A promise to his daughter impels the author to revisit his horrific childhood.
It seems natural for cycling writer Strickland to use his bike as the metaphorical basis for a book about struggling to overcome memories of abuse by his father while trying to become the perfect husband and parent himself, even if the connection isn’t always as smooth as the gear-shifting on his $5,000 carbon bicycle. The narrative centers on his quest to obtain ten points in the Thursday Night Crit, a weekly 30-mile race that offered professional and top-flight amateur riders the opportunity to earn points during periodic sprint laps. After classifying the task as “impossible” to his preschool daughter, he set out to prove to her that nothing is impossible if you truly believe in it. Strickland’s marathon training sessions and continual near-misses in the Crit serve as windows through which to examine his relationship with an abusive father and the constant fear that he might become the same. The author unflinchingly describes gut-wrenching moments like the time his father forced him to eat feces at gunpoint. Transitions between these memories and the highly dramatized bike races (whose nuances may be lost on readers unfamiliar with cycling) are occasionally jarring, but the author manages to create sufficient tension even for those who don’t know Lance Armstrong from Lance Bass.
Uncomfortable, but ultimately satisfying.