Book Review: Pro Cycling on $10 a Day by Phil Gaimon


In recent years, cycling literature has been flooded with tell-all books from past and current riders revealing their involvement with doping.  The unfortunate popularity of these books has meant that these criminals have been allowed to profit from their crimes once again.  So it is a huge breath of fresh air when a cycling book comes along that makes you want to stand up and cheer.

Pro Cycling on $10 a Day: From Fat Kid to Euro Pro is the story of how Phil Gaimon went from an overweight teenager in Atlanta to signing a contract with one of the biggest professional cycling teams in the world.  Full of humor and wit, Phil’s story proves that good old fashion hard work and determination will get you to where you want to be.  With stories like Phil’s, I am filled with a sense of optimism that the cycling world has moved out of the doping era.

Phil Gaimon’s writing style is very relaxed and the book is full of humorous anecdotes making Pro Cycling on $10 a Day easy and enjoyable to read.  I enjoyed this book so much that the only reason I would stop reading and put it down was so that it would not end to soon

One aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was seeing inside the pro peloton.  You do not get an idea of what goes on between the riders when watching races on TV where it looks like everyone just watches the wheel in front of them and pedals.  I had never thought about the need for washroom breaks so it was quite a laugh when Phil told stories of all the riders stopping on the side of the road, pulling down their bib, and relieving themselves (obviously something they don’t show on TV).  I have gained a new perspective on what goes on in the peloton that is not shown on TV.

The constant Lance bashing, including apologizing for not punching him in the testicle at the 2009 Tour of California, and stories of male bonding with his teammates always brought a small chuckle and a smile to my face.  Phil makes it seem like there are many good times to be had as a pro cyclist, so why wouldn’t you want to be one?

Phil’s story also highlights the amount of hard work and sacrifice that is required to make it to the top level of this sport.  It takes a special kind of person to keep going through the thousands of miles crisscrossing the country to get to races, the months away from friends and family, the crappy hotels, the meager wages and missed paychecks.  Now that Phil Gaimon has joined Garmin-Sharp and made it through those hard times, any hard times that he will face now as a Euro Pro will look like nothing.

I would describe Pro Cycling on $10 a Day in two words: inspiring and terrifying.  It is inspiring because it shows that hard work and determination can get you to the top, there is no need to take the shortcuts.  But it is also terrifying because of the hardship and sacrifice that lay upon that road.  It is good to have a bit of both though, motivate people but also provide a bit of realism so that they can prepare for what’s coming and push through when they are faced by it.

I really enjoyed this book and it was great to finally have a book that was not about dopers cashing in one more time on their past crimes.  With guys like Phil Gaimon, Jonathan Vaughters, and the entire Garmin-Sharp team in the pro peloton, I hope there will be more stories like Phil’s coming our way.

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