Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tomorrow, We Ride - Jean Bobet

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Tomorrow, We Ride - Jean Bobet

This was a small book that I purchased after reading an excerpt from it, along with an interview with the author, in Roleur Magazine. Jean Bobet was a super domestique in the 1950's who primarily rode in service of his brother, Louison Bobet, a French rider with an impressive palmeres and who was the first cyclist ever to win the Tour de France three times in a row.

While his brother was much more famous, this isn't a biography of Louison Bobet. It really is the story of Jean and his relationship with his brother. Jean was four years younger than Louison and Jean was drawn to more intellectual pursuits. As a result, Jean bounced between academia and cycling and spent time as a journalist after his ultimate retirement from cycling.

This book is a translation from French and it sometimes becomes apparent in the language, whether from the use of terms that aren't familiar to an American audience, or just in the tone or structure. In any case, either the style of writing or the translation gives the book a gentle and lyrical feel that belies the underlying difficulty of bicycle racing and the struggles at times the Bobet brothers face.

Jean Bobet is a doting protector of his brother's legacy and this means that details are sometimes short on the negatives either of his brother's character or difficulties they faced. Nonetheless, it is a charming and engaging story of both Bobets.

Don't read this book looking for the blow-by-blow of any of the Bobet's numerous victories. Sometimes even monument races are dismissed with a phrase like, " . . . and that was the year that Louison won Paris-Roubaix." Some books are written just about that single day in someone's life, but Louison both had so many victories and Jean is so unassuming that if he wasn't there for the race or it doesn't fit into his story, the narrative just skips forward to something he believes is more important.

Do read this book if you are interested in an overview of Bobet's career and life, and even more, ready this book if you are interested in the bond between brothers who were also cyclists during the post-World War II reconstruction of Europe. It is a somewhat rosy view of the time period, but ultimately a very enjoyable and readable book.

And now, back to your regular programming . . .

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