Thursday, May 7, 2009

Book Report

I really have to watch what I read. I’m reading waaaaaaay too much heavy stuff with a great deal of social significance. That’s fine, unless it gives me delusions of grandeur and makes me think I can write something with a great deal of social significant. That’s when we’ll all be in trouble. So I decided to read something else. I vacillated between anything by P.G. Wodehouse (always a safe bet if you’re looking for something funny) and a book about cycling. That’s when I went to the bookshelf and realized that I have waaaaaaay too many books on cycling.

(Sorry about that. I think the aaaaaaa key is stuck.)

So I have decided to tell you about some of them.

A Significant Other: Riding the Centenary Tour de France with Lance Armstrong by Matt Rendell.

This is a great book, if you only read every other chapter. (Try it. You probably can’t make yourself do it.) Basically, Matt Rendell followed Victor Hugo Peña around while he was riding in the Tour de France on the U.S. Postal cycling team with Lance Armstrong. (The way the media covered the team, that should have been their names: The U.S. Postal cycling team with Lance Armstrong.) (Oh, and I don’t suppose he literally followed Victor Hugo Peña around, although, for all I know, he did.) (Whew. That was informative.)

Just about every other chapter is what happened on various stages and Victor Hugo’s thoughts about it. These chapters are fascinating. The other chapters were written my Matt Rendell, and they include some of the densest prose I have ever attempted to wade though, and I have read quite a few scientific journal articles, so I have some experience with these things. Try it for yourself.

The Rider by Tim Krabbé. (I hope that Mr. Krabbé appreciates all the work I went to in order to figure out how to type that é).

This is my favorite cycling book of all time. If it isn’t yours, you probably haven’t read it yet. It is an account of the Tour de Mount Aigoul (which is a race I had never heard of) written by a rider who rode it (who I had also never heard of, but what do I know?) and it’s wonderful. I have heard it referred to as a true account and I have heard it referred to as a novel and I have read it described as “hovering ambiguously somewhere between memoir and fiction” which is a very fancy way of saying, “I don’t know.”

I suggest that you try the English translation, unless of course you can read Dutch, which, after all, many people are quite able to do.

Why, you may ask, am I telling you about books when I got up at 6:30 this morning ready to ride despite that fact that a Labrador Retriever tried to walk all over me during the night? Because the idea of riding in an electrical storm just didn’t appeal to me somehow, so I went back to bed instead of getting all those lovely miles I had been looking forward to.

Oh, well. Maybe tomorrow.

See you on the road.

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