Moving a bit from the running theme, while sticking to endurance sports, with Tyler Hamilton’s memoir: The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs. The book is co-written with NYT Bestselling author and contributing editor for Outside magazine, Daniel Coyle. I acknowledge that I hadn’t heard about Tyler Hamilton before reading the book. If you followed road cycling in the late 90s and early 2000s, this is likely a familiar name but if, like me, you need a bit of context, Tyler Hamilton is an American former professional road bicycle racer, teammate of Lance Armstrong for a few years on the Postal team, who also was part of the Olympics in 2000 and 2004 but had positive doping tests.
In this book, he very openly describes his experience with doping while on the Postal team, and subsequent teams. I assume there is a lot of baggage behind the decision of Tyler Hamilton to open up about doping beyond what he talks about in the book, but whatever the motives, if only 10% of what he talks about is true, this paints a mind blowing story about professional cycling in the 90s and early 2000s. This is the first book I read about the topic and while I knew about the scandals (living in France at the time!), it is mind opening to see it so directly and openly described. The book does end with a light of hope for the future of the sport (published in 2012). I was reading the book this year in early July as the Tour de France was just starting, and while I didn’t follow the results, I do feel like there was a lot of excitement about The Tour and the optimism for clean sport.
I thought this book would interest a lot of people in this group to see the theme of pushing the boundaries of human performance from another endurance sport. Apparently the Netflix special Tour de France: unchained will make you want to follow The Tour (I haven’t watched it yet). While doping is a central theme of the book, the discussion on motivation to do hard things and entering the pain cave will likely resonate with a lot of you. I also think it’s important to bring up the theme of doping and make sure that we have the right systems in place to ensure fair and clean competition in endurance running events. It was already discussed in Kara Goucher’s book The Longest Race in the context of road running.