Books & Film

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - writ­ten by Jamie Smith pub­lished by Velo­press

Amer­i­can Pro; The Come­back; Afghan Cy­cles

I’d call Jamie Smith’s Amer­i­can pro his third book in a tril­ogy even though his works aren’t pre­sented as such. It starts with Roadie: the mis­un­der­stood world of a bike Racer, a hu­mor­ous, il­lus­trated in­tro­duc­tion into the world of road cy­cling. It’s fol­lowed by Read­ing the race, in which Smith and for­mer pro Chris Horner ex­plore the me­chan­ics and tac­tics of rac­ing. With Amer­i­can pro, Smith chron­i­cles the birth (in 2012) and death (in 2016) of U.S. con­ti­nen­tal team Astel­las Pro Cy­cling. With each book, Smith takes the reader deeper and deeper into cy­cling. In his lat­est, he shows all the chal­lenges that come with run­ning and rid­ing in a team that com­peted mainly in the U.S. and at Cana­dian events, such as the Tour de Beauce, Grand Prix Cy­cliste de Sague­nay and BC Su­per­week.

Smith pro­files the whole team, from founders Matt Curin and An­drew Frey, who man­aged spon­sor­ships and lo­gis­tics, to the rid­ers, such as Ryan Aitch­e­son, Stephen Hyde and Adam My­er­son. There are vic­to­ries and se­ri­ous crashes. There are char­ac­ters like the cool host fam­ily who housed rid­ers at Red­lands in 2014 and the sketchy free­lance me­chanic who wreaked havoc on the team at the same race two years later. Smith delves into num­bers, in­clud­ing rid­ers’ salaries, which can be as low as $6,000 per year. It’s a very hon­est look at the world of do­mes­tic cy­cling, of­ten with some wry hu­mour. I en­joyed Smith’s thoughts on the wis­dom of run­ning bike races that have more par­tic­i­pants than spec­ta­tors. “It’s easy to ques­tion why peo­ple go to the trou­ble of putting on bike races,” Smith writes. “In fact, races ex­ist be­cause peo­ple ig­nore that ques­tion.”

There should be more books like Smith’s. So much in cy­cling is ephemeral. A team, such as Astel­las, loses its spon­sor, and then it’s gone. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber these projects, which, like a break­away in a race, have a slim chance of suc­cess, but can build the rid­ers up for some­thing in the fu­ture.

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