In this week's edition of Cycling Fun Friday, we'll review a couple of bike books.
As I mentioned earlier, in addition to riding, I did some reading on vacation too. I don't think I'm the only one to save certain books for vacation and I'd been looking forward to reading "Perfect Circles" by Greg Moody ever since I got it months ago.
Perfect Circles is the sequel to "Two Wheels" (mini-review on left sidebar, full review here). and continues the story of Will Ross and his participation on the Haven Pharmaceuticals cycling team. This time around, Haven is the target of some especially unscrupulous operatives trying out a new, undetectable form of doping during the Tour de France.
Unlike some other reviewers, I thought Perfect Circles was better than Two Wheels. At the very least, it started out MUCH faster and kept the fast pace up all the way through. The villians were much more sinister and the description of doping seemed very authentic - and appropriately scary (especially when Moody described the side effects).
Like the first book, Moody displayed a special talent for describing how people die - from the perspective of the person dying. Instead of saying so-and-so shot him with a gun equipped with a silencer, he says:
"The last thing he saw, consciously, was the hole in the pipe, fatter than the barrel of a gun, he thought, and the puff that came out of it. The last thing he heard was the hollow "thup" that greeted the puff as it left the hole in the end of the pipe. The last thing he felt was a slap on his forehead, just above the bridge of his glasses, that joined the "thup" that greeted the puff as it left the hole at the end of the pipe."
The fast pace of the sequel was a welcome contrast to how slowly the first book started out and the characters seemed more believeable - though the main villian, a statuesque aryan named Magda Gertz was a little over the top toward the end. And speaking of the end, there isn't just one, but two twists that I didn't see coming. The last one was especially surprising - maybe not the main hallmark of a good mystery (since there wasn't much mystery), but it certainly added to the suspense.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves mysteries/suspense and especially if you're also into cycling, since Moody provides a lot of behind-the-scenes detail of racing Le Tour. But be sure to read "Two Wheels" first since "Perfect Circles" does mention some of the events in the first book and while you do get enough info to have an idea of what happened before, you'll know a lot more of the backstory.
I'm clearly late to the party, despite having been right in the thick of it early last year, but I finally got around to reading Floyd Landis' book "Positively False." Mrs. Suitcase and I have been fans of Floyd ever since I got into racing in the spring of 2006. It just so happened that that, of course, was his banner year having won the Tour of California and Paris-Nice and competing in the first post-Lance Tour de France.
I wasn't expecting any surprises, especially since everything Floyd-related was thoroughly covered by blogs like Trust But Verify long before the book was published - one of the benefits, and challenges, of living in the era of digital journalism. What I got was a much better understanding of Landis' background, character, and the source of his drive (IMO, it's not testosterone). Of course, while you would expect to like a person more after reading their book, I also came away with a deeper respect for what he accomplished, not only at the 2006 Tour but throughuot his career.
If his claims are true, then the persons responsible for dope test results have a lot to answer for. If the testing process is irreparably flawed, then anti-doping efforts are going to have a much more difficult, if not impossible, job being taken seriously. How can you know whether those efforts are successful if you can't rely on the testing?
At the very least, Positively False raises some serious questions. While the answers can't come in time to help Floyd Landis, hopefully people will raise the bar as high on the testing process and the labs as it has been on the anti-doping efforts themselves. Integrity in both is absolutely critical if the sport of cycling has any hope of ever getting beyond doping. If any good is to come out of the Landis affair, it'll be that his case raised that bar.