I had been racing, and thinking only about that. I was getting better, but I was also feeling the limits of what I did. My life had become smaller. I prohibited myself from many things, set myself in a limited pattern of thinking. It is perhaps obvious in hindsight, but obsession does not give you more, but less. I had the routines and the inflexibility of someone already old.
I'm in DC this week, so I went to Busboys and Poets last night to eat dinner and finish Joe Mungo Reed's debut novel, We Begin Our Ascent. I picked this up from Content Bookstore last week because I felt like reading a "sports book." Reviewers have compared We Begin Our Ascent to some of the best in this genre: The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach), Running with the Buffaloes (Chris Lear), etc. While there were parts of Reed's debut that I loved, I was generally disappointed (I don't think it's nearly as good as the two books mentioned above-- I love Harbach and Lear). We Begin Our Ascent is primarily about (1) how doping affects an athlete's "soul" and (2) how doping affects an athlete's marriage. I was underwhelmed with the way Reed handled both topics. The cycling scenes were tedious and could have been better done with less repetition and more of a narrative arc. Perhaps it's the nature of the Tour de France that bores me: cycling, eating, cycling, sleeping, doping, eating, more cycling. It doesn't have the arc of a normal race. Instead, there are all these "stages" and the entire thing seems endless (like, way more boring than a marathon could ever be). Lastly, I never really bought in to Liz and Sol's relationship. The marriage never came to life for me. Early on, I decided that Sol was vaguely annoying. Then, I hoped Liz would save the book for me, but she ended up being irritating/purposeless too. I had a hard time figuring out the characters' motivations here.
Perhaps if you're a cyclist, you'll love this book. There are some nice quotes. It's not terrible. I'll be interested to hear if it becomes a more popular read this winter.