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Ten Points Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 27, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The executive editor of Bicycling magazine explores childhood, fatherhood and cycling in this moving memoir about the legacy of child abuse and the healing power of sport and family. In Emmaus, Pa., in 2004, 39-year-old Strickland decided to take up a near-impossible challenge proposed by his preschool-aged daughter Natalie, to score 10 points in a single season; to do so, he has to place among the top four-ten times-in a local weekly race populated by Olympians and cycling legends. Alternating between present-day life and dispatches from his horrific childhood, Strickland introduces his sadistic father, a man who put a loaded gun in his son's mouth, made him eat dog feces and encouraged him to have sex with his babysitter, among other outrages. Strickland juxtaposes these episodes with scenes of his own shortcomings: unbridled anger with his daughter and marital infidelity with a colleague. It's only through numerous races (and missed points) that he learns to tame the inner demons that threaten his new family. Strickland's lyrical prose and swift pacing lighten the material's weight, but it remains a necessarily brutal read that goes several shades darker than most sports memoirs; though non-cyclists may get bored during the race scenes (and there are plenty), anyone dealing with familial abuse will find Strickland's journey an inspiration.
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From Booklist

When the executive editor of Bicycling told his four-year-old daughter that he would win 10 points during a single amateur bike-racing season, he knew he had made a promise that was almost impossible to keep. To win a point, a competitor has to be among the first four finishers in a race, and Strickland, a writer not a racer, was going up against the elite, men and women who dedicate their lives to the sport. But, being a man who loved his little girl, he took on the challenge and discovered that it wasn't really about the racing at all: it was about being the best father he could be and about coming to terms with the memories of his own abusive childhood. The sports-as-spiritual-therapy theme has been explored plenty of times, and perhaps Strickland doesn't offer any blindingly new revelations, but his book is honest, and he doesn't waste our time with banal observations or facile psychologizing. He is also a very talented writer, and readers should brace themselves for some very moving—and also some rather unsettling—passages. Pitt, David

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (July 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401302580
  • ASIN: B0023RT0HM
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,426,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Leslie Reissner on February 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Ten Points" is the story of Bill Strickland, Executive Editor of Bicycling magazine, and how one summer he promised his daughter Natalie that he would earn ten points racing in the Thursday criterium bike race near their home in Lehigh, Pennsylvania. Bill is in his late 30s, by his own account a racer of impressively modest accomplishment, and his competitors are a motley assemblage of some of the top racing talent in the United States. His odds of getting ten points are pretty poor as he starts his quest but he wants to keep the promise to his daughter. But the challenge extends far beyond the ten points as Bill Strickland turns what on the surface appears to be a middle-aged man's quixotic quest into his need to use the bicycle to bring meaning into his life. He wants to use the discipline, the pain and even the anger of bike racing to overcome his past and build something stronger and more meaningful with his family.

This book is not really about bike racing, but the accounts of the Thursday night races are wonderful in their detail and drama. The other racers-with nicknames like the Animal, Speed, Bird, Steak and Purple Jersey, are talented and dedicated but they seem to operate at a totally different level than even well-trained hobby athletes. The author learns with each session out on the road, but all too often he lacks the physical ability to keep pace. The description of amateur bike racing, and what goes on in your mind as you try to work the pack, is exceptional.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bill Strickland is a survivor. That is for sure. He is also a very strong writer. This book describes his Quixotic effort to evade the generational curse of abuse from which he escaped through earning 10 points in local criterium races. He is equally adept at writing about the beauty & the suffering of bike racing as he is at telling us the chilling details of the abuse he overcame. And, as a father, I related to his boundless love for his daughter.
But you have to have a strong constitution just to READ this book. I cannot imagine what a strong constitution Mr. Strickland mus have to have been so unflinchingly honest with the horrific (there is no other word that comes close to being adequate) details of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. I had to put the book down, multiple times, just because I could not read another word. My heart ached for young Bill Strickland, & for his quest to try to assure that he would not be a part of the continuing cycle of abuse.
I will not even give an example of the abuse Mr. Strickland had to put up with as a child, as it is frankly hard for me to even reflect on them having completed the book.
This is a very good book, very well written - but it is a TOUGH read, even as it is a good read, as you see this man lay bare the horrific (forgive me for not coming up with another adjective, but I can think of no other that is remotely adequeate).
If you have the stomach for it, and would otherwise be interested in cycling & a personal saga of growth & surviving, this is a great book. But I can't really think of anyone I know who I would say, "hey, you would really LOVE this book."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a powerful book with great insights into life, family and cycling. The writer has lived through some horrible experiences and they have shaped his life for the better. He is able to share these experiences in a thoughtful, witty and powerful way. I love cycling and can identify with many of the things he did during his life. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cycles or is married to someone who cycles.
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Format: Hardcover
Ten Points is much more than a book about bicycling. Bill Strickland takes us to places we don't want to go but can't stop reading about. Few of us know the thrill and pain of competitive cycling. Unfortunately, many of us know the pain of abuse at the hands of someone who should be our protector. This book is astonishing, appalling, and inspirational all rolled into one. Strickland achieved 10 points.Ten Points
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Format: Hardcover
Author Bill Strickland is an amateur bicycle racer as well as the executive editor of BICYCLING magazine. He embraces a magnificent obsession -- to earn by placing weekly criterium bike races near his home. He pledges to his pre-school aged daughter that he will score 10 points by placing high enough in this series of races.

TEN POINTS is on one level bicycle narrative, but it transcends that. Strickland's cycling endeavors alternate with flashbacks of a deeply troubled childhood overshadowed by an abusive father. Strickland's father could be considered a poster child for White Trash, except that would probably give undue insult to those who are White Trash. It's people like Strickland's father who make us wish that you had to be licensed in order to sire children. The vignettes of abuse recounted by Strickland are at times difficult to read. I marvel at the courage Strickland has in self-revelation and sharing these memories with the readers. Throughout his adult life the baggage haunted him and impacted his dealings with his friends, his children, and even led him to an extramarital affair which jeopardized his marriage.

Rather than letting this psychic baggage derail his life or marriage, Strickland redoubles his efforts and infuses "the quest for 10 points" with an almost mythic sense of mission. His prose on bike racing cracks and crackles with authenticity, putting you in the middle of the straining peloton. This alone is worth the price of admission...

It would be nice to wrap this up with a tidy Tiffany's bow and relate a story where Bill Strickland ultimately wins his 10 points, transcending his athletic limitations and his past.

Alas, life is rarely so neatly packaged. As one famous bicycle racer has stated, "It's not about the bike.
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