Geraint has written an insightful book about pro-cycling. There are relatively short flashbacks to his early life in Wales but they’re the garnish to the main dish. He’s been in the forefront of elite cycling from its inception under the Sky search for excellence. The stellar characters of British domination are people with whom he has spent extended periods of time. From the earliest days when he shared a house in a grim part of Manchester as a teenager. He lived with subsequent legends Mark Cavendish and Ed Clancy. They all won Olympic gold medals.
His description of the critical importance of preparation supplemented by the sheer grinding hard work destroys any feelings that, ‘if I tried I too could do that’.
In his chapter entitled Pain Geraint is utterly clear
There is the pain of racing hard, your body’s rev needle deep into the red and your engine screaming at its limits. There is the pain of training, when you are forcing your body to do things it is not yet capable of doing, neither crowd nor great prize to pull you through. And there is the pain of major trauma: rupturing your spleen, breaking your nose and scaphoid, fracturing your pelvis. [p233]
This autobiography is wonderful. It’s full of wisdom and sporting anecdotes- like living in the Olympic village- and its brutally honest. Almost as a throwaway comment he also offers a meaningful comment on obsession and what it means to stop being an elite athlete.
Why you should buy this book: It reveals much about elite sport and the competitive spirit.
Why you shouldn’t read this book: You can’t empathise with an utterly alien lifestyle.