Tuesday, February 14, 2006

23 Days in July (John Wilcockson)

If you relish saying "Ivan Basso" the way that one OLN announcer does, if while barely going 15 mph on your own bike you feel like a daredevil, if you wake up early in the month of July to see the 7 am broadcast of the Tour, then 23 Days in July is for you. I think this would also be a good book for Tour novices who want to learn what this race is all about.

When I was growing up I remember my dad was a big bike enthusiast. He once road the Ragbrai, which is a week-long ride across Iowa. I also remember he had some big heavy rollers in the basement he used in the winter to ride on (looking back, those seem way more dangerous than today's bike trainers). Myself, I grew up with a banana seat pink Huffy but apparently gave up trying to learn (I still blame this somewhat on being the 4th of 4 children. I also think there must have been a winter in there somewhere where everyone forgot I didn't know how to ride). But I did finally learn how at age 25 (in the Jewish Community Center parking lot across the street from my apartment. Jim taught me. It took about a half an hour). Now I ride everywhere I can.

Wilcockson thinks we all have a little bit of that bike craze in us, and this is one of the reasons Lance is so popular. Most of us know how to ride a bike and while coasting down a hill we can all feel, even if just for a moment, a little taste of what he must feel on his bike. The book chronicles the 2004 Tour de France, with each chapter giving a snapshot of each day of racing. There is more about the Tour's history and other riders (including Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Tyler Hamilton) and less about Lance than I was expecting, but that wasn't a bad thing. And all that added information helped fill out the chapters, especially on the sprint days because, really, sprints aren't that exciting until the final end, and even then, those who are contending to win the Tour aren't usually involved. They're tucked away someplace safe in the pack surrounded by their teammates.

Other good books: Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season by Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King. O'Nan and King didn't know the 2004 season was going to be historic when they set out to write about it--they just really love baseball. I thought this was an enjoyable read, especially if you're a baseball fan (Well, I guess I can't really picture a non-baseball fan reading a book completely about baseball). There's a lot of great behind-the-scenes information and action in this, including when O'Nan came to be called "Net guy" by the Fenway crowd.

Next book up: Book Doctor by Esther Cohen


Timoteo said...

Dude, are you a speed-reader? No- seriously-are you? How long is your commute each day? I just finished my first book since Christmas! (although it was 600 pages of dry Middle East history).

You make me feel bad because you read so much. Also because I have never heard of 85% of the books you review.

I feel I am dumb.

Maria Duncan said...

You are not dumb, and you know it! First, you are living half a world away right now, so I wouldn't expect you to know most of these books as I'm pulling most of them off the New Book Shelf at the library. Second, I try to stay away from books that are 600 pages of dry Middle East history, otherwise there would be no postings on this blog for weeks, which would not be very entertaining. Plus I'm not really a fan of books that are 600 pages of dry Middle East history.

You are very smart, and you are the only person I know who can order me the exact food I want at some tiny taqueria in that part of El Paso where no one speaks English. That is a priceless skill, especially since I'm a vegetarian.