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Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream (Once in a While)

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,223 ratings  ·  114 reviews
From the author of the cult favorite Pro Cycling on $10 a Day and Ask a Pro, the story of one man's quest to realize his childhood dream, and what happened when he actually did it.

Like countless other kids, Phil Gaimon grew up dreaming of being a professional athlete. But unlike countless other kids, he actually pulled it off. After years of amateur races, hard trai
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Penguin Group
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Quirkyreader
I received this as an ARC from Penguin Random House in a random draw.

I usually don't read books about sport so I am not giving this book a star rating.

But I will say this. It will make a great gift to young athletes who aren't sure what path to take in life. Gaimon talks about the ups and downs of his life being a professional athlete. The parts I was drawn to the most were how his sport was impacting his body. There were also plenty of accidents during his racing career that he described in det
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Michael
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cycling
I have read Gaimon's two previous books and liked them reasonably well, so when I saw that he had another book coming out I was eager to read it. It focuses on his most successful year as a WorldTour rider with Garmin-Sharp in 2014, then his "remedial" year as a Continental level rider with Optum, followed by a less successful year with Cannondale (which was a successor WorldTour team to Garmin-Sharp).

The books successfully combines an interesting narrative presentation of what it is like to be
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(a)lyss(a)
"One of you tested positive."

I received a copy of this ebook from firsttoread.com in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first book by Phil Gaimon I've read and while I enjoyed it I felt like throughout the book I thought something was missing.

He shares information about riding and documents his journey as a professional writer. He names names and calls out people who he felt mistreated by throughout his races. He shares anecdotes and jokes and the high and low of his rides. He talks brie
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JDK1962
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you've ever wanted to know what life as a pro cyclist is like (and be entertained at the same time), this would be the book for you. Describing four seasons (two as a Continental [US] racer, two as a WorldTour racer for Garmin-Sharp/Cannondale), you get what seems to be a very inside look at the highs and lows of the life.

I enjoyed this more than his previous book, which was more about the racing. This is more about "living the dream."

And JV, as a manager/team owner, does appear to be kind of
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Caitlin
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Received free from Penguin First to Read, my thoughts are my own.

Phil Gaimon had a dream--to ride a bike professionally in the highest level. And he made it, after extreme dieting, and even more extreme exercise, painful loses, crashes, and dealing with other rider's doping (and later dealing with whether or not to make friends with people who had doped.) It's so much work, but there isn't really the pay off he'd hoped for.

