If anyone can remember seeing Mr. Obree belt round Herne Hill on the way to another record or be fortunate enough to be caught by him in a time trial on some God forsaken dual carriageway in the middle of nowhere, you’ll know that he always looked a little unusual. The Boardman v Obree battles at the start of the nineties were the finest British cycling has ever seen, the two riders at the top of their game made all the headlines. This is Graeme’s story and it is rags to riches, and back again.
It’s an interesting insight into the world of international racing, mixed in with ‘Boy’s Own’ stuff. Like the public acclaim and mockery as he smashes the Hour record on ‘Old Faithful’, the bike that he built himself with a washing machine bottom bracket bearing. It’s incredible that he welded it together in the basement of his shop, what other world class athlete does that?
But there is more to this book than washing machines and hour records. Graeme is a man in crisis too, his failed businesses, court appearances and his relationships – no wonder they are making a film of his life. He also writes eloquently and intelligently about the mental illnesses he has suffered and how he tried to make sense of his life and his sport.
I read this book in one go, it’s such a warm and compelling a story about such a roller-coaster life that you feel you can’t leave it unfinished. After reading it you really want him to have another crack at cycling, just for old time’s sake.
As Francesco Moser puts it in the Foreword to this book:
“I like him, as does everyone else who loves cycling”
The book costs £6.99 and is published by Birlinn Ltd. ISBN I 84158 335 9
We have three copies of a “Flying Scotsman – The Graeme Obree Story”, win one by sending your name and address to the editor and we’ll pick out three winners at the end of the month.