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Rough Ride: Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,755 ratings  ·  75 reviews
An eye-opening expose of and a heart-breaking lament for professional cycling

Paul Kimmage's boyhood dreams were of cycling glory: wearing the yellow jersey, cycling the Tour de France, becoming a national hero. He knew it wouldn't come easy, but he was prepared to put in the graft. The dedication paid off – he finished sixth in the World Championships as an amateur and in
Paperback, 336 pages
Published 2007 by Yellow Jersey (first published 1990)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Andrew Hecht
May 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any cycling fans
Irishman Paul Kimmage is not going to be winning any awards for writing any time. However, this was book was an enthralling page turner about the life of an obscure professional cyclist in the mid-1980s.

Kimmage rode the Tour de France three times and the Giro once. He details each stage of each tour. But most interesting to me was the behind the scenes look at the rather unglamorous and frankly dangerous life of a professional domestique.

Racing in the rain, snow and sleet. Taking amphetamines,
John Penn
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this book!! Even if you dislike the prickly nature of Paul Kimmage and his abrupt style you have to appreciate the guys moral grounding.

By staying true to what he believes in Paul Kimmage has alienated himself in a world he truly loves, everyone has to have massive respect for that.

As the tales of doping within the peleton are finally being admitted and the omerta is broken Kimmage can well and truly hold his head high.

The book is a heart breaking tale of how a childhood dream is ruined
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I personally wanted more gory insight into the daily life of the peloton, but at the same time I realize what it took to write a book like this. More than the content itself, the courage to come forth woth this should be highly acclaimed.
Catherine Howard
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I think I would've been more impressed with ROUGH RIDE if I haven't just finished THE SECRET RACE (Tyler Hamilton's devastating memoir/exposé), but it's just Paul Kimmage's bad luck that I did.

Because he isn't as emotionally raw, it seems, about his time in pro-cycling, as Hamilton was—perhaps that's because it's much further behind him—and because the drugs problem he describes was only the prologue of what was to come, the whole thing seems to pale in comparison to Hamilton's story. The worst
Jimmy Burns
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Paul was an excellent cyclist but was not world class and he followed in the wheeltracks of other Irish cyclists such as Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and Martin Early, however, any lack of ability on the bike was made up in his ability to write. This book describes the sweat and torment that is professional cycling and Paul writes of a time when illegal doping was taken for granted by most of the peleton, the leaders doped themselves to win whilst the domestiques did so in order to survive.

Paul's i
russell barnes
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cycling, biog
I don't know what it is about cycling memoirs but I find them the most fascinating of all sports books. They rarely stray into laddish #bantz or larks, instead are a more cerebral proposition, mainlining stoicism, pain and fortitude.

The thousands of hours hours spent in the saddle seems to predispose cyclists to thinking about the universal questions. And how many footballers say, would describe themselves as "Cartesian by nature" like Nicolas Aubier is quoted in Rough Ride?

Little nuggets like
Jun 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to ChristinaJL by: Dave Harmon
Interesting, if rather bitter and at times, bleak portrayal of life as a domestique in the peloton of the late-80s.
Patrick Dean
Aug 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
A clear-eyed look at pro cycling from a middle-of-the-pack Irishman. Unfortunately, what he says about drugs in cycling seems to be as true now as when he wrote in the '80s and '90s.
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the commotion and notoriety that surrounded this book, I was expecting a tirade against the evils of doping in sport. I guess in predating the EPO deaths and Festina affair such mild criticism was out of the ordinary, but most of this book was about the troubles of scraping a living as a professional, and certainly made a change from the books by serial winners.

I found the early bit about his childhood a bit dull (I much prefer the more modern trend of jumping into the arena the subject is
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to really like this book having heard so much about it but I could just give it a three.
I was disappointed by the lack of detail around the actual training. I never got the feel of the hardship or commitment to be a top professional.
Reading the book I was almost asking the author what did he expect from his career when he seems to train so little. The only sacrifice seemed to be the absence from home.
And despite his honesty he shied away from nailing people on the drugs issue. It seems
Sandra Donegan
May 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Finally read this to see what the fuss was about after a recent newspaper article stirred up the dust.

As it is a personal memoir, it is mostly about Kimmage’s journey to realise his dream of being a professional cyclist, with the doping scandal being the secondary story.
Doping aside, (we all know what happened next, so he has been vindicated and rightly so) he doesn’t paint a great picture of himself in my opinion.

