Books & Film
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.