Book Review: Roadie; The Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer

jamie-smith-roadie-book-coverIf you consider yourself a “roadie,” chances are you get a lot of strange looks from your friends, family, and coworkers when you don your Lycra skinsuit or they see the 15 bikes hanging in your garage. The cycling world can get pretty weird at times. Unless you are a rider, there is a lot of stuff that the general public just doesn’t get. Why do we shave our legs? What’s with all those wheels you have laying around? You spent HOW much on your last bike?

We are faced with these questions almost inevitably when we are in the presence of an “outsider,” and it can be tiring repeatedly explaining why we rabidly raid the refrigerator in search of calories or spend hours on end in a dark, damp basement counting watts on the trainer.

Enter Roadie: The Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer, by veteran race announcer Jamie Smith. After spending years explaining the little idiosyncrasies of being a bike racer, Smith decided to write a book to bring understanding to the masses. Roadie acts as a complete guide to the life of a bike racer, written for those confused friends, family, and coworkers in your life who have never driven two hours to race a 45 minute criterium, and have no idea what a 5 hour solo training ride feels like. Everything they ever wanted to know but never understood is covered in the book; training, equipment, racing, lifestyle and everything in between. The best part? It’s engaging, entertaining, and down right fun, from front cover to back.

Although written with the non-cyclist in mind, those more familiar with the way of the bicycle will get a kick out of the book also, as Smith captures every little intricacy of being a bike racer; a fantastically interesting self examination of cyclists. Each chapter, lesson, and story is dead accurate, but simple enough for your next door neighbor to understand. I found myself nodding in agreement with each page, as Smith picked apart everything it means to be a bike racer in a way that only a true roadie could.

The book is published by VeloPress and available online here for $21.95 or at most book retailers (editor’s note: Amazon = $14.93). You can also follow Smith’s blog here, where he keeps some hilarious commentary on various topics around the cycling world.

Comments

Scott Weiss - 02/08/10 - 6:10pm

A good intro book, and still entertaining for veteran racers. Illustrated by the same dude that does the Frazz comic strip.

Maybe review Tim Krabbe’s “The Rider” next.

Tim F. - 02/09/10 - 10:06am

Jef Mallett, the “dude that does the Frazz comic strip,” also illustrated and wrote “Trizophrenia: Inside the Minds of a Triathlete.” After reading Frazz daily since discovering the strip, I’ll be picking up “Trizophrenia” for myself .

Tman - 02/09/10 - 10:44am

Now they just have to write a book to explain it to lay persons for mountain bikers and I’ll be set!

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