Tag Archives: books

Scottish author of cycling books, Richard Moore

Cycling author Richard Moore on Scotland and Slaying the Badger

I spoke to Scottish author Richard Moore in 2012, before he appearing in Aberfeldy, two nights before the Etape Caledonia sportive, Scotland’s biggest cycling event. He discussed his book Slaying the Badger, which covers the careers of Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault, focusing on the 1986 Tour de France, where they went head-to-head as teammates.

Richard Moore appearing at the Watermill bookshop

Hi Richard, you’re appearing at the Watermill bookshop in Aberfeldy, on the eve of the Etape Caledonia, what are you planning to speak about?
I’m mainly going to speak about — and maybe read a bit from — Slaying the Badger. However, I will also talk about Sky’s the Limit. It’s about to come out in paperback with a couple of new chapters on last season… and a bit of looking ahead to how the whole Cavendish / Wiggins thing might work out. Or not.

[Update: 2012 went well for Wiggins at Sky, as we now know, but not so well for Cavendish. Wiggins won the Dauphine, Tour, and Olympic time trial. Although Cav won three tour stages, including the final one on the Champs Elysees, he was frustrated in coming nowhere near challenging for the green jersey. Sky putting full backing behind Wiggin’s GC campaign left the sprinter freelancing for sprint wins, and he later fell well short in the Olympic road race as the British team were overpowered in a gruelling contest.]
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Jean Bobet cycling book, Tomorrow We Ride

Jean Bobet’s book, Tomorrow We Ride

Jean Bobet’s book, Tomorrow We Ride is written by the brother of three-time (1953-55) Tour de France winner Louison Bobet.

A very strong cyclist in his own right, Jean hesitated before pursuing a professional career as a bike rider. With good school grades and a degree in English (during which time he won the student world championships) he went on to spend time teaching French at Robert Gordon College in Aberdeen in Scotland.

I went cycling – for I had packed my bike all the same – in the superb Highland countryside with the Aberdeen Wheelers, who made my life difficult: not because of their cycling potential, but because of their fearsome local accent.

Written with dry humour and subtle wit, I found it an entertaining read, far from a formulaic blow-by-blow account of the more famous brother’s career. Jean’s own story as faithful domestique to his brother is interesting, and it’s rare to get a view from inside the peloton that is as well written as this.

One of the most revealing insights for me was the examination of race-fixing that was par for the course in the lucrative professional post-Tour criteriums, but also de rigeur in many amateur races at the time.

I can recommend this book if you are interested in cycling history, but equally Bobet’s eye for little details that will chime with anyone who has trained hard and raced a bike, can still give the reader pleasure today. Find Jean Bobet’s book, Tomorrow We Ride on amazon.

Jean Bobet book, Tomorrow We Ride

Further reading
excellent review by twmp
Aberdeen Wheelers cycling club

Cycling books: Slaying the Badger by Richard Moore

In 2011, Richard Moore, Scottish journalist and writer published Slaying The Badger – Lemond, Hinault and the greatest ever Tour de France.

It’s an exploration of the 1986  Tour de France – in Moore’s eyes it’s most fascinating ever edition of the race. It featured ‘a show-stopping rivalry’ between Hinault – the belligerent elder statesman of the peloton – and his young American teammate, the brash, unconventional Greg Lemond.

Richard Moore's new book
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Cycling book: David Millar’s autobiography

David Millar’s autobiography was published in 2011.

Millar’s book originally came out inbetween the 2011 Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, entitled Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar. According to a French magazine article Millar at one point said the book was hampering his winter training miles, blaming the concentration required to write. He said it brought out the perfectionist in him and ended up focussing a lot of his efforts on writing. He missed the cobbled classics after illness set his form back, so it’s not clear to what extent the writing affected his form- but I’d expect this to be covered in press interviews for the book.
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Book Review: In Search of Robert Millar

Most cycling fans will probably have read Richard Moore’s In Search of Robert Millar, but having read it I might as well offer my take on it. Coming to it as someone who has recently got into road cycling, a recap of Scotland (and Britain’s) greatest ever road cyclist was a treat for me, but the book is much more than a charting of his career.

The story is framed around the author’s search for Robert Millar, after he retreated from public life in retirement. This gives the book a personal perspective, even something of the historical detective work to it. Moore carried out meticulous research, travelling all over the UK and France to talk to people connected to Millar. After the first few chapters, it falls a little more into the standard biography format, recounting the facts of his career, but the ‘personal journey’ aspect of the search does continue, with Moore’s own responses, and the emotional reactions the riders and coaches he visited, colouring the narrative.

The book is occasionally imbued with a sense of tension, a sort of moral insecurity — Richard Moore is aware Robert Millar wanted to avoid the limelight in retirement, and is anxious not to run roughshod over this wish, whilst remaining keen to produce a book that was essential to the cycling canon. Millar was a complex character- at times painfully shy, while at others mysteriously solitary and detatched, or cuttingly dismissive of a foolish journalist. You can see how it would be awkward to write a book about him if he himself didn’t endorse it.

Book ReviewL In Search of Robert Millar
Robert Millar, scanned by Steve Selwood from an original slide, used with permission.

