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Racing Through the Dark

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,635 ratings  ·  148 reviews
By his 18th birthday David Millar was living and racing in France, sleeping in rented rooms, tipped to be the next English-speaking Tour winner. A year later he'd realised the dream and signed a professional contract with the Cofidis team, who had one Lance Armstrong on their books. He perhaps lived the high life a little too enthusiastically -- high on a roof after too mu ...more
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published June 16th 2011 by Orion (first published June 1st 2011)
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The Secret Race by Tyler HamiltonThe Rider by Tim KrabbéRacing Through the Dark by David MillarSlaying the Badger by Richard  MooreThe Death of Marco Pantani by Matt Rendell
Best Cycling Books
3rd out of 181 books — 128 voters
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2nd out of 22 books — 16 voters

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Community Reviews

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A fascinating insight into the mind and career of David Millar, one of the UK's (Scotland's) top professional cyclists. From his early days growing up in Hong Kong, through his time as a fresh-faced neo-pro with the Cofidis team - determined to be the best, but also to be the best clean - his continual exposure to doping and his eventual, unsurprising, descent into doping himself. Finally, coming out the other side, exposed and starting to rebuild his career - equally determined that the behavio ...more
Stephen Huntley
This is a disappointingly limp autobiography. Millar gives the impression from afar of someone who might be quirky, intelligent and amusing, and I was hoping his book would reflect those qualities. Unfortunately he comes across as petulant, immature, spoiled and incredibly self-absorbed. Having been caught cheating (and avoiding tax, and blowing a fortune living a high-rolling, partying lifestyle) he becomes a born-again desperate-to-be-heard preacher of clean living. There is no real soul searc ...more
Aug 17, 2012 Jules rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cycling / sports fans
This book was pure love. Wasn't sure what to expect but it was really well written and could hardly put it down. I don't know too much about pro-cycling and therefore learnt a lot about what it was like in the 90s. Great to put my on-off TdF TV viewings in context, as I remembered the names I used to watch on TV and what really went on behind the scenes.

Really fascinating insight into the thoughts and inner workings of David Millar as well. He starts from the start and does a really good job of
The writing in this autobiography/memoir definitely challenges the notion that athletes are dumb and inarticulate. Millar does an excellent job of leading you down the path he took that resulted in him doping and the one that took him back to clean riding. It's not a flattering portrayal of the cycling world, but it does seem like an honest one. For me, it was also a good introduction to cycling as a sport and all that goes into strategy, preparation, team dynamics, racing schedule, etc. Underst ...more
Giles Knight
A powerfully written and open autobiography of a stubbornly talented cyclist, who started out as a naive young pro defiantly against doping, who was slowly and gradually lured in and caught up in the world of cheating, banned for two years and returned clean, an anti-doping figurehead.

Millar's journey was a lonely one, born to an RAF family, constantly on the move, Millar spent time living in Malta, Scotland, England & Hong Kong before securing a contract cycling in France where he seen made
Barbara McVeigh
A well-written inside view of doping culture in professional cycling. Also, the book provides a look into the life and mindset of a professional athlete. Millar admits:

[B]eing a professional athlete's partner or relative is not easy because we live very selfish, goal-oriented lives.

Although we're often at home, we are rarely actually there,
our heads being wrapped up in whatever our next sporting objective may be. At times the self-absorption is taken to the point of obsession. Life boils down t
David Millar has grown on me. Whilst his endless preaching over the perils of doping in professional cycling can come across as sanctimonious and insufferably self-righteous, he's an articulate figure in the sport and a real beacon for its potential drug-free future. Certainly, recent Tours have been all the better for not worrying about cheering someone on, only for them to get banned and their heroics exposed as the result of performance enhancing substances, and Millar has played a role in im ...more
Because of all the Lance Armstrong related hubbub I have not reviewed this because I thought I should do something more than just review this one book, but better to do something than nothing.

Many people who are not cycling enthusiasts will not know who David Millar is - there is a Wikipedia article that provides a lengthy overview. (Arguably it is a wiser time investment to read what is in Wikipedia than the book.)

