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Rough Ride: Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist Paperback – May 30, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Random House UK; 2nd edition (May 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224061704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224061704
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,564,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Kimmage’s tale provides an important context for our current problems with performance enhancing drugs, i.e., doping."—Boston.com
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Winner of the 1990 William Hill Sports Book of the Year.

A former rider in the Tour de France tells what life is really like in the world of professional cycling. This new edition is fully updated with two new chapters on the escalation of the use of drugs in sports.

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Kimmage's story of life as a cycling domestique is fascinating.
Bill McGann
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in cycling, in becoming a professional cyclist or if you are interested in how drug cheating can become so normal.
Tom Carson
Great read, good to know what was really going on behind the scenes in cycling.
Lisa Clarke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Noel Molloy on September 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
Kimmage rode with some of the greats of cycling, but was only in the cold shadow of greatness in terms of ability. He details in the book the means taken by some cyclists to climb out of the shadows into the sunshine by taking drugs. His book was brave at the time, he was accused of 'spitting in the soup' and lost the friendship of many of his cycling peers for his writing about the drug taking. He was called a liar. But time has revealed through the 'festina affair' who were the liars. A good read, but leaves one feeling a little sad to think that sport in general, not just cycling, can be so diseased.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
What happens when the talented amateur becomes the paid professional cyclist? This book answers that question in graphic and, occasionally horrifying, detail. To be sure, the author portrays himself as a stained saint of the sport. It does raise the question as to what we expect from all professional athletes.
With the backdrop of the 1998 Tour de France in our history the re-release of this book is a poignant reminder that these riders are not super men. Some, to compete in a grueling stage race, subject their bodies to horrific potential consequences. Most of them are not the leaders but the "domsetiques" who ride in support of the leaders. They lead them in their draft, carry water bottles back and forth, only to drop out just before the glory moments.
Why do they do it? Perhaps it is the sponsors. Perhaps the fans. Perhaps it is just the difference between the professional, to whom the team win is more important than finishing.
This book is a chilling look at all professional sport through the lens of professional cycling.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
Very hard to put down, even though I am strictly a recreational rider with no racing experience I found the story painted very vivid images. Paul Kimmage pours it all on the table, sometimes trying to be neutral, other times being very judgemental. The book feels very honest in presenting the history of drugs and cycling. I would definitely read more of his work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. McCloskey on November 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is written by an idealistic Irish national champion who thought to make a career of himself as a professional cyclist. What he found out is that system as it exists uses up its riders like disposable cameras. He had ambitions of glory or at least success, only to find that his talent is common in the pro ranks. What he describes is what it takes to exist as a professional cyclist - the wear and tear on the body and the pounding on the psyche. Hired as a domestique, his job is to support the big guns, the stars. Yet he is compensated on his own personal racing results, which are earned only when he is released from his supporting duties. For lesser riders like him, doping is the logical and even professional way of being able to perform. His transgressions are minor - caffeine suppositories, and trial use of speed, which he discards as just too *visible*. Eventually he drops out of cycling as he transitions into another line of work, sports reporting. His message is that it is the system that is broken - open knowledge of which events are not dope-controlled, the compensation system that expects riders to sacrifice their own results to those of the team, yet get paid on the basis of their criterium results. Most of all it is the code of silence that keeps all the riders mum and reinforces the idea that there is no alternative.
He speaks from the point of view of the average rider. While he is tight with the Irish greats of his day (Tour de France winner Stephen Roche and TdF points winner Sean Kelly), he can't and doesn't speak of them beyond his personal experiences from sharing hotel rooms, training rides and personal relationships. If you are looking for a tell-all book about the greats of the Tour de France, you will not find it here. This is his story, no one else's.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Craobh Rua on August 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Paul Kimmage is an award-winning sports journalist who writes for the Sunday Times newspaper in the United Kingdom. Born in Dublin, he is a former professional cyclist who competed in the 1980s - alongside compatriots Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and Martin Earley. In "Rough Ride", Kimmage looks back on his life on the bike - he touches on his amateur years, though he focuses more on his time as a professional. While the move into professional cycling was a dream come true for Kimmage, the reality of professional cycling wasn't quite the dream he had hoped for : never mind the physical and psychological difficulties associated with the sport, cycling had a widespread drugs problem.

The 1980s were great times for Irish cycling - Sean Kelly was successful from one end of the decade to the other, while Stephen Roche won the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the World Championships in 1987. Kimmage, however, was a domestique and never won a race. He entered the professional ranks with RMO in 1986, before moving to Fagor-MBK in 1989 - where he rode alongside Stephen Roche until the Tour de France. He abandoned that race and - despite having intended to quit at the end of that season - he never rode professionally again.

Kimmage was one of four new pros taken on by RMO in 1986 - however, as one of the few non-French riders, it was initially difficult for him to integrate into the team. Nevertheless, Andre 'Dede' Chappuis quickly became a friend - as, in time, did Jean Claude Colotti and Thierry Claveyrolat. As an amateur, Kimmage had heard rumours about the drug-taking in the professional ranks. However, he was determined to stay clean - even, initially, refusing to take the vitamin shots. (The shots were injected and, in Kimmage's mind, syringes meant doping.
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