For someone whose listed professional strengths include “sarcasm,” Phil Gaimon’s autobiography paradoxically made Judy cry at the end. Maybe this says something more about Judy than it does about Phil Gaimon. Diane probably cried from laughter, starting at the book’s dedication, copied below for your enjoyment.
“When Tyler Hamilton tested positive for a blood transfusion, he claimed that he had a twin who died in utero, and some of those blood cells remained in his body.
I’d like to dedicate this work to the memory of Tyler’s tragically “vanishing” chimeric twin sibling and to Lance Armstrong’s famous missing testicle.
May they rest in peace.”
The book — Pro Cycling on $10 a Day: From fat kid to Euro Pro — is not just an autobiography. It’s almost a novel, complete with protagonists (Frankie Andreu, Jeremy Powers, David Guttenplan), antagonists (Chad Thompson, dopers), a dramatic climax (crashing on his face while in the leader’s jersey at San Dimas), a denouement, and other words we learned in eighth grade English class. In case you’re getting concerned that this won’t be light summer reading, Diane’s assessment is that the book is “easy to read, in the best way possible.”
It’s also extremely easy to relate to the stories in the book, if you are part of a very select population that understands the difference between DFL and DNF, and between chamois cream and shaving cream. (We know that at least one reader of this blog has confused the last two items. In a serious way.) For instance, we’ve projected our own relationship onto the friendship between Phil and his buddy David Guttenplan. Diane goes uphill pretty fast, Judy is really good at crits and tells Diane when she’s doing something dumb in a race.
In all seriousness, Phil gives a hysterical and brutally honest look into the highest echelons of the sport that we love. We might complain about going to local races and getting beaten by pros every weekend, but we at least are making enough money to eat fruits and vegetables (unlike Phil, who was relegated to eating rice and eggs while living off of $15,000 a year — or $2,000! — as a domestic professional). His sense of humor stands out, which certainly helped him persevere through being fucked over by team managers, USAC, mechanics, Harley Davidson motorcycles on descents, winters in Baltimore…the list is pretty long. Phil’s outlook on bike racing makes the sport a great place for the rest of us. We all know riders who are into it for the equipment, for winning, or (delusionally) winning without training, but those who define the best part of the cycling community are the people who just love to ride their bikes and couldn’t do anything else.
For those of you who didn’t find our review convincing and are still reluctant to pick up this delightful, inspirational read, here are some of our favorite nuggets of wisdom from Phil.
“The balls and penis are close geographically but miles apart emotionally.”
“Want to know the best teachers I’ve ever had? Failure and regret.”
“You could eat a whole school bus if you ground it up and sprinkled a little on your oatmeal every morning.”
“After each stage, we’d sneak over to the other teams trailers and steal their empties [water bottles] from the other teams’ trash.”
Lastly, as we fretted about reviewing an English major’s book, Diane kindly pointed out that no one who has a review blurb on the front pages (Brad Huff, Jeremy Powers, Frankie Andreu) is a literary personality. But all those dudes are definitely faster cyclists than we are.
And to Phil, if you’re reading this: You should know that recent UCD graduate and cat 2 cyclist Jeff Buscheck looks up to you more than he does Jay-Z. For whatever that’s worth.