Moore’s search eventually led to a series of emails that provide an insightful epilogue, that allow the book to close on Robert Millar’s terms (as Moore puts it). The electronic medium is actually one that allows Millar to communicate with cycling fans on an ongoing basis- witness the famous ‘Robert Millar thread’ on Bikeradar.

That the book led the ever-tactful Daily Mail to track down Robert Millar and publish the intrusive ‘sex change story’ must have been a huge disappointment to Moore, who felt he had tackled Millar’s wish for privacy with respect, even while exploring his character in the depth that was required. Even more painful must have been that Millar blamed Moore for the renewed interest in his whereabouts.

I can relate to this in a much more minor context. Since starting this blog, I have published one or two things that have asked to be taken down. My new-found enthusiasm for cycling has led me to put my foot in it on occasion and it is a delicate balance when today’s web services allow you to publish at a moment’s notice without recourse to editors or any due process. No relation to Moore’s creative process, of course, but a small connection for me.

 

Nostalgia for Fausto Coppi

I am reading Will Fotheringham’s Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi. I decided to look for YouTube clips of him but most of the original footage is overlaid with music and powerpoint-style text that wasn’t really to my taste. I did find these dreamlike recreated scenes, from an Italian film about Gino Bartali.

The clip of Coppi and Bartali riding together in the Tour on an Italian team is particularly evocative. Bartali was a bitter rival in the Giro, the Classics and the Italian racing circuit, but when it came to the Tour and the Worlds, it was a real struggle for the Italian team manager Alfredo Binda to get them to bury the hatchet and ride together. On one occasion Binda decreed that Coppi was the team leader

This footage seems to be from a two-part Italian TV drama focusing on Bartali from a channel called Rai Fiction or Rai Uno.

Info on the programme
Still shots
Film available here! (Italian no subtitles)

Will Fotheringham’s book naturally covers his phenomenal success in cycling, including his two Tour-Giro doubles. It also delves into the then-scandalous breakup from his wife Bruna and Giulia Locatelli, and gives some surprising insight into the state of Italy, and cycling just after the second world war.

Richard Moore’s book on Robert Millar

Richard Moore spoke at the Portobello Book Festival in 2009, after he had published In Search of Robert Millar, the story of how he tried to track down Britain’s most successful Tour de France Cyclist.

Richard discussed some of the stories in the book, and the background to Millar’s enigmatic character. He touched on a few other snippets that I felt worthy of attention.

The infamous ‘sex change story’ published by the Daily Mail is something that most people couldn’t be bothered with. It’s distasteful tabloid bullying, but even if it was true, the majority of real cycilng fans wouldn’t give a monkey’s about. Althought the story was published by a gutter paper more interested in salacious headlines than facts, it does seem to have soured relations between Moore and Millar. Although Richard Moore’s investigative work for his book was conducted with caution and respect for privacy, Millar appeared to hold Moore responsible for the renewed interest. In Millar’s eyes, Moore was indirectly responsible for the sex change story.

Richard felt that Millar could have a lot to offer cycling in Britain, and I agree, along with thousands of other British cycling fans, no doubt. The sport is in a boom phase and he could use his profile to inspire riders young and old to get involved. Richard states that he himself was inspired to take up cycling by watching Millar in the Tour de France in the early Eighties. Unfortunately for us though, Millar seems determined to lead a private life.

The desire to shun the limelight is perhaps understandable. At the talk, both Richard Moore and Chris Hoy’s parents spoke of the difficulty that Chris has had adjusting to being recognised everywhere he goes after his triple gold medal performance at the Beijing Olympics. Being doorstepped, constantly recognised, and the feeling of being ‘public property’ would be pretty unpleasant for any person.

Robert Millar Rouleur Magazine issue 13

Robert Millar Rouleur issue 13

Robert Millar is not completely reclusive though. He came back to being involved in cycling when he wrote an article for Rouleur Magazine issue 13. This was sold out but back issues are available if you look hard enough and your pockets are deep enough.

The book won Best Biography at the 2008 British Sports Book Awards.

Richard Moore on Chris Hoy

I saw author and journalist Richard Moore speak today at the Portobello Book Festival. Richard was promoting the biography of Chris Hoy, which is published next Wednesday, but the session was informal and he fielded questions from the floor on a range of topics.

Much of the discussion focused on Chris Hoy’s achievements, the British Cycling track programme and how Chris has dealt with the pressure of fame. Chris’ parents were in the audience to confirm some of the anecdotes. Others however, were not known to them – such as the time Chris was asked by an Australian doping controller to perform a 360° turn while naked. One can only presume it was to admire his tree-trunk thighs.

His second book, Heroes, Villains & Velodromes: Chris Hoy and Britain’s Track Cycling Revolution (HarperCollins), was published in June 2008 and charts the rise of the British success from Sydney to Athens, and covers Chris Hoy’s attempt on the Kilo world record in Columbia.

The new book is an autobiography of Chris Hoy.

Richard is also working on a book about the rivalry between Bernard Hinault and Greg Lemond in the 1986 Tour de France, and is due to be published in 2011.

Richard Moore represented Great Britain and competed for Scotland in the road race and time trial at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. He is acting cycling correspondent for the Guardian and contributes to a range of other publications, including Procycling and Rouleur. He has covered five Tours de France, the Beijing Olympic Games and Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

He also started podcasting with Cyclingnews.com at the Tour de France, and moved on to start his own show with partners Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe – The Cycling Podcast.