See update at end for Febuary 2008
The first major “tell-all” cycling book was Rough Ride by Paul Kimmage that came out in 1990. Irish cyclist Paul Kimamge was a professional cyclist for 4 years in the late 80’s. In the 80’s Irish cyclist Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche were the top stars, but Kimmage never reached such heights. He was one of the many cyclists that was a top amateur, but just hung on in the professional ranks and Rough Ride is his story.
Kimmage is now a journalist and is a solid writer so Rough Ride is a good read. It is far better written then Breaking the Chain. It got a bad rap when it came out as a tell-all book, and if it is read that way then it is not very good. Kimmage tries to make it very clear several times that this book is his story and not the story of other riders. He tells about the late Thierry Claveyrolat helping him deal with taking amphetamines for the first time, and so Claveyrolat is one of the few names given. Kimmage really tries to make it clear that he did not want to be talking about other riders, but show the culture in the peloton. It is the story of lesser riders that struggle to win the finish the race and not about the stars that are competing for the win.
He gives daily reports of his rides in the ’86 and ’87 Tour, ’89 Giro, and ‘89 Tour that he would stop halfway through and never race again. These are a great insight into the other end of the pack of riders just trying to finish the race. When Kimmage talks about drugs it is not to win a race, but just to finish. The book is not about drugs it is more about how a rider who was a top amateur deals with not being good enough to become a top professional, and drugs is just part of that story.
Latter editions of the book include a section called “The Soup Turns to Blood” and about the rise of EPO and its influence that happened after Kimmage stopped racing. This is a little more revealing and makes some stronger accusations.
2/2009 UPDATE: I have not had a chance to work on this blog in almost a year being busy with other things. I noticed a bunch of comments appeared on my review of a Rough Ride by Paul Kimmage this weekend.
Apparently Mr Kimmage got in the news by making some comments about Lance Armstrong, and my review of Kimmage’s book appears on the first page for a Google search. Just to let people know this blog has no connection to Paul Kimmage in any way, and making comments here will not do anything.
I will stand by my poorly written review of his book as being worth reading to gain some insight into the experiences of a rider not at the top end of the sport in the 1980’s. Unless there is yet another section added that I am not aware of the book makes no comments about Lance Armstrong, and really focuses on Kimmage’s experiences. Snce he centers on himself and not a tell-all is what I liked about his book. The number of riders found doping in recent years and confessed shows it is not just 1 or 2 lower tier riders that have done everything possible to improve their performance, and those drugs do work.
For further info on books involving doping look at this list here Link