I received a copy of Easy Rider: My Life on a bike by Rob Hayles, and enjoyed reading it.
It’s the story of a laid back character, who rose from riding the track in Portsmouth to finally coming double world champion in 2005. It’s a reminder that the world of cycling is incredibly competitive, and during a long career, Rob Hayles experienced every emotion from the pain of near misses, the tragi-comic farce of riding at Cofidis to the heights of winning the Madison World title with Mark Cavendish in 2005. If you think the world of a professional cyclist is glamorous, this is quite a revealing insight into the highs and lows of a successful cyclist like Rob Hayles.
By strange co-incidence, our paths crossed at Rob Hayles’ final race – the 2011 national hill climb championship. Throughout the book, Rob Hayles, humorously mentions how he teases the great Sir Chris Hoy about the time he beat Chris Hoy in the Kierin (though Hoy plays along by managing to forget about this race). So, in a similar vein, I could boast – did I tell you the time I beat a double world champion right on his own doorstep? (Let’s not mention the 18kg difference in weight between us.)
Despite Rob’s impressive achievements, he remains fairly modest. Though the book is still an opportunity to get things off his chest – like the disappointments of certain selections, the difficulties of Cofidis, the grumpier side of Bradley Wiggins, the trauma of once having a heamocrit test of over 50% (test has now been scrapped because of it’s unreliability) Perhaps writing the book for Rob was like a tough winter training ride. Hard work when undergoing the ride. But, worth it when you finish.
Rob Hayles in final race
Some things I particularly liked:
- Because I’ve read David Millar’s autobiography – it was interesting to read the story from Hayle’s perspective.
- Reading about the Cofidis years and realising the life of a pro cyclist is far from glamorous.
- I liked the insight into the attitude of Mark Cavendish – expecting to be world champion at his first attempt, aged just 19.
- The experience of Hayles’ first pro race on the continent. Riding right at the back of the bunch desperately trying to hang on, and being unable to believe how hard the racing was.
- The fact his career was a mixture of just missing out, and just making it. Not every cyclist is an Eddy Merckx winning everything they enter.
- An insight into the evolution of British cycling from the days of sharing a skinsuit with a dried out 10 year old leather chamois, to the marginal gains of the Brailsford era.
I would recommend. It’s a good read. It’s not quite the mental rollercoaster of an Obree or David Millar. It’s not the slick success of a Froome or Wiggins. It’s about a hard working cyclist, who despite being a world champion – you can still quite easily relate to.
And did I tell you about the time I beat a double world champion on his home turf?
- Easy Rider: My Life on a bike by Rob Hayles