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The Race Against Time – Edward Pickering
Book Reviewed by Nigel Scales

I approached this book as something I OUGHT to read rather than
something that excited and intrigued me – a bit like grimly sitting down to
plough your way through some Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Voltaire or Von
Clausewitz because it’s serious literature/writing and therefore must be
experienced, or in this case it’s about a historic era in British cycling and
therefore one that commands the due respect of reading any work published
about it. Which is, of course, a reasonable view. (Did you notice, by the way,
how I subtly manipulated you into awarding me literary brownie points by
implying I’d read Dostoevsky, Tolstoy etc. (not the case) without actually
falsely stating that I had… On the other hand, before you get too cocky I
do like Voltaire, in the original French or in translation, and Von Clausewitz’s
“Vom Krieg” (“On War”) is an admirably succinct work which includes the
practical observation that war is the continuation of politics by other
means– there’s the underlying thought that it’s a means that you shouldn’t
be too keen to use, something politicians could helpfully keep in mind.)

Back to the book – for those who don’t know, the subject is the rivalry
between Graeme Obree and Chris Boardman In time-trials, pursuit races
and the Hour Record but taking in their forays into road-racing and putting
a lot of context into the pretty well-known basic storyline. As I explained,
I approached it as a worthy chore, but I found that I couldn’t put it down.
Perhaps for those who were closer to the sport at the time, and reading
Cycling Weekly etc. regularly, much of the material wouldn’t come as a
surprise – for example I was ignorant of Boardman’s stage-racing palmares,
I suspect many of you would have been well aware of them. Perhaps you
also knew his middle name was Miles. (A bit of an irony really, given that
his international performances were measured in kilometres.) Older members
may remember that Chris’s father, Keith Boardman “won a bit”, once placing

4 in the National 50 TT Championship and being long-listed for the 1964
Tokyo Olympics. At age 13, young Chris rode 29.43 for his first 10, improving
to 25.25 by the end of that season. At 14, he won the Southport Road CC

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