Draft Animals by Phil Gaimon

Draft Animals

Phil Gaimon

Draft Animals reveals a story as much about bike racing as it is about the never-ending ladder of achieving goals, failure, and finding happiness if you land somewhere in-between.


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From the author of the cult favorite Pro Cycling on $10 a Day and Ask a Pro, the story of one man’s quest to realize his childhood dream, and what happened when he actually did it.
Like countless other kids, Phil Gaimon grew up dreaming of being a professional athlete. But unlike countless other kids, he actually pulled it off. After years of amateur races, hard training, living out of a suitcase, and never taking “no” for an answer, he finally achieved his goal and signed a contract to race professionally on one of the best teams in the world.

Now, Gaimon pulls back the curtain on the WorldTour, cycling’s highest level. He takes readers along for his seasons in Europe, covering everything from rabid, water-bottle-stealing Belgian fans, to contract renewals, to riding in poisonous smog, to making friends in a sport plagued by doping. Draft Animals reveals a story as much about bike racing as it is about the never-ending ladder of achieving goals, failure, and finding happiness if you land somewhere in-between.

Advance Galley Reviews

I've been following cycling since I was young thanks to my parents. Some of my favorite memories are of waking up in the summer and piling on the couch to watch the days stage from the Tour de France. There's something so effortlessly comforting to me about watching a peloton snake down a road, which sounds so so weird but It's true and I stand by it. I really enjoyed this book no thanks to my previous love for cycling but I also don't think you need to be any kind of fanatic to get something out of it. I didn't learn any shocking new info but It's fun to read about things you're actually interested in.

Interesting read. I’ve always wanted to get into bicycling and this opened up my thirst for it even more. Great book!

As someone who follows bike racing like most Americans (watches the Tour de France every year), this was a fascinating look behind the scenes. I really enjoyed Phil's writing style, and his bare-everything approach to sharing the professional cycling world. I always knew the cycling was hard, and didn't realize how hard the day-to-day living as a professional bike racer really is. I feel like their should be a GoFundMe page for American professional bikers. I'd even be willing to send them a few bucks to make their lives a little easier. If you've ever enjoyed the glamour of pro-cycling, I strongly recommend this book, and see how much blood sweat and tears goes into achieving those moments of glamour.

I enjoyed every minute of Phil Gaimon's ride of a book. Maybe it helped that I'd just returned from bicycling the Camino de Santiago in Spain, where one day we rode over the road that Vuelta racers had ridden three days before. "Gracias Alberto" and "Nibali" and "Froome" were still chalked in life-sized letters on the pavement. In this cycling memoir, the author employs a winning ratio of humility and bravura. The book succeeds because of Gaimon's voice, his candor, his practiced story-telling, and his comedic timing. It manages to serve as pro cycling exposé, inspirational memoir, and brutally honest portrayal of pro cycling's version of "living the dream." I'll be buying it to pass along to my husband and other cycling fan friends.

Although I have followed pro cycling somewhat over the past 20-30 years, I had never heard of Phil Gaimon before picking up this book. In my view, pro cycling had long been a fight among who was best at hiding their illegal doping efforts, which made the classic bike races (e.g. le Tour de France and Vuelta a Espagna) a lot less interesting than if they were fought on clean terms. Earlier this summer, I bought my own first road bike, which is probably the main reason I decided to read this book by and about clean pro road cyclist. Gaimon is no doubt a gifted road cyclist, but he is also a very entertaining writer, and he had me smiling, chuckling or outright laughing throughout most of the book. He doesn't sugarcoat the life of the pro road cyclist struggling to obtain or hold on to the revered contract as a World Tour pro, and I was truly surprised by how little money many of the lesser known cyclists on the World Tour make, despite their importance for the success of the household name cyclists such as Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan. As someone new to cycling world, it was also quite liberating that much of the chatter on the pro tour team busses before a race deals with how much and which clothes to wear in order to balance the weather optimally - short or long sleeve jersey, baselayer underneath or not, yellow or smoke lenses on the glasses etc. Well, summing up, I simply loved this book about a gifted and dedicated athlete, and I recommend it to all readers interested in a look behind the scenes of a pro sport. With this brilliantly funny and honest insider's account, you will get many laughs and surprising insights, and I hope that there are many other honest riders like Phil Gaimon in pro cycling today.

I really enjoyed this 'insider's look' into the sport of professional cycling. Gaimon tells of aspects of the cycling world that the average viewer of the Tour de France probably doesn't think about or realize, like all the travel, the nutrition aspect, dangerous roads/routes, inside jokes, relationship/rivalry aspects, team player roles, & the 'doping' of the sport. It's written in the first person account & is easily readable, following Gaimon's career from beginning to end. It is kind of a 'no holds barred' narrative, & at the end I felt a bit of a 'sour grapes-ish' bend...which I didn't think did the book any justice to end that way. I really enjoy watching races like the Tour de France & enjoyed reading/hearing of some of the celebrity names of that racing world. I may even look up Gaimon's previous works! So, I'd say that ends up to be a pretty good review! I was awarded this ARC in a Penguin First-To-Read giveaway program, simply in return for my own fair & honest review. All opinions here are my own.

