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Put Me Back on My Bike: In Search of Tom Simpson
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Put Me Back on My Bike: In Search of Tom Simpson

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  688 ratings  ·  33 reviews
'The best cycling biography ever written' - Velo Tom Simpson was an Olympic medallist, world champion and the first Briton to wear the fabled yellow jersey of the Tour de France. He died a tragic early death on the barren moonscape of the Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour. Almost 35 years on, hundreds of fans still make the pilgrimage to the windswept memorial which marks ...more
Paperback, 219 pages
Published June 5th 2003 by Yellow Jersey Press (first published June 20th 2002)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  688 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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I cannot believe that this book has been sitting by my bed for almost a year, hmm. Anyway I was only on page 15 I think, so it didn't take me long to get back up to speed with Tom Simpson.
William Fotheringham has written a good book here, but, and there is a but, it seemed to me to go on far too long.
I am, and have been for many years, a keen cycling fan, and have followed the major races for more years than I can remember. Maybe this all stems from my father being a keen amateur rider who actu
Jan 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
Fotheringham is an excellent sports journalist, and his knowledge of the arcane world of professional cycling is evident in this book. Two quibbles: in tackling the question of drug use in cycling, he never quite manages to evoke the corps de espirit amongst the cycling fraternity which undoubtedly is at the heart of the chronic doping problem - the sense of a world where certain rules apply differently, an understanding that "what happens in the Peleton stays in the Peleton."

My other problem wi
Nov 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I really admired Fotheringham's balanced approach to his subject. It's sometimes too easy to give in and be defensive when you genuinely like the person you're writing about, and Simpson clearly was a likeable man.

Fotheringham kept enough distance to write about where Simpson went wrong, and how Simpson's death was a tragedy brought on not only by the amphetamines in his system, but by his determination to ride himself into oblivion, which cost him his life a short distance from the summit of Mo
russell barnes
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to russell by: pete
Shelves: biog, sport, cycling
Even with the updated afterward and chapters, this is essentially a very big story struggling to get out of a thin book about a man cycling up a mountain and dying at the top.

Where it gets interesting are the vignettes from Simpson's life that Fotheringham unearths, each one fleshing out the man who for most of us only exists as a memorial stone on Mount Ventoux, and few grainy photos.

What emerges is a hugely appealing personality, whose drive and ambition, tragically combined with the treadmill
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I just knew of Tom Simpson as "the English guy who died cycling up a mountain in the Tour, and he took drugs". It's a much more complex story and Fotheringham manages to tell not only Tom's story, but the story of professional cycling at that time, and you need to know about the latter to understand the former. At times it feels like the whole book is built around his death on the Ventoux, and everything seen in the context of that. It's not really, but even so it was obviously such a seismic ev ...more
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is excellent. You don't need to be knowledgable on cycling or medicine as it breaks everything down into layman's terms. If you don't follow the Tour de France every July, I suggest you find some footage of a stage that involves mont ventoux so you can see exactly what a beast it is.

There were a few minor irritations from the writing. Words are spelt differently (with a hyphen here, without there). Events raised in an early chapter and then in a subsequent chapter were not referenced t
Martin Roberts
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fascinating, well crafter, thoughtful and often moving -- but never sentimental -- book.
I think its focus is skewed, because it revolves around the circumstances of Simpson's untimely death and his legacy, to the point where childhood traits are seen as presaging his end, and indeed the entire final chapter is devoted to describing the Mont Ventoux. This is all very well when it comes to dispelling myths which have grown up, but it does often read like a long post mortem rather than the story
Colin Lowndes
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly excellent read! Extremely well balanced account of a man who wold have split the cycling world if he were alive today! This covers the triumphs as a track pursuit cyclist and a road racer as well as the substance abuse Simpson went through to be the best and sadly led to his death on Mont Vetoux during the 1967 Tour de France. An excellent read about Britain's fist wearer of the Maillot Jaune!
Simon Curtis
Feb 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cycling
A fascinating account of the life of Tommy Simpson - whose memorial on Mt Ventoux I have stood next to on over a dozen occasions - from his early life to his tragic death. Intensely driven, a desire for money overcoming any health fears, it ultimately led to a death on a lunar landscape in heat of 40degrees.
Dan Cohen
Jul 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sport

