It’s not a secret around these parts that William Fotheringham is my favorite Cycling journalist. Growing up as a budding Velominatus in the isolated island known as North America, I could count on one hand the publications that even mentioned Cycling, let alone provided reliable coverage. Winning Magazine and Velonews were my source for race information, but they came out weeks or months after the events they were covering had transpired. Several times a year, however, my dad would come home from a trip to Europe carrying a suitcase loaded with every Cycling publication he could get his hands on, regardless of language.
His cache would usually include a newspaper or two and it was here that I first learned of William Fotheringham. His articles were usually written immediately after the events transpired and, because several of the Pros at the time were from Britain and Ireland, he often had some inside information to relate about the events. I loved it. This was, incidentally, how I came to learn of Royce, a love affair that continues to this day. When he founded Cycle Sport magazine, my dad got a subscription despite the stratospheric cost due to the international shipping. Cycle Sport existed on another plane from the other Cycling rags in the quality and depth of coverage, and I attributed that – right or wrong – to William.
Fotheringham’s latest book, Racing Hard, is a collection of his works throughout his 20 years as a Cycling journalist. The book appeals on a number of levels. The writing is fantastic to begin with, and reading the articles relating events from 20, 10, or 5 years ago through the lens of their context at the time they transpired is a wonderful trip down memory lane. But most of all, the pretext and posttext added to most articles provides interesting insight given his 20/20 hindsight knowing what we know now. Reading the book, I felt as though he was reading his old articles and adding his insight just like you or I might do in picking up an old newspaper and coming across one of his pieces.
The articles he picked for the book also cover elements I completely missed out on due to the lack of coverage here in the States. For instance, the account of Boardman’s crash and subsequent interview are new to me. (We knew about the crash, of course, but our coverage here was more along the lines of, “Some Pommy twat slipped in the rain and now has an owie.”) Another example was the account of Greg LeMond’s last abandon from the Tour de France, climbing into the broom wagon as his team refused to give him a seat in the team car. A triple Tour winner in the broom wagon…
Racing Hard went on sale yesterday, so while you pop out to buy a leaked copy of our book, grab William’s book as well. If nothing else, it will help contrast The Rules with a competently written book.
Publisher: Faber Books