The Most Individual of Individual Sports

The Tour de France starts on Independence Day this year, which is fitting because most racing cyclists I've known tend to be on the fiercely independent side. Not too sure why this is: might be the hours of riding a bike alone, or being mocked for shaving their legs and wearing spandex. Whatever the reason, the racing cyclist (amateur or professional) will generally be an individual's individual, and probably doesn't care what you think—in a good way.

Oh, I could go on blathering about the best books about Le Tour, but you're probably better off perusing this list of bicycle racing reads.

No. In the grand spirit of individuality, let's take a closer look at some of the cyclists who decided to go their own way: 

A Dog in A Hat: This is a good book! Joe Parkin shares his experiences as an American professional bicycle racer making his way in Europe. Joe could've stayed in North America and taken a relatively easy career path, but he decided to take his chances in Belgium as a professional cyclist.

The Flying Scotsman: This film is based on Graeme Obree's attempt to break the hour record (which, as of this posting, has been set at 54.526km (33.88 miles) by Sir Bradley Wiggins).  Obree takes the individual approach to extremes by designing and building his own bicycle (a DIY maker before it was cool). Obree confronts his personal demons along the way.

Racing Through the Dark: David Millar tells his story of life as a pro cyclist: the highs and lows, the drugs, team doctors, clandestine training camps in the hills of Tuscany—the necessary "preparation" for major events, and ultimately the path toward personal redemption in a sport struggling to shed its drug-tarnished image.

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