I enjoyed how honest Phil was. Especially as he struggled to deal with t
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Jay
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cycling, audiobook
Gaimon explains how he reached the second tier of bicycle racers but didn’t quite reach the top. His stories are humorous, covering his life and his racing over a four year period, with expected anecdotes and plenty of behind-the-scenes looks at the best racers of our time, their sponsors and support staff. Gaimon’s story is personal and first-person. You learn as much about what makes him tick as about the racing crowd. And he writes about the business of bicycle racing on big European teams as ...more
Charlotte
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Were the pro insights and occasional clever humor of this book worth the incessant penis jokes? Well, I finished it and learned some stuff, and it was fairly well written, but did not feel great about him. He throws doping allegations around like candy, trash talks people, and expresses attitudes towards women that did not make me feel great. Weirdly strong reliance on the footnote as a humor piece.
Michael Finlayson
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Extremely well written. Funny, poignant, sad and revealing.
Only a cycling insider, or dilettante like myself would appreciate its richness and brutal honesty. If you want a picture of how hard it is to become a professional cyclist, this really paints that for the reader. Not a pretty one.
Sean McLaughlin
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought it was a fun portal into the world of pro cycling, and made me want to get out on my bike.
JK
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
oddly I'm not sure if this book made me want to chase my dreams more or made me feel like everything was meaningless and I should give up, but a pleasant and humorous read nonetheless
Tarah
Irreverent, honest, entertaining. But furthers my disappointment with professional cycling. Love the athletes but what a terrible business model.
Dave
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Honest account of pro cycling and what it is like to chase your dreams
Ralph
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When I first picked up Draft Animals, I expected it to be enjoyable on a niche level, for guys like me who like to pretend they're leading a breakaway on the Tour de France, when really, we're just huffing and puffing and trying to lose weight at a quarter of the speed of the pros. And while this book did satisfy the cycling nut in me, it worked on many other levels as well. I've always said David Sedaris was the only author who ever made me laugh out loud while reading, and that was only twice. ...more
Laura
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
A firsthand look into the pro-cycling world that is at times hilarious. I thought it was especially interesting to hear about what it's like to race clean in a (mostly) post-doping sport. After the first half however, I had a hard time remaining engaged since the insights were exclusively about cyclists I was unfamiliar with and there were more references to the author's genitalia than I felt was necessary. Use of specific names of people who had offended the author seemed unfortunate. Those inv ...more
Zachary Kjellberg
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Continuing on from Pro Cycling on $10 a Day, Phil continues to share his journey. Reading about his intense training, his insights and curious adventures while racing, and the chaos of trying to secure contracts, it is really shocking how chaotic the life of a professional cyclist can be. The book has really increased my appreciation for the hard work and challenges pros can face. Disappointed to be finished with this book as Phil's tales and writing style made for a fast enjoyable read, and now ...more
Amory Ross
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Think of the dreamiest job in the world. Among others, a professional athelete is probably a common response. Well, that and a rapper according to some. How frequently do we hear about athletes who have departed the stage? How many ex-pros care to share their story, especially if either their career or their retirement wasn't glamorous? It's that Flaubert style of realist mentality and true experiences. Phil Gaimon's Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream (Once in a While) falls into that c ...more
Stephen Redwood
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, biography
This is a tale that’s lays bare raw emotions. Gaimon seems to have spent his early adulthood going through the classic Kubler Ross denial/ anger/ bargaining/ depression/ acceptance curve. It’s also a tale of the elite amateur and pro-cycling worlds, where the competition for contracts is intense and the fog of enhanced performance hangs over every good result. There’s also the constant threat of dreadful accidents, that seem to occur in every race, and over which the riders become so blasé that ...more
Garbot
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not a huge cycling fan but I've always loved detailed, insider accounts of the day to day grind of obscure professions ranging from garbage collector (Robin Nagle's Picking Up) to biscuit company executive (Alain de Botton's The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work). Phil Gaimon's cycling memoirs scratched that itch, particularly as part of my recent deep dive into books and documentaries chronicling doping scandals in professional cycling and the Olympics.

Encouragingly, since his first book Phil
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Slavomíra Nemčíková
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I hear my favourite cycling journalists often say that cyclists are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things. This books both confirms and negates this claim, and I loved this about it.
Plus, apparently some cyclists are also damn good storytellers, and Phil is one of them. (See, Phil, I really don't think that college was for nothing.) He opens the door to the (extra)ordinary daily life of a pro in a way a friend would, in the process opening the eyes of this cycling fan who thought she k
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Taylor Douthit
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must-read for any cycling fan who wishes to know what the WorldTour is really like.

Hint: it’s not all podium finishes and fancy dinners. It’s more often risking your life for your teammate on a treacherous descent, it’s racing in brutal conditions on hazardous roads for the promise of a contract in writing, it’s being away from loved ones for months at a time, and in the post-doping era, it’s corrupt leadership, pay inequality, and constant monitoring by the USADA.

However, this w
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Shawn
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Phil Gaimon narrates the tale of his own rise from self-professed "fat kid" (I have seen no evidence of this, but have not gone looking, either) to professional cyclist.

A must read for anyone who likes road cycling and wants to see what it's like to be pro, but doesn't want the ghost writers and self aggrandizement. This is told honestly (it seems--again, I haven't don any digging; I'm just trusting the guy) complete with failures, successes, and embarrassing anecdotes.

