on September 25, 2007
I had just finished "It's Not About The Bike" when my wife -- a keen cyclist -- turned to me and said, "That's only half the story." She handed me "Lance Armstrong's War." "Here's the other half of the story."
You know a good book when you should be doing other things and... you can't put the book down. Bills don't get paid. E-mails don't get answered. You spend too long in the bathroom. "WAR" is one of those books.
Naturally you need to have some passing fascination with the world of professional cycling. For me it was watching the Tour de France and wanting to know more about how it all worked. Daniel Coyle will lead any interested reader into a fascinating world...
An opera needs to be written about the Tour. The melodrama. The characters. The morality plays. The blood. The guts. The insanity. The money. The doping. The journey. The jeering crowds. The test. The human spirit. Victory and loss. It's all there, a nice thick juicy slice of Life! And a huge bite or two of that slice is in WAR.
On the cover of my copy Sports Illustrated has described WAS as a "literary tour de force." A bit of a snob when it comes to writing I noted to myself, (a) What would Sports Illustrated know about literature? and (b) Daniel Coyle's a SPORTS writer for God's sake!
And... the writing is wonderful. Great character sketches. You'll get all the ins and outs of race strategy, sponsorships, training. You'll see France. You'll get a great glimpse of what Bob (Bobke) Rolls calls Eurotrash. You'll love the wry humor and jaundiced eye. Just wait until you meet the Lance hangers-on, "The Dudes" and "The Bros." Be prepared to LOL.
So if you're at all curious about this fascinating world -- but, like me, are either too old or too wise not to join it (!) -- WAR is Highly Recommended. You're in for a good read.
Dr. Kirtland C Peterson
on October 1, 2005
"In bike racing, as in poker, looking cool and impervious is the same as being cool and impervious. Racers thus spend a lot of time studying each other for what card players refer to as "tells": the imminent signs of cracking, the moment of supreme vulnerability when one good push can decide a race. Some tells are so obvious as to be considered amateurish"
The tells that were discussed in this book that I thought were the most fun were the tells that occurred on the first day of the European race, the Tour of Murcia. The belly pinch is one. Under the guise of a handshake, a rival or coach will grasp the target's hand, and tug them forward twisting their bodies lightly for access to their belly, to test for fat. The ass check is more of an art. You look from a distance. Riders in top form have asses that become small and vaguely feminine. After a while you have your rival memorized, what is big for them, small and somewhere in the middle.
These facts, these are the ones that make this book so valuable and so readable. I have been reading this book during the 2005 Le Tour. I now know the real Lance, his rivals and teammates, his loves, his mother, his step-fathers, his children, his friends, his likes and dislikes and so much information about the Le Tour 2004. This book has given credence to my love of Lance Armstrong as a Cancer Survivor, cyclist and all American hero.
Daniel Coyle, the author, has been able to find the right touch; to discuss what Lance Armstrong is all about. And, he has also allowed us into the inner world of the racing cyclist. Just what happens on tour? How do the cyclists prepare? What does it take to be a world class cyclist, and the best cyclist in the world? He has been given access into the inner workings of Le Tour teams. He has provided us with data and statistics of what cyclists endure. Is a cyclist like Lance Armstrong born with the talent or does he have to train his entire life. How does someone overcome this mystique, and how does one answer the questions of doping?
We learn of the lives of Le Tours major players; Jan Ullrich, Tyler Hamilton, Alexandre Vinokourov, Iban Mayo, John Landis and Basso. Why is Lance Armstrong called the greatest athlete of our time? How does Sheryl Crowe measure up with Le Tour group? Linda Armstrong, what is her role, and how has she helped to shape this man we love?
What about the injuries, how does one protect themselves against harm? And, Le Tour, what are the stages, how does a Peleton work, what about the Pyrenees and the Alps? What does Le Tour mean in Europe, and why are not more Americans as enthralled as we are with our hero, Lance Armstrong, and our love of the cycling sport?
"The average pro cyclist will pedal far enough in training each year to encircle the globe. The daily metabolic rate of a Tour de France cyclist exceeds that of Everest climbers and comes close to matching the highest rates found in any other animal species." Does this impress you as it does me? Then this book is for you. I have found this book the most informative and most fun read of any Le Tour book or any Lance Armstrong book.
So highly recommended, I have given books to friends and family. prisrob