It’s 1987 and Joe Parkin has packed his belongings and bike and made the trip from America to the heart of cycling, Belgium, to pursue a dream of becoming a professional cyclist. A Dog in a Hat charts his journey through the hard world of professional cycling, the highs and lows, and much of the stuff that doesn’t often filter out of the pro peloton.
Parkin was one of the first Americans to race in Europe at about the same time that Greg Lemond was earning a name for himself. Written in a frank, matter-of-fact style, Parkin’s book is fast-paced and chronicles his attempt to live the pro cycling dream. It’s a revealing read, and any cyclist who takes part in racing will be equally inspired and shocked at some of the stuff that goes on inside the peloton.
Parkin eloquently puts into words the unique cycling culture in Belgium and his transition from young American amateur to a low-level professional cyclist racing on a Belgium pro team. It’s a rare glimpse into a world often concealed and his struggles to gain acceptance make the book a truly inspiring read.
This book is about his suffering, his pure passion for cycling and the sacrifices that have to be made in order to earn a living from the sport. At times it’s quite a heartfelt story of just how much cycling has taken from his life, and how little it has given back in return. B’s words don’t attempt to make cycle racing any prettier.
We’ve all harboured dreams of giving up the day job and becoming a professional cyclist, to be a domestique and eke out a living cycling in Belgium. [Not me, it’s too hard – ed.] But the reality, and just how hard pursuing that dream is, is revealed in the Dog in a Hat. Parkin may not have been the most successful cyclist. You may not even have heard of him even. But in his book Parkin reveals what it took to get as far as he did, the sacrifices he had to make and some of the difficult choices that were required. In essence, it’s the story of a painful struggle to follow his dream, to rise up through the ranks of professional cycling. As we learn of how his dreams play out his anecdotes make for an endearing tale of ups and downs.
A must read for any truly passionate cyclist.
£14.99 and available from www.cordee.co.uk (01455 611185) and all good bookshops