Millar rode for several teams and was someone from whom success was expected not
Reading Jørgen Leth’s book about professional cycling Den gule trøje i de høje bjerge and Lance Armstrong’s It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life about the beginning of his career, his battle with cancer and his way back to the sport, made me even more appreciative of cycling and the Tour de France. However, Millar’s book is exactly the opposite. It makes me even more aware of the dark side of cycling.

Coincidentally, I began reading this book on July 13th, 2012. I had timed my reading
Paul Cheney
Millar was one of the last British cyclists to go through the older system of being an amateur, before turning pro and being a domestique and main rider for the European teams. He is an immensely talented rider, and if British cycling had been in existence when he started I don’t think that he would have had all the problems with dope and drugs, that ended up with him being banned for two years.

For all that he has done, he is now a major ambassador for anti doping. In the book he talks of the om
Marilyn Rietveld
A superb written book. It reads like a novel; a boy who moves with his father to Hong Kong after the divorce of his parents. The naive teenager with a pure love for cycling fulfils his dream and becomes a pro. Slowly but gradually he realises that the cycling world is not very pretty, but despite that he tries to stay away from doping and manages to get some good results. Now that his rookie period is over the combination of pressure, expectations, lack of guidance, lack of support, lack of medi ...more
An excellent and powerful read, which lays bare cycling in the late 90s and early 2000. Millar's book reveals just how prevalent doping was and how a perfect storm of peer pressure, individual weakness and team expectation could conspire to turn a previously clean racer into a rider doping to get through the physical and mental demands of the international circuit.

Millar does not spare himself or others in his book, resorting only to noms de plume when the behaviours being described are particul
AKA, The Doping Diaries.

A superb autobiography of a prominent cyclist who is key figure in the cycling reform anti-doping effort, who knows the subject inside and out. Millar's "confessional" makes no effort to whitewash or excuse his own actions or past life. To some extent he even goes out of his way to acknowledge not only his past doping, but alcohol abuse and other irresponsibility. He makes no attempt to make us like him. If anything, maybe the opposite: describes himself as having been a
David doesn't make himself likable and is still looking to blame someone for his actions through this book. If you don't agree with him then you must be a doper. A little too condescending and superior sounding to feel like he has changed much.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I will start by talking about what I enjoyed about it.
Firstly, it's a well written book, easy to read and well structured as well. There's a good selection of pictures spanning different periods of David Millar's lifetime, some of them coloured, and that's a bonus in any book.
Secondly it's an autobiography in the strict sense of the word as Millar's account on his childhood and teens is extensive. So the book doesn't really focus on his cycling career as m
Stephen Redwood
If you ever thought about becoming a professional cyclist, read this book first. Intense activity, alternated with hours of recovery time (aka boredom), along with constant hunger in pursuit of an amazing power to weight ratio and frequent, dramatically awful, road accidents. All for a career that may not last long and which prepares one for few alternative career paths. If you still can't hold back your enthusiasm, then I guess it's for you. It was for David Millar. Oh and did I mention the dru ...more
Alan Hamilton