Good biography of Tom Simpson and well worth a read. As with a number of books on similar subjects recently, it's almost as much about the author's journey in finding out about his subject as it is about the subject himself. If truth be told I'm getting a bit bored with this approach, although I do understand the temptation.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Combines surgical precision when it comes to detail and at the same time it is so poetic in its admiration of Simpson and Mont Ventoux that the reader questions him/herself how is this even possible. That Mr Fotheringam achieves that in this book is no mean feat and it makes him a great journalist and author. Quite easily the best cycling book I've read so far. A classic.
April Sanders
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting look into the life and death of Tom Simpson, one of the first Brits to make it good on the European cycling scene. What I did not know was his hero status to the French and Belgians. He was adopted as one of their own.This adoration of Tommy Simpson in 1967 is not something that we see so much now among the nonEuropean riders. If you follow cycling, this is a good book.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a real eye-opener. I was aware of the casual drug use already but the "bottle raids" where riders would go into bars and grab bottles because otherwise they only had 4 bidons per tour stage! How about this bit of quackery: "Avoid drinking when racing, especially in hot weather. When you drink too much you will perspire and lose your strength."
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ChristinaJL by: Dave Harmon
Very insightful account of Tom Simpson's career and pro cycling in the sixties. It gives you a good idea of just how tough these cyclists are but also how hard some are prepared to push their limits in pursuit of success.
Jason Taylor
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting read. Tom becomes more human through the book, it admits to tip toeing around the amphetamines issue and being from the middle of the Armstrong years it casts the world in a light that doesn't sit true now.
Charlie Durell
A most interesting insight to professional cycling in the 1960's. A well written book that captures the level of expectation in the profession and competitive nature of the sport.
Brian Lavis
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Disappointing really. Doesn't really live up to being a great read, but it is an interesting insight into the man Tom Simpson.
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was interesting, giving a good insight into the foreign world of cycling in the 1960s. It focused a little too much on the drugs but was otherwise brilliant.
Stephen Boddie
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
a superb book. read it
Adam Cave
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating recount of a fascinating, quirky and talented character. Pioneer of British cycling, inspirational. The underlying theme of drug use shows how deep and rooted the issues in cycling are.
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended by Rob Penn
Barry Bridges
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio, cycling
Not strictly a full biography, more an in depth analysis of the mind of Tom Simpson and the factors that contributed to his sad demise on Mont Ventoux.
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Well written, but more than a bit depressing, it gives a little insight into Lance Armstrong. Makes me glad I'm not a racer, but gives an excellent peep into the mind of one.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
We’ve read about modern-day dopers — this is the rest of story.
Colin Climie
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This biography starts routinely enough and was easy to pick up and put back down. However, as I progressed, the urge to read more became greater. There is a relevancy here that has lasted.
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very engaging biography of a terrifically charismatic cycle racer. A real grafter who worked his way from a pit village in the north of England to mixing it with the racing elite in Europe.

Tom Simpson seems to have been a real character, showman, eccentric and very likeable man - the kind of sportsman that seems in very short supply in the modern era.

Strangely even the drug taking doesnt tarnish his memory. It was a different era and they were playing by different rules back in the day. It too
David Campbell
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
British sports journalist William Fotheringham’s sobering look at the myths, medicines, and madness of pro cycling embodied by the life, career, and death of English cyclist and 1965 UCI World Champion Tom Simpson. On July 13th, 1967, Simpson, the first Anglo-Saxon to ever wear the Yellow Jersey collapses on Stage 13 of Le Tour de France near the top of Mt. Ventoux, hands locked to his handlebars, uttering “Put me back on my bike”. As his body is flown off the summit for autopsy and the cocktail ...more
John Armstrong
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a fantastic book. There is so much information in really what is a very short book, but it’s concise and to the point... but also somehow detailed. The structure is spot on and the author doesn’t hold back either with some of the bad things, but he also manages to draw out the reasons for those bad things happening and retains Simpson’s integrity and dignity. Loved reading it and I shall probably read it again at some point. Excellent.
Venkateswara Rao
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
'Put me back on my bike' by William Fotheringham. One of the best cycling biographies I've read. Very well researched and insightful about the cycle racing in Europe in the 60s and into the inspiring and yet tragic life of the British cyclist, Tom Simpson. Couldn't have picked a better book to get back to the reading habit. 😊
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Bit of a depressing read about the realities of the drug culture in cycling in the post-war era
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