P1050155

William Fotheringham: Racing Hard

William Fotheringham: Racing Hard

by / / 24 posts

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.

Racing Hard

ISBN: 0571303625

Publisher: Faber Books

Amazon: PaperbackKindle

// Book Review // Nostalgia // Racing // Tradition

  1. This iss going ion the book list for sure. As for Frank’s other loves, in the late 80s my TT race wheels were 24 spoke, Mavic hubs, Clement Criterium tubulars on Royce hubs. Sweetness personified. Alas, my folks moved house in 93 and they went AWOL. For the record, I was living in Terre Haute at the time and had no control over the situation.

    I also bought International Cycle Sport at Rattray’s bike shop in Glasgow (maker of the famous Flying Scot frames). Again, it was like looking at another world far beyond my ken. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you poor buggers i the US in terms of getting info.We at least had Cycling Weekly to slake our thirst for knowledge.

  2. Does anyone else (besides Frank and I) remember when Velonews was large newsprint, the writing was fairly good, and they actually covered local racing as well as world wide events? I do. I’m even in a few issues (local races). I really wish I had held onto those.

    And yes, I’ll be adding this to the cycling library.

  3. Clement criterium seta tubulars….now that was heaven. Campagnolo Record hubs, 32 hole with Ambrosio hoops. Full race gear only for racing..alas..where to find those magic tires.?

    the pack rat in me still has many of those oversized velonews publications..I think they are in the attic with piles of winning mag. Yes, the reports where months late, but that was the only way to get good coverage and killer photos..

    its 19 degrees c at 2,073 meters now. I am gonna suffer today.

  4. As someone very new to cycling — I bought a steel Titan road bike a few weeks ago and have following along here for about as long — William’s articles have been a wonderful entry into all things cycling.  His association was one of the main reasons I picked up a couple of editions of Rouleur magazine, too, which are filling the weekend nicely, now that I’ve finished putting on a new chain, new cables, cleaning, lubing, and going for a ride in the hills around Wuppertal, Germany.

    Thanks to everyone here, by the way, for all the entertaining and useful posts!

  5. @scaler911 Hey if you want one of those old velo news I’m sure I have a few down in the archive room. I’ll happily let you have one. If you tell me the issue number you were listed in I’ll look for that too. Then you have something to read in the bathroom.

    BR

  6. Mr William Fotheringham tweeted his acknowledgement of this article the other day and wished the Keepers well with the new book. Class.

    Being a small business owner, I do not get to the book store nearly as often as I’d like, but I will find a way to get a copy soon!

  7. @scaler911

    Does anyone else (besides Frank and I) remember when Velonews was large newsprint, the writing was fairly good, and they actually covered local racing as well as world wide events? I do. I’m even in a few issues (local races). I really wish I had held onto those.

    And yes, I’ll be adding this to the cycling library.

    I do, but does anyone remember what came before Velonews? I believe it was called Competitive Cycling, also large newsprint format. It was funnier and more guerrilla than what came after it. It covered a lot of track racing(which was bigger back in the 70s) and road racing, mostly US racing.  News from europe was hard to find unless travelers brought back glossy impenetrable French mags.

  8. @B. Ratcliff

    @scaler911 Hey if you want one of those old velo news I’m sure I have a few down in the archive room. I’ll happily let you have one. If you tell me the issue number you were listed in I’ll look for that too. Then you have something to read in the bathroom.

    BR

    Appreciate the offer, but other than “summers of 94-98” I have no idea. To further clarify, I didn’t just throw them out, when the Mrs and I bought our house, we had stuff (most everything we owned) stored in the basement while I refinished the floors in the main living space. Short version is the city flushed the common sewer line and it all ended up  a foot deep in said basement. $80K later, we had it fixed, but all of our books, clothes and whatnot had to go the way of a HazMat team.

  9. @Gianni

    @scaler911

    Does anyone else (besides Frank and I) remember when Velonews was large newsprint, the writing was fairly good, and they actually covered local racing as well as world wide events? I do. I’m even in a few issues (local races). I really wish I had held onto those.

