If the book’s author were to scribble something on the back of a fag packet, I would want to read it. To my mind Michael Barry articulates better than anyone what it’s like to be a professional road racer. While I cannot empathise over his descriptions of racing in the peloton, they most accurately answer my question “What’s it like?” When he writes about training, his words sing to me. It’s exactly how I feel when I’m out on my bike.
My only quibble with the book is its brevity. Just 60 pages describing the four seasons of racing and training during Barry’s last year with HTC-Columbia-Highroad, beautifully illustrated with Camille McMillan’s evocative photographs.
The photographs add to the reader’s insight into the life of a seasoned professional. They’re, by and large, not your usual shots of cycling and are all the better for it. You sense you’re seeing something you might not normally witness.
A hangover from his days with Lance’s US Postal Team, Barry is based in Girona, Spain, along with a number of riders from Garmin-Cervelo, most notably David Millar, with whom he regularly trains and enjoys a coffee or two. There’s a great deal of camaraderie among those based here, a feeling of being part of a family. It’s important to Barry.
The book starts in winter and takes us through Barry’s year, season by season. He takes us through his daily routines whether he’s training or racing. He makes references to earlier times growing up in Toronto, and throws in amusing anecdotes from his long career plus teasing snippets about his team mates.
The book’s title reminds us starkly that in order to become a professional bike rider one has to learn one’s craft. Barry’s learnt it well and has ridden in support of some of the sport’s biggest names, as a consequence of which he has a modest palmares. Off the bike, he’s deservedly crafted a following with his priceless prose.
Published by Rouleur Ltd. Photographs by Camille J McMillan.