Some excerpts from Rough Ride: Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist by Paul Kimmage:

  • ‘I knew it would be hard this morning. In a race that lasts three weeks there are good days and bad days and survival is all about morale. With weak legs and a good head you can go a long way. With good legs and a weak head you go nowhere.’
  • ‘In cycling there is more heartbreak than happiness’
  • ‘The racing was so hard and frequent that it was important to keep up the vitamin and mineral level in the body, and to do this vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 injections during the season were a necessity… I said nothing and just nodded, but inside I was horrified. In my mind a syringe was drugs, and to have to take injections meant having to take drugs’
  • ‘LeMond was in trouble today. He had a bout of diarrhoea. He rode by me with thirty kilometres to go, surrounded by his domestiques bringing him to the front. God, the smell was terrible. It was rolling down his legs. I know if it was me I would have stopped. I mean, it’s only a bike race. But then again I’m not capable of winning it. He is and I suppose that’s the difference.’
  • ‘Two hundred and ten riders had started [the Tour de France]. One hundred and thirty-two had finished. I was 131st. I had survived. I was a ‘Giant of the Road’.’
  • ‘The Tour de France was no ordinary race. It made superhuman demands on the human body. Riding six hours a day for twenty-three days was not possible without vitamin supplements, mineral supplements, chemicals to clean out a tired liver, medication to take the hardness out of rock-hard leg muscles. Taken in tablet form the medication passed through the stomach and liver. This was extra work for already overworked organs and the result was that much of the benefit of the product was lost. Injections avoided this and were therefore much more efficient. A syringe did not always mean doping.’
  • ‘On nights like that racing a bike was not a sport, but just a job. An obligation to earn an honest crust. To survive, you must put the race and the suffering out of your mind. You must think of good times. It rained every single day in Luxembourg, so I was thinking of good times for almost a week. I was climbing really strongly and finished the race in good form about fifteenth and best of our team.’
  • ‘Tears fill my eyes. I decide to try again. I begin to ride faster, deciding not to give up. But the effort lasts just one kilometre. My legs are just empty. A rider passes me on the right at twice my speed. I look across to see who it is. It’s a bearded tourist, riding up the mountain with pannier bags on his bike. A bloody Fred.’
  • ‘He knows exactly how I am feeling and his words are chosen carefully. ‘Ah Polo. You gave it all you could. We can ask no more of you. The kind words have the effect of an aquarium just shattered by the blows of a hammer. Three hours of caged-in disappointment, anguish and shame come flowing out as I break down and weep as I have not done for a long, long time.’
  • Stephen Roche ‘People shouldn’t say I have won this race and Sean had won that. They should look at our careers and say that between us we have won every race on the continent worth winning.’
  • ‘Stephen felt a bit worried that his popularity might distract from what was essentially ‘our day’, but on the contrary his presence created a carnival atmosphere that made it all more enjoyable.’
  • ‘The heat cracked me, and for the first time in the race I considered abandoning. That I didn’t is no comfort to me tonight. The line between hanging in there and getting off can sometimes be so thin. It scares me. I want so desperately to finish this race, but heat and gradient can melt the strongest of resolves. Today I was close to the edge.’
  • ‘I was not going to race again. There would be no dramatic final day, no tearful wave of adieu to my ‘adoring fans’. Tearful adieus were reserved for heroes, and I was no hero. I was a domestique, an also-ran. Also-rans did not have tearful adieus. They raced as pros in anonymity. They quit in anonymity. And I was one of them. Adieu.’
  • ‘Boosted before the stage by an injection of EPO, he had gone to bed that night and slept peacefully for two hours, unaware that the oxygen-enhanced blood, flowing through his veins, was rapidly thickening to treacle’.


  • Breakfast: overnight oats – oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, maple syrup, dessiccated coconut, dried cherries
  • Lunch: vegge subway
  • Dinner: noodles with fried egg, spinach, potato, cauliflower, broccoli; some potato salad – potato, egg, parsley, mayonnaise, salt, white pepper
  • Other: soy mocha, soy hot chocolate, one gel.


  • Morning:
    • 10 minute stationary bike
    • Chest press machine 33kg 5 sets
    • Squats 40kg 5 sets
    • Dumbbells 8kg curls and dumbbell shoulder press
  • Evening:
    • 45 minute stationary bike