It's an interesting look
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Cynthia
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this 'insider's look' into the sport of professional cycling. Gaimon tells of all the travel involved, the nutrition aspect, the team player roles on each of the teams, the inside jokes, team strategy, dangerous aspects, health issues, relationships, & the 'doping' of the sport. There's probably a lot exposed here that the average person watching the Tour de France doesn't think about or realize. It's all given in his first person account & is easily readable & follows along the ...more
Giselle Smith
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dave Sloan
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's important to understand that Phil thinks he's funny. He thinks he's very funny. Half of the book is penis jokes, and he's very deprecating. But he's barely funny. He's clever at best. And what he's trying to do in this book is pour his heart out, which doesn't mix well with is pranky, fun-guy persona. He talks about his dad dying of cancer and his girlfriend cheating on him and his boss undercutting his salary. It's a weird combination of fart jokes and bear-it-all honesty. Overall I enjoye ...more
Scott Emmons
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've read Phil's other books and enjoy his 'voice'. This continues the trend of his dramedy-based writing, which I enjoy. This book essentially picks up from 'Pro Cycling on $10 a Day'. He describes how he befriends a former doper that helps get him on a World Tour team, what it's like to be on a Pro tour team, his 'demotion' to a Continental team, and back to the Pros spending much of his time meeting with sponsors rather than riding, and eventual 'retirement'. I didn't realize Phil had been en ...more
Hella Comat
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
An inside look at bicycle racing - not from the point of view of one of the stars - but from a team player or domestique who supports the star rider of the team. Phil raced at the amateur level in the US for years, quite successfully, but living 'hand to mouth', driving and sleeping in an old car and doing anything he could to continue in the sport.

He also had "Clean" tattooed on his arm to state his position regarding doping.

When he finally managed to get into professional racing it was for the
...more
AD LAND
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Well-written, serious/funny peek into the world of pro cycling from a guy who sometimes saw himself as a failure yet could do things on a bike 99.7% of us would not even think possible. I particularly liked the fact that he didn't paint everything black or white. Though a clean rider who derided dopers, he nonetheless developed a strong relationship with Danielson, a disgraced doper who turned out to be a supporter, mentor, pretty nice guy in his view. Also good to see his soul searching over wh ...more
Joe Pickert
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Draft Animals was one of the more fun books I've read this year. Phil Gaimon succeeded in making his brief stint in the World Tour both fun and approachable, even to those unfamiliar with the mechanics of professional cycling. By recounting the personal and emotional struggles he experienced throughout his career, he painted a grim picture of the reality of most professional domestiques.

If you've read his first book, Pro Cycling on $10 a Day, you'll notice an appreciable maturation in both his w
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Carlos Rivera
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read!!

Phil Gaimon, aka "Cookie Monster" is a retired pro cyclist. He is.also a great writer who has penned a funny, insightful, and poignant book about his experiences while chasing the dream of becoming a.professional cyclist. He pulls no punches and is on point with his observations of.the state of the sport, the business side, and the microcosm of cycling team dynamics.

I have read two of Phil's books so far. They will !and you laugh, ponder and get mad at some of the things pro
...more
Mark Silver
Feb 21, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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It’s time to turn your attention to something dark and twisty, to a story (or two or three) so engaging, the pages just fly by. In short, it’s...
26 likes · 3 comments
“My bowel movements were like a German train -- enormous and loud, but also regular.” 1 likes
“Chasing a dream is a one-way relationship: you have to love it and give it everything or it won't work out, but you can't expect loyalty in return. Some guys are realistic about the results and just enjoy the process, but for others, the dream had thrown them away long before and they were still going after it--or maybe they were running away from something else. I had friends who were in it so long, trying to stay above water in their own little world was all they knew, and they'd gotten good at it, with side jobs and host families, living out of their cars, just as I would have been if I hadn't won Redlands by two seconds--if I hadn't met Tom Danielson against my will. If you're lost in the forest, you might get hungry, so you'll teach yourself how to hunt. And then maybe you'll make a shelter when you get cold. It all seems reasonable, but one step at a time, the forest becomes home, and you forget you were trying to get out.” 0 likes
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