Chasing Dugard

I finished my first book for the year …. but I cheated.

Saturday morning means cycling. I look forward to getting up early and heading off to catch up with a group of friends. We cycle about 50 kilometres before spending half an hour dissecting the ride over a coffee and muffin then head home to arrive soon after 9:00 a.m. It’s a great way to start the weekend.

What that means is that I try to get to bed reasonably early on Friday. I need to be well rested to keep up with the other guys when the testosterone kicks in.

Unfortunately that wasn’t going to happen this week. I got to bed at a reasonable time but decided to finish Martin Dugard‘s book Chasing Lance before lights out. I started reading the book late last year but only ever got a couple of chapters in, so I can’t really say that this is the first book that I’ve read fully in 2007 but it certainly is the first one I’ve finished in 2007. I grabbed a few moments here and there through the past week to read bits and pieces and got through the final pages on Friday night.

Since finishing the book I’ve read a few reviews from other readers. Many give a glowing account of the book but one review I read was absolutely scathing. I tend to think the truth is somewhere in between.

If you’re a fan of Lance Armstrong or of the Tour de France I reckon that this book’s well worth the read. It’s not a big book so it shouldn’t take you too long to get through. There are lots of snippets describing what goes on behind the scenes at the Tour that will give you a better understanding of the race and those involved. Dugard describes the phenomenon of Lance Armstrong throughout the 2005 Tour de France. It was Lance’s final race and it was his historic 7th win.

Through most of the book Dugard takes a chapter for each stage, though a lot of the time he’s writing more about his own experiences at the Tour rather than the Tour itself. I found it a little odd that the final week of the event wasn’t given quite so much attention. Admittedly the race was pretty much all over after the mountain stages but the space given to the final days made it seem like Dugard’s publishers told him to hurry things up. It feels like he simply abandoned the chapter per stage idea and crammed everything from the last week into a couple of chapters.

The book gives some fascinating historical background to some of the areas the race passes through. It also gives the reader an insight into some of the spectators that follow the event.

If you’re looking for something that gives you a bit more insight into the Tour de France without being overly technical, this is a great read. It’ll never make to my list of greatest books but it’s certainly worth spending the time to read it.

Posted by Rodney Olsen

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