Pillow talk (part 2)

Here's another book — on cycling, of course — that's become a part of my growing library here in Hallowell, Maine.



"One Way Ticket ... Nine Lives on Two Wheels" by Jonathan Vaughters (Quercus, 2019)


In a nutshell, Jonathan Vaughters wasn't very good at most sports, he was kind of on the shy side, and he endured much bullying growing up because of others' misguided perception of his lifestyle — and because of his oversized ears. But then the Coloradan discovered the bicycle and its benefits of freedom, namely having the ability of wander far from home and, more importantly, away from people.


Also, it turns out, he was very good on two wheels right from an early age. The book describes his development as a bike racer, competing in the United States, and then his determination and obsession to make it big in Europe — at almost any cost.


And the price he ended up paying, and what makes "One Way Ticket" worth reading, involved doping. Almost immediately, despite his success here at home and his abundant talent, Vaughters struggled to hang on to the back of the peloton — not even close to the front — and it took a ton of effort just to survive against the boys on the Continent.


He needed an edge, which was pretty much the prevailing attitude of most cyclists at the time. As Vaughters said in the book, "Unless a rider was a first-year professional, by 1996, if you raced a Grand Tour, you were almost certain to be using EPO (erythropoietin)."


So Vaughters ended up right in the middle of it all; even as a teammate of Lance Armstrong on the United States Postal Service squad. Suffice it to say, Vaughters knew it was wrong to use drugs, but his desire to continue living the dream as a pro bike racer was just too strong.


In the end, he finally had enough of racing — and doping. And since that moment of clarity, even now as the CEO of the WorldTour pro cycling team EF Education-NIPPO, Vaughters has done everything in his power to make the sport "clean," or at least make it as level and fair as possible for everyone.


On the back jacket of the book there is a quote from Armstrong. It says, "You're one of us now, JV. ... This is the boys' club — we all have dirt on each other, so don't go write a book about this shit." I, for one, am certainly glad he did. If you get a chance, check it out.


What a year!


Drum roll, please. Mileage-wise, 2020 was quite a year on my bicycles, and I utilized all seven of them — three road machines, one cyclocross/gravel, one mountain, one fat, and my newest, the adventure model.


For the season, I ended up with a total of 6,638 miles. My previous high was 5,224 miles in 2015. A difference of 1,414.


For all of 2020, I jumped on a bike 276 days out of a total of 366, it being a leap year. Here's how many days of cycling I missed for each month: January — 10, February — 19, March — 6, April — 5, May — 5, June — 4, July — 3, August — 2, September — 4, October — 10, November — 10, and December — 12. February was a bust because I came down with the dreaded flu.


Jon, my good friend and most frequent riding mate, finished the 2020 season with 5,786 miles, with his previous best being 5,500. So he had an outstanding year, as well.


Anyway, today is the first day of 2021. The weather forecast calls for sunny skies, with a high temperature of 34 degrees. So I guess I'll go for a ride and start all over again ... at zero. Stay safe!

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