A fascinating read illustrating the loneliness and dedication of the professional cyclist. I would recommend this to all sports fans. Even non-cyclists will find it very interesting.
Aidan Blenkinsopp
Absolutely brilliant read. Millar comes across as a really likeable guy who's lack of perspective led him astray, and the process by which he found perspective makes for a captivating read.
a brutally honest account by David Millar as to why he started doping as a professional cyclist. without wanting to give away too much, let's just say if it wasn't for people like Millar (who have come out at the end of the doping tunnel), the world will still think that doping was done in the bid to be the world's best. it wasn't just that. it was to be the world's best, at a time where everybody around you was doped up to their eyeballs in performance enhancement drugs. does it justify the dop ...more
Absolutely loved this. Incredibly honest and sucked me in from paragraph one.
Simba Sagwete
Incredible book by a very smart man. If you even have a passing interest in cycling or none at all, you have to read this. It's much less about the race and more about what motivates people and how a corrupt system can force even good people to do awful things they aren't proud of. It's also a story about redemption and how when you've messed up, you can make up for it by trying to help other people not to fall into the same temptation. It's the only book I return to time and again; open a page ...more
Another biography about the doping life of a professional cyclist (sigh). Reading about David Millar's cycling career is kind of like watching a car wreck. Another baby boy gets wrapped up in the glory of winning before he has developed any sense in his noggin and soon he feels compelled to win at all costs. He doesn't understand what is expected of him or how to ask for help. He thinks he is supposed to know it all, so he plays along as if he does, never bothering to use his own good sense. Nex ...more
Marianne Meyers
Some people are scared to read forth-right honesty, it can make them uncomfortable. Professional cyclists, like all professional athletes, tend to become very self-involved - how much food intake, how much water, how to pace oneself, etc. David is an honest man and a professional cyclist who at one time made very bad decisions without much thought. Going through the doping ban made him become who he is today. His wife is right, before the doping ban, he was an asshole and someone I wouldn't have ...more
Nick Sweeney
David Millar famously doped and got done, later saying he'd left the evidence out in full view because of a subconscious need to unburden himself of the dope, the pressure to succeed and the pressure of his managers and team-mates. He starts his book, appropriately enough, with this event. He also sketches a scene from after his comeback from doping, his famously 'epic fail' when the 2009 Tour de France visited Barcelona - almost his home - and he went for it only to be swallowed up by the bunch ...more
This is David Millar's autobiography, written in 2011 and therefore before the Lance Armstrong situation really blew up. This is the biggest downside of the book for me as David Millar is a cyclist who has served a ban for doping in the past and who is now very outspoken against it. In the book he speaks of Lance as a 'friend' and comments very little on the rumours that surrounded Lance. I hope that this was prudence and a refusal to pass on rumours of which he had no proof and not misplaced lo ...more
Jimmy Burns
This book takes the reader on a journey from mis-spent youth through a period of dedication to the author's sport and ultimate succumbing to cheating in order to keep up with his competitors. His drug enhanced performances are finally discovered and Millar finds the road to redemption and recapturing his place amongst cycling's elite.

Millar never hides the darker, hedonistic side to his personality and having been bitten by the cycling bug, his determination, ability and single-mindedness come t
Kenadi Moore
I know my love of cycling makes me biased, but this was definitely my favorite autobiography. I think it really shows that you don’t have to be a bad person to do bad things. As Millar detailed his early career as a pro cyclist, it was not hard to understand what finally led him to go against everything he believed and become a “doper”. While Millar was social and too often a big partier, he also seemed very isolated so much of the time. I was very surprised at the lack of cohesion within the te ...more
Simon Ward
The problem with many biographies and autobiographies is that they are structured in much the same way. There is usually an opening passage which describes the defining event (what the subject is famous for), and then the main text does a straight chronological run through the life, justifying and rationalising the event by detailing what came before, and what happened after.

This is true of this book too, which isn't bad, but by focusing on the one issue - doping - it detracts from other things
As a keen fan of cycling and the big Tours in particular I was looking forward to reading this book, and it didn't disappoint.
David Millar raced through an era when other Brits came and went ( Chris Boardman etc), survived and is still there putting in great performances as a Domestique.
Having always been a keen supporter of any Brits who dared to challenge the might of European cycling ( or Lance Armstrong) I followed David's performances in the big tours with interest and pride. I was theref
In June of 2004, only a few days away from the year’s Tour de France, French police arrested David Millar for possession of dangerous substances. In a raid of his apartment, the police officers found 2 used syringes that had once contained EPO, syringes that the author tells us were simply there to remind him of the life of doping he didn’t want to lead. The devastation that this wreaked could easily have been career-ending, and in other cases, had. In an unusual response to these allegations, D ...more
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David Millar is a Scottish road racing cyclist riding for Garmin-Sharp. He has won five stages of the Tour de France, two of the Vuelta a España and one Stage of the Giro d'Italia. He was the British national road champion and the national time trial champion, both in 2007. He is the only British rider to have worn all Tour de France jerseys and one of five to have worn the yellow jersey. He was a ...more
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“The past is as important as the future, but we only live in the here and now.” 2 likes
“I'd just killed some of the best riders in the world - and I was clean. I'd taken nothing - no EPO, no cortisone, no testosterone, no painkillers, no caffeine. I had justified to myself that I was a great rider without drugs - yet perversely given myself the green light to dope again. I'd proved what I could do clean - how much more could I do if I was doped?” 2 likes
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