Books & Film

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - writ­ten by Phil Gai­mon pub­lished by Pen­guin Books

Draft An­i­mals; Le Ride; Gravel Cy­cling

Shortly af­ter I fin­ished read­ing Draftan­i­mals, the storm about Phil Gai­mon’s com­ments on Fabian Can­cel­lara’s sup­posed mo­tor cheat­ing raged in the news. In case you missed it, Gai­mon wrote that he had heard the Swiss rider had had his own me­chanic and that his bike was stored apart from oth­ers. Gai­mon fin­ishes with, “That fucker prob­a­bly did have a mo­tor.” Even with the strong lan­guage, the re­tired U.S. pro rider wasn’t re­ally say­ing any­thing new. I didn’t find it strik­ing, yet Can­cel­lara did. There was the threat of le­gal ac­tion against Gai­mon. Then, Can­cel­lara chal­lenged Gai­mon to a race, which seemed to defuse things.

There are other sto­ries in the book on con­firmed cheats that are more in­ter­est­ing. While I liked Thomas Dekker’s re­cent book and found him a com­pelling char­ac­ter, I just didn’t like him. Gai­mon shows Dekker’s sense hu­mour, which made me like the dis­graced Dutch rider a bit more. In Gai­mon’s first book, Pro cy­cling on $10 a day, he cov­ers be­com­ing friends with Tom Daniel­son. For the rider with the “Clean” tat­too, the friend­ship seemed to lead him to a more nu­anced po­si­tion with re­gards to cheaters. Daniel­son’s failed a drug test at the 2015 Tour of Utah, how­ever, de­railed their re­la­tion­ship. And even though Gai­mon can see the com­plex­i­ties of cy­cling’s dirty days, there are peo­ple from that era he’s not keen on, such as Ry­der Hes­jedal and David Mil­lar. It of­ten seems the dis­like stems more from a dif­fer­ence in per­son­al­i­ties than prin­ci­ples.

Draftan­i­mals is Gai­mon’s best book to date. The writ­ing is sharper than in Pro cy­cling on $10 a day. As you’d ex­pect from the funny man, his lat­est work has lots of gags – many via foot­notes, a schtick he seems to have car­ried over from Askapro. But there are also a lot of meaty ex­plo­rations on the na­ture of suc­cess, which is so hard to find in cy­cling. He’s quite am­biva­lent about the idea chas­ing your dreams even though he did achieve them, once in a while.

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