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A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium Paperback – September 1, 2008
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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"A Dog in a Hat is a page turner. Anyone who has raced in Europe or who wonders what it's like to jump the ocean on your own should pick up this book. Joe captures the struggle and the intensity to succeed, and the fact that he did it on his own is all the more impressive. Cycling in Europe is tough; doing it Joe's way is even tougher!" -- Frankie Andreu, former professional cyclist
"A Dog in a Hat is the most authentic book ever written on making a living as a pro cyclist in Europe." -- Bob Roll, Versus TV cycling commentator
"A slice of literary badassness. I've had a lifelong struggle maintaining an attention span for reading books, but this is a page turner that's been hard for me to put down. A Dog in a Hat is truly captivating." -- HowtoAvoidtheBummerLife.com
"I loved A Dog in a Hat. Once in, I couldn't put it down. The book rings of truth, youth, and passion." -- Andreas Hestler, former professional cyclist
"I loved A Dog in a Hat. Joe's stories bring back many memories of racing in Belgium, where I learned how to fight for position in the echelon, to suffer in the gutter while jumping curbs and dodging potholes, and to pound out my guts when it really mattered. Belgium is a hard place to learn bicycle racing and Joe's story proves how tough he was." --Ron Kiefel, former pro cyclist
"Joe Parkin is a beautiful piece of work, and he turns out to be a better writer than I am a bike racer." --Bill Strickland, Bicycling magazine
"Joe tells his story straight. It's not pretty but it's not bitter." --BikeRadar.com
"Parkin has written an eloquent and historic volume. In the very uniqueness of his story, Parkin realizes a universality that gives his recollections a resonance with any cyclist. Do not miss this book." -- BelgiumKneeWarmers.com
From the Back Cover
"The most authentic book ever written on making a living as a pro cyclist in Europe." -- Bob Roll, Versus TV cycling commentator
"I saw my first pro kermis race during my first week in Belgium, and it felt like trying to escape a hall of mirrors but not being able to read the exit signs. Everything was larger than life and more grotesque than I had imagined. But kermis racing was not all about the drugs. If the grand tours are like classical music, kermis racing is punk rock, Belgian-style.
At some point during the season, our team was invited to a stage race in France, but our team director had made an agreement for us to race a big kermis in Brugge. My buddy Cocquyt decided that we should go as hard as we possibly could from the gun in the kermis, team time trial style, and then peel off at the end of the 11-kilometer lap, laughing at all the guys we had tortured as we took off for the other race. Of course, we all coughed up blood for the entire trip to France, but it was strangely worth it, as if we had smashed our guitars, poured beer on the audience, and walked offstage before the end of the first song."
Joe Parkin's life changed when he left America to become a professional bike racer in Belgium. In this brutally frank memoir, Parkin celebrates the glory of racing but doesn't flinch from the cold reality of that life--the drugs, the payoffs, the betrayals by teammates, the battles with team owners for contracts and money, the endless promises, and the sheer physical pain of racing day after day.
Set in the hardest place in the world to be a bike racer, A Dog in a Hat is one rider's story of his love affair with professional cycling.
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After "Dog in a Hat," I started to read "Just Ride." I could not finish it. Like I said, no patience for bad writing. Before "Dog," I read Bike Snob's first book, the one with the subtitle, "Systematically and Mercilessly" etc. It was a collection of short works, some of which I liked, and others not so much. But I like most of Weiss's short stuff; he's a very good writer. Next I will read Bob Roll's first (?) book, about which I hear great things from a bicyclist that I trust. But so far in the bicycle-book genre, "Dog" is the top dog, by a long snout.
BTW - The cover doesn't do road cyclists justice as a rule they have skinny arms. LOL
Many reviews speak of JP not being a "winner" or on a winning team, but this book exemplifies the lives of many racers down through the years. The domestique (translates as "servant") as they are known, cycle for the pure love of the sport and give their all for the team. They turn themselves inside out to ride at the front into the wind or to pace up a hill, they give up their bike for a team leader if he has a mechanical, they carry extra food and water, they live through vicarious glory and the sense of accomplishment that only comes from working hard. It's an everyman's story, but Joe chased his dream instead of wondering about what could have been. He measured himself against the best in the world in his "trade" and found out where he stood.
I think this book gives personal, conversational, "warts and all" insight into the life of a guy many of us would envy, but few would have the courage to emulate. A great read.