Most roadies with professional aspirations have only one dream: to cross the pond and race in Europe. Joe Parkin achieved that goal in the spring of 1986, competing for five years before returning to the US and racing domestically and eventually making the transition to mountain bike racing in its heyday of the ’90s.
His experience racing on the roads, cyclocross courses and trails of America, often for less cash than most bike mechanics earn, is the subject of his new book, Come and Gone, the sequel to his memoir, A Dog in a Hat.
Written in a light, colloquial tone, the 174-page book is tough to put down. If you don’t, you can finish it in just a few hours because Parkin’s time trials and tribulations make for a fun read. His challenges include battles with coaches, a cycling hating/bike-indifferent populace, and racing at altitude.
Heck, he even has a tough time transitioning to the way Americans raced in the 90s. “It often seemed to me that the “athlete” part of the average American bike racer was quite a bit better than that of his European counterpart, but the ‘racer’ part was much weaker,” he writes.
This affects his strategy and experience in a big way. And anyone with experience riding or racing bikes can relate to the mercurial ways of the bike — some days it’s absolute misery and other days even anaerobic threshold approaches the sublime.
Thankfully, Parkin deals with both with a sense of humor and isn’t afraid to make a little fun of himself while providing a first-hand perspective of riding with legends. “Lance had just attacked with the fury of a Formula 1 car, and I felt like I was piloting a Geo Metro in dire need of a valve job, “ he writes about his experience at the USPRO Championship.
So if you’re looking for a fun read about bike racing, definitely grab a copy of Come and Gone, the book which retails for $21.95 is less than $15 Amazon.