This autobiography (Orion Books, London, 2011) is almost completely about the “Fall,” about David Millar’s progress into doping. It starts with the moment he is taken into Police custody, charged with doping offences in France. Then, in his own voice, he spends 80% of the book working his way up to this point.
Its a great biography, his childhood is as real as a movie, his ambition as pungent as sweat from the second training session of the day. This book is more than the story of one cyclist, it is the confirmation of the unchanging nature of the cycling industry – a contemporary view on expendable talent, the new hard labourers, youth without prospects 2.0.
100 plus years on, road racing is still a brutal pathway out of powerlessness, a twisted adoption agency for young men seeking a pathway to freedom. As a record of the facets of ambition, it is a stunning read.
It’s a little more average and less enlightening on the passage from unbalanced and self-centred egotist to driving force assisting others to cleaner cycling. It is there for you to read, it’s just not as interesting to him or I and presented in relation to his state and rather lacking in details.
This is not the first accessible, engaging biography by a road cyclist from a broken home. It’s a big, universal theme – finding your home /father on the dark or light side of the force. I really like how much the pulse of success and power thrills Millar.
His house in Biarritz, all night parties, the stunning, swimming opulence of it all. Everything before being busted is a journey inside the successful, elite athlete’s youthful mind. The drug he is on is youth. It distorts, it deranges ( to misquote another Scot), it suffers, adapts, wins and accepts no limits. It is a natural fit to artificial stimulants. Parents, Scotland, breaking in to the pro ranks, different kinds of successes, doping. Vivid reading.
Aging or maturing reads like visiting a drying room full of old towels. Slipstream Sports and all that jazz is all good stuff and worthy. Its a very measured description of his recovery or ‘rise’.
The biography moves to staking a claim in history- a few great facts in this I’m sure. But I wonder about the details, about JV, MW and other people in this hot topic. Can this book ever be more than a work of fiction, written as it is as a persons ‘state of mind’? There is just not enough here.
I don’t think this book is good history, and I’m just not sure that cycling is as clean as Millar describes. The book tells a riveting story however and as the blurb says, it illustrates how doping in sport isn’t black and white. He is a great champion and his story just maybe takes us to an extreme version of ourselves, in youth.