    And yes, I’ll be adding this to the cycling library.

    I do, but does anyone remember what came before Velonews? I believe it was called Competitive Cycling, also large newsprint format. It was funnier and more guerrilla than what came after it. It covered a lot of track racing(which was bigger back in the 70s) and road racing, mostly US racing. News from europe was hard to find unless travelers brought back glossy impenetrable French mags.

    I couldn’t say. I didn’t really get into cycling, other than following LeMond, until the early 90’s.

  10. Yet one more reason to build a larger book case.  Will get on that quick. Thanks Frank

  11. @scaler911

    I’m an old fuck.

    Frank, I had a subscription to Cycle Sport for many years and I let it expire last year because I read it so carefully that when I was done, a new one would arrive. That’s all I read. I’m an idiot. I miss it. Rouler does not have that wiseass british humor seeping through it and I can  actually devour a Rouler in a weekend.

    I am getting his new book. It sounds fantastic.

  12. I remember Velonews TDF addition coming in the mail to Hawaii in September. I immediately took the phone off the hook and began the journey. It was like Christmas, when that addition showed up in the mail box. There very few things I have saved from the past other than Family pictures, but I did save the Velonews additions of Lemond’s first two TDF wins. I think, I remember the TDF stage that Lemond pulled out of. It was the Alpe d’Huez stage that Andy Hampsten won. The story I heard was that the cut off time was the estimated winner’s time. Lemond said he saw domestiques, who had never ridden in front of him, dropping him. It was a sad day in cycling that day.

  13. @Andrew

    Thank you for the kind words, and welcome!

  14. Nice review and heads up, Frank! I’ve been reading “It’s All About the Bike” since I received it as a gift last year. I just keep on reading it over and over in bed, hoping cycling dreams will keep the Man with the Hammer away a bit longer on the next ride.

    And how about books or movies or experiences as a kid that stick with you because from the isolation of your hometown you felt like you knew more about the world you yearned to join? For me it was snowboarding and lacrosse.  Both were still majorly under the radar on a national scope. I had a stack of Burton catalogues that I’d page through constantly, even though I’d seen ever photo and read every story.

    I’m going to think about this the next coupla rides – how to rediscover the youthful feeling of a link to something you love but can’t enough of and how it inspires your imagination and wonder.

  15. So if William Fortheringham wrote the intro, was Pippa Middleton too busy with her ever burgeoning literary career? Or did she think that being a member of the aristocracy and +1 to Royalty, that Rules didn’t apply to her?

  16. @scaler911

    Does anyone else (besides Frank and I) remember when Velonews was large newsprint, the writing was fairly good, and they actually covered local racing as well as world wide events? I do. I’m even in a few issues (local races). I really wish I had held onto those.

    And yes, I’ll be adding this to the cycling library.

    Ha! I used to check those out at my high school’s library and read them on the bus home.

  17. Eye am famous.  Frank mentions @cyclops his column in the latest issue of Cyclist magazine.

  18. Do I spot two Pinarellos on the cover?

    And, does Pharmstrong have his FD setup with the DT shifter in that photo? I only see his right shifter cable emerging, not a left one.

  19. I went to my local uni library today to check out their cycling books. They have a fair amount on the subject, and some great photo book (albums) of Le Tour. I avoid that section when I have work to do but today I had some free time and hadn’t looked at them in too long.

    I know the section well enough that I can just climb two flights of stairs and find it. Much to my surprise I saw a book on the shelf that I had yet to see. In multi-colored letters a spine read: “MERCKX.”

    Oh my. What a treasure. I didn’t know that Mr. Fotheringham had written a text on the Prophet. I can wait to read it! (need to ask a friend who is a student to check it out for me, ah the lengths I’ll go to for my passion)

    Also, there is an incredible photo in there of Merckx unconscious on the ground after his derny crash, bloodied, but a hand still reached out for the bars. His front wheel is bonkers, bent in half and I think his tubular is rolled off. It occurred in 1969. To think, Eddy accomplished all that, all those 500 some wins…with a bad back?! What a fucking cannibal is right.

