Apart from seeing her in action at major championships (and on Strictly Come Dancing of course) I knew very little about Victoria Pendleton’s past. This book addresses that and so much more, whilst most cycling biographies cover a similar path from a childhood riding with friends to eventual stardom it is very rare for one to feel quite as deeply personal. A couple of times I felt uncomfortable reading it, it was like listening in to someone having a private conversation, and it gets very raw and honest in places and delves deeper than other biographies I’ve read – cycling or otherwise.
A good amount of space is taken up with her childhood and the times riding with her dad and against her brother. I had vague recollections about her brother but these were fleshed out and I felt a little jealous of her seemingly perfect upbringing – that illusion is revisited later in the book.
The time spent training in Switzerland is heart-breaking and something I never expected to read, you do need to read this book, and that section, to understand why I am not even going to try to paraphrase it.
The hugely successful track career feels like a small part of the book, but must take up at least half of it, but it is so well written and detailed without being dull it just flies by. There are ups and downs as with any life, and a love story slowly inveigles it’s way in, but not a soppy love story, one dictated as wrong by the all encompassing evil of British Cycling.
The nearer to the 2012 Olympics we get the more familiar the story becomes, but there are still a couple of curve balls thrown in just to ensure the reader is still awake.
This is one of the best book’s I’ve read – you don’t need to be a cycling fan to be drawn into the story, and it’s one that I think a female audience would empathise with quite deeply, as a man I can understand, but not in the way the fairest gender do.
I would be interested in a volume 2 a few years down the line, looking at what happened post Olympics, the media merry-go-round, etc.