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Bobke II Paperback – September 10, 2003
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"Not a day passes in the life of Bob Roll without a little good time commotion." --Outside magazine
"Bob has a fine eye for the absurd nature of racing a bicycle for a living." --Ned Overend, professional mountain bike racer
"All things considered, Bob is a pretty damn good writer." --Daryl Price, professional mountain bike racer
"Bob Roll is the consummate team player and one of the most "Ëœgentlemanly' riders that I know of in the peloton. He has suffered through countless races helping riders such as Andy Hampsten win the Giro with nary a whimper about little exposure he gained for his toils. He follow the "Ëœcode of respect' that the European "Ëœprofis' demanded of their peers. Bob was always there when you needed him but never in the way! The consummate professional." --Alex Stieda, former 7-Eleven teammate of Bob Roll
From the Back Cover
Bob Roll, lovingly known by his fans as Bobke (correctly pronounced "BOOB-kuh" ), is best described as the gonzo voice of professional cycling. With wry wit, Roll captures the very essence of the sport and gives us an insider's guide to what it takes to ride in the peloton.
Bobke II revisits all of the original Bobke journals of Roll's wild rides and crazy tales about cycling's uncensored side as well as his crazed poetic commentary following his retirement from the peloton. His newest additions cover topics held reverent in cycling as well as those hardly related to the sport. Bobke tips his cap to the classic riders and races, takes us on a grueling week of training with Lance Armstrong, tells the sport as he sees it, and entertains us with plenty of ditties and rants in between. Hold on, because it's a zany, often absurd, yet compelling commotion.
Bob Roll is a man of many pursuits: former Tour de France racer and mountain bike competitor; training partner of Lance Armstrong during his comeback from cancer; columnist in VeloNews; television commentator, interviewer, and writer for the Outdoor Life Network; and a sometime coach, TV commercial star, bit part movie actor, storyteller, and inspirational speaker. He currently resides in Durango, Colorado.
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Many books about cycling seem based on the idea that the riders are lonely, obsessed heroes who are willing to die face down on a peak in the Alps for a moment of glory. Or, alternately, they're doped up cyborgs who are willing to die face down for a pile of money.
While there probably are some examples of both stereotypes, the reality is that, as Bob Roll points out, in Europe, most professional cyclists are working class guys. And so is Bob Roll. That's what makes this book so interesting to me-- and maybe why it disappoints some other reviewers.
Roll is a real oddball as a professional cyclist. (And I don't mean his off-the-wall irreverence, though that is the 800-pound gorilla in the room whenever Roll is present.) Roll's oddness as a professional is that he enjoyed a long career near the top of the road racing and mountain biking worlds, yet he was a thoroughly unexceptional rider. He wasn't really fast, he wasn't a great climber, and he certainly wasn't a great tactical mind. However, he was as tough as a $2 steak. Throughout his career he was willing-- and able-- to race with a nearly maniacal focus on helping his team win. He was relentless, to the point of making his competitors believe that he would ride through walls if need be to beat them. And maybe he would have done just that; who really knows?
In this book, Roll takes us with him as he toils deep in the peloton, as he crashes in horrendous piles of screaming riders, as he pauses to throw up on a French farmer's front lawn, as he goes on fanatical ten-hour training rides with Lance Armstrong or alone in the snow on closed highways in the Rockies. These things, and not the races themselves, are what professional cycling is like for a real-world, working-class guy with a relentless work ethic and a boundless love for cycling.
I'm not sure I'd enjoy being with Bobke on a long car ride, and I most definitely wouldn't want to be trapped in a stalled elevator with him, but I really enjoyed this book. If a regular guy can do an international sport at a high level, Roll is that guy. Read this book, and you'll probably never look at bike racing and the men who do it in quite the same way ever again.
This book isn't really about bike racing. It's about Bob Roll-- Bobke-- a true American original.