This book has made me wonder how committed he truly was to his cycling career.
Ryan Patrick
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
One of the few who saw and experienced the doping problem in cycling and was willing to talk about it long before police raids on hotels and confessions on Oprah. I'm not sure I agree that taking a caffeine pill before or during a race or getting a shot of a B vitamin really should count as doping though...
Ciaran Lynch
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great portrayal of pro cycling in the 80s.
Joe Pickert
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very detail-rich account of one man's experience in the pro peloton of the 1980s. I'd definitely recommend it to all cycling fans!
Daragh O'Toole
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A classic.
John Fitzgerald
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant & incredibly brave book by Kimmage. So well written. ...more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, cycling
An interesting and informative account of life as a professional cyclist with an emphasis on the seedy side. What really comes across is how bloody hard the life is!
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cool going back to the yesteryears of cycling, enjoyed the last section - passionate call for more doping controls.
Adam Becket
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
V revealing of the wold of cycling
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Super interesting perspective (with all realities) of how was cycling back in the late 80s in the pro peloton.
Tim Atkinson
Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good book especially with the later edition having updates up to 2006. Been better after Lance getting caught.

I feel that Tyler Hamilton's 'the secret race' is better as closer to the action
M George
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An interesting read. An eye opening account of rider's life.
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Paul Kimmage's diary and description of the grimmer, prosaic, desperate, and downright sleazy aspects of professional cycling ought to have received a great deal of press, but there is a strong sense that the cycling world isn't interested in vindicating one of it's own. If you're looking for the flashier, reality-television seamy underbelly of professional cycling and the organized doping of Lance Armstrong, et alia. (i.e. Sopranos with bikes but less outwardly-directed violence) that has been ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
So much is said about this book not being the best written. However, I think it serves its purpose and is perfect for what it is.

Paul Kimmage was a whistleblower. Granted, some other books on cycling may rattle your emotions more intensely, but Paul's story is still compelling and gut-wrenching when you think of it in the proper context. He was the first to publish a book about doping in professional cycling. This was published in 1990!

Furthermore, I think a lot of other people would be able to
Tarun Rattan
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Paul Kimmage's succinct narration of doping in cycling is a fine example of sports journalism. I first came across this book in an event hosted by Citibank book club in which Paul was interviewed on the latest doping scandal involving Lance Armstrong. There was a book signing after the event in which I bought the book and got it autographed. I finished the book recently and would say that it is well written and presents an interesting insight into the life of a professional cyclist. The book is ...more
Susan Whitmer
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Kimmage writes about life in the elite realm of 80s cycling. Rough Ride chronicles his ascent to the top tier of cycling in his native Ireland only to find out he is only an average performer on the world stage. His refusal to take performance enhancing substances confirms his position in the middle to low end of professional cycling teams.

Rough Ride is a raw story of the world of professional cycling. Even though it was first published in 1990, the headlines of recent Tour de France winne
M Boughner
Jun 24, 2013 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book but just could not do it.

I had just read "the rider" by Tim Krabbe and was looking for another cycling book and this was recommended.

I enjoyed the first 75% as Kimmage describes life in the peloton. He explores motivations, characters, and the unglamorous life of a domestique.
He then turns his meager career into a martyrdom and spends the last 25% harping on the rampant doping in cycling. Like a dog with a bone, he goes over and over how it is unfair and an a
Dan Cohen
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sport, biography

One of the best I've read of the many accounts from ex-pro-cyclists. Kimmage wrote his book long before it became fashionable to do so and his trailblazing was rewarded by being ostracised by his ex-colleagues and ex-friends. His writing is a class above that of the other books of this ilk, which is all the more noteworthy because his book is not ghost-written. He became a professional journalist after leaving the peleton and his writing style makes it easy to see why.

He does come across as phen
Sep 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: cycling
Rough Ride is a bumpy read. The description of Kimmage's experiences as a cyclist end up interwined with his crusade against doping in professional road racing. His repeating the same analysis and conclusions over and over again doesn't make it more (or less) true and it eventually makes the book a drudge to read.

This edition has an epilogue added in 1998 and another in 2006. The added material is almost entirely focused on doping (or anti-doping). He says Floyd Landis' being caught as just one
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Paul Kimmage is an Irish sports journalist who, until his departure in early 2012, wrote for the Sunday Times newspaper in the United Kingdom. He is a former professional road bicycle racer. Kimmage was born into a cycling family. [Wikipedia] ...more

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