeloPress and at local bookstores and bike shops. Information from VeloPress (and a PDF download of the first chapter) are available here

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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