A firsthand look into the pro-cycling world that is at times hilarious. I thought it was especially interesting to hear about what it's like to race clean in a (mostly) post-doping sport. After the first half however, I had a hard time remaining engaged since the insights were exclusively about cyclists I was unfamiliar with and there were more references to the author's genitalia than I cared for. Use of specific names of people who had offended the author seemed unfortunate. Those involved in competitive cycling will have more appreciation for this.

This book is not for the faint of heart. An interesting story about cycling, what it means to be in the field, and all the stories in between. A good read!

This book provides a journey through a sport I had long been interested in, but could not get a foothold to understanding. In the age of post-Armstrong stories occupying a monopoly on the perception of professional cycling, this book digs deeper than that issue. The book is a fascinating read.

When I first picked up Draft Animals, I expected it to be enjoyable on a niche level, for guys like me who like to pretend they're leading a breakaway on the Tour de France, when really, we're just huffing and puffing and trying to lose weight at a quarter of the speed of the pros. And while this book did satisfy the cycling nut in me, it worked on many other levels as well. I've always said David Sedaris was the only author who ever made me laugh out loud while reading, and that was only twice. With this book, Phil Gaimon became the second, and he made me laugh at least twice a chapter, sometimes twice a page. I often had to pause my reading, just so I could relay the latest quip or anecdote to whoever happened to be nearby. Draft Animals gives a raw, unpolished look at life inside of cycling's most elite circles, as well from the outside trying to get in. Gaimon pulls no punches, instead offering his candid assessment of cyclists, directors, coaches, events and even the sport itself. No one is spared from his unflinching honesty, including himself. Gaimon takes us through his struggles to break into, stay in and get back to the top ranks of competitive cycling, sharing the obstacles he faced, the sacrifices he made, and the impact on his personal life. And yet, somewhere in the narrative, the book transforms into more than a look at professional cycling, more than a story about sport. Somewhere along the way, what begins as a book about how a man becomes a professional cyclist instead becomes a story about how a professional cyclist becomes a man. Throughout that tale, Gaimon keeps us laughing with sophomoric puns and stunts, yet leaves us with unexpected wisdom about the dreams we chase and the realities we find.

Phil Gaimon had a dream--to ride a bike professionally in the highest level. And he made it, after extreme dieting, and even more extreme exercise, painful loses, crashes, and dealing with other rider's doping (and later dealing with whether or not to make friends with people who had doped.) It's so much work, but there isn't really the pay off he'd hoped for. I enjoyed how honest Phil was. Especially as he struggled to deal with the doping--could he like someone who had doped in the past? Could he trust that someone was clean now? Sometimes he hated his competitors, team mates, or various managers, coaches, etc. Sometimes he wanted to hate someone, and couldn't. There's a bit more jokes involving body parts and bodily fluids (the cyclists don't get bathroom breaks on some races!) than I enjoy, but there are also some insightful moments about the true value of working for an unlikely goal. And some wonderful descriptions of what drives people like Phil Gaimon. There has to be something to get them through the pain, and it's not a drive everyone has, I think. The end is a little deflating, but when you're talking about real life, that's how it goes sometimes. He still draws that part of his life to a conclusion, and it works. If you're curious at a behind the scenes peek into professional cycling, this is a story with humor, a sense of honesty, passion, and some unforgettable imagery.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Having been a recreational rider for many years of my adult life, this book interested me and I was anxious to read it. I've watched racers and their common draft lines, have even participated on occasion. I understand the need to train and that it's "just something you do" to reach the next goal. I enjoyed the easy, friendly, humorous, and uplifting writing style. The insight into the effects of doping on pro athletes and it's effects on those who choose not to partake was interesting and still leaves a black cloud over cycling. I enjoyed the honesty and anecdotes about the period that the author participated in the sport as a pro. Commitment to a sport consumes your life and this book shows that there are good times and bad to be had along the journey. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the sport of cycling or anyone contemplating a pro career in nearly any sport.

"One of you tested positive." I received a copy of this ebook from firsttoread.com in exchange for an honest review. This is the first book by Phil Gaimon I've read and while I enjoyed it I felt like throughout the book I thought something was missing. He shares information about riding and documents his journey as a professional writer. He names names and calls out people who he felt mistreated by throughout his races. He shares anecdotes and jokes and the high and low of his rides. He talks briefly about his personal life and the loss of one of his parents but it still felt strangely superficial as I read it. Perhaps it's the writing style that felt passive as he talks about the things he did or how races went but it wasn't quite my jam. It's an interesting look at the world of professional cycling and how athletes are treated.

I was randomly selected for this book. This memoir was a good description of what a professional athletes life was like. Gaimon didn't sugarcoat his life and didn't make it seem all wonderful. He wrote of his ups and downs dealing with everyday life while traing for cycling events. He even went into all the gory details of the accidents he went through. Anyone who has suffered from road rash is familiar with this. A book of this nature should be given to young athletes who aren't sure about their futures. By reading this book they can get an insight at to what it takes to move forward in whatever path is chosen.

I'm not a big non-fiction reader, but as a big fan of professional cycling, I loved this book. Having read Gaimon's first 2 books, I had high expectations and I was not at all disappointed. It roughly picks up where 'Pro Cycling on $10 a Day" leaves off, and provides an insider, behind the scenes glimpse of what it's really like to be in the pro peloton - the good and bad. The recounting of his time as a cyclist is honest, hilarious, and holds some true lessons that go beyond cycling. I really appreciated the fact that he put his English degree to good use and wrote the book himself (rather than hire a ghostwriter like many others).


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