    An hour after I picked up the book I found myself halfway into a ride. I thought, “Wait, I wasn’t planning on riding today?” I guess a few photos and that colorful font lighting up “MERCKX” was all I needed. Awesomeness, looking forward to checking it out, Mr. Fotheringham!

  20. @Ron

    The next step is to get a grant so that the library is at home. I can highly recommend that process…

  21. @Ron

    And, does Pharmstrong have his FD setup with the DT shifter in that photo? I only see his right shifter cable emerging, not a left one.

    It is possible, at the top of the Alpe d’Huez one of his bikes is there, DT shifter for the front to save weight. This was for the TT up the Alpe d’Huez.

  22. So if Millar wrote Wil’s foreword, and Wil wrote ours, and Brailsford wrote Millar’s, does that mean Wiggo will write our next one? “Velominati are a bunch of bone-idle wanker cunts.” That’ll pretty much nail it.

  23. @Ron

    I went to my local uni library today to check out their cycling books. They have a fair amount on the subject, and some great photo book (albums) of Le Tour. I avoid that section when I have work to do but today I had some free time and hadn’t looked at them in too long.

    I know the section well enough that I can just climb two flights of stairs and find it. Much to my surprise I saw a book on the shelf that I had yet to see. In multi-colored letters a spine read: “MERCKX.”

    Oh my. What a treasure. I didn’t know that Mr. Fotheringham had written a text on The Prophet. I can wait to read it! (need to ask a friend who is a student to check it out for me, ah the lengths I’ll go to for my passion)

    Also, there is an incredible photo in there of Merckx unconscious on the ground after his derny crash, bloodied, but a hand still reached out for the bars. His front wheel is bonkers, bent in half and I think his tubular is rolled off. It occurred in 1969. To think, Eddy accomplished all that, all those 500 some wins…with a bad back?! What a fucking cannibal is right.

    An hour after I picked up the book I found myself halfway into a ride. I thought, “Wait, I wasn’t planning on riding today?” I guess a few photos and that colorful font lighting up “MERCKX” was all I needed. Awesomeness, looking forward to checking it out, Mr. Fotheringham!

    I tried to hunt down the photo and the nearest I could come up with was this one which sounds similar which was connected to Merckx but I think this is Jean Paul Moser who was run over and died aged 22.  The Prophet dedicated his MSR win to him that year…O and reading and riding is dangerous, you should be careful!

  24. @Deakus

    @Ron

    I went to my local uni library today to check out their cycling books. They have a fair amount on the subject, and some great photo book (albums) of Le Tour. I avoid that section when I have work to do but today I had some free time and hadn’t looked at them in too long.

    I know the section well enough that I can just climb two flights of stairs and find it. Much to my surprise I saw a book on the shelf that I had yet to see. In multi-colored letters a spine read: “MERCKX.”

    Oh my. What a treasure. I didn’t know that Mr. Fotheringham had written a text on The Prophet. I can wait to read it! (need to ask a friend who is a student to check it out for me, ah the lengths I’ll go to for my passion)

    Also, there is an incredible photo in there of Merckx unconscious on the ground after his derny crash, bloodied, but a hand still reached out for the bars. His front wheel is bonkers, bent in half and I think his tubular is rolled off. It occurred in 1969. To think, Eddy accomplished all that, all those 500 some wins…with a bad back?! What a fucking cannibal is right.

    An hour after I picked up the book I found myself halfway into a ride. I thought, “Wait, I wasn’t planning on riding today?” I guess a few photos and that colorful font lighting up “MERCKX” was all I needed. Awesomeness, looking forward to checking it out, Mr. Fotheringham!

    I tried to hunt down the photo and the nearest I could come up with was this one which sounds similar which was connected to Merckx but I think this is Jean Paul Moser who was run over and died aged 22. The Prophet dedicated his MSR win to him that year…O and reading and riding is dangerous, you should be careful!

    Haven’t got the book to hand to check but is this the photo?

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