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Book Review - Team 7-Eleven by Geoff Drake w Jim Ochowicz


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via photo.goodreads.com

Team 7-Eleven: How an Unsung Band of American Cyclists Took on the World - and Won

By Geoff Drake with Jim Ochowicz (Amazon Link)

For cycling fans, Team 7-Eleven is an important book because it gives an inside look at how the first major American pro team came to be. Especially because it came to be in some rather unorthodox ways, considering the fact that Jim Ochowicz, something of an outsider in American cycling at the time, put it all together himself from sheer force of will.

Considerable attention is paid to the business side of the organization, securing 7-Eleven sponsorship and how that all came about, but there is a great balance as well with tales of the developing team's shenanigans on and off the bike.

But overall the writing is not great, and the narrative is rather disorganized, so if you don't already have a keen interest in the history of professional cycling, you probably won't find the book terribly engaging. If you're looking for a book to give to a friend to get them interested in pro cycling, this one probably won't do much to help.

That said, the section describing the epic Gavia stage of the 1988 Giro d'Italia - when riders were forced to climb and DESCEND in freezing, driving snow - is an absolutely thrilling read. The preparations that the team went through, that Andy Hampsten went through to secure his Giro win that day, is super interesting, as is learning about Bob Roll's innovative way to stay warm and alive on the treacherous descent (screaming at the top of his lungs all the way down).

If you're unfamiliar with it watch the first minute of THIS video:

Passo di Gavia 1988 (via timdevries1)

By far the biggest drawback to this book, though, is the light reporting that leaves so many holes unexplored. It's missing riders' voices. We don't have any quotes or first-hand impressions from Andy Hampsten, Bob Roll, Eric Heiden or many of the other protagonists of this young team. Obviously the whole story would have a lot more impact if were told more through the riders' voices themselves.

Still, it's a quick and interesting read that's worth your time, but maybe not worth your money. Check with your local library before going to Amazon.

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