Published by Lyn on 18 November 2012
Julia Stagg has lots of good things to say about My Time the new autobiography of 2012 Tour de France winner, Bradley Wiggins.
Laconic. Reserved. Frank. At first reading, the adjectives used to describe the man himself could well be applied to Wiggins’ latest book, My Time. It opens with an account of his terrible year on the bike in 2010 and, in all truthfulness, I found it slow going. It stuttered. It rambled in places. There was the odd nugget of insight but, on the whole, it felt superficial, the real cyclist remaining elusive as he has done for many an interviewer. Which is perhaps the problem as the book was written with cycling journalist William Fotheringham, author of Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike and Put Me Back On My Bike: In Search of Tom Simpson, among others. With the Wiggins book, it's as if he's finding his feet in the opening pages, more with the subject than the subject matter.
By the second section, though, which starts with the beginning of the 2012 season, Wiggins has found his stride and he begins to open up. Alongside breathtaking descriptions of his victories that year – so many that one is inclined to forget the Paris-Nice win and the Dauphiné triumph – he details the changes taking place within his Sky cycling team, the new approaches to training, and the shift in mindset that was fundamental to his success. And it is fascinating reading.
But what makes the book special for me is the love of cycling that comes through. His passion for the sport, for its history, his awareness of where he stands in the pantheon of Lycra-clad heroes, and his inability to truly comprehend his achievements all come across in waves. And in typical Wiggins fashion, he doesn’t dodge the difficult bits. He talks openly about the latest drugs scandal and the unwelcome role of moral enforcer which has been forced onto him by his newfound standing as Tour winner.
He also discusses the infamous incident with his teammate Chris Froome on stage 11 of the 2012 Tour in a chapter conspicuously entitled 'Under Attack'. And his opinions are searingly honest.
So My Time is what you would expect from an enigmatic man who has become a modern-day hero, taking on a mantle tarnished by his predecessors and somehow making it shine again. It’s elusive in parts, brutally honest in others and, once it gets going, it’s an informative and entertaining read. And, as for style, take off the jacket and you will see that even in the design, the publishers knew the person they were dealing with. Simple. Straightforward. And packing a punch. A perfect treat for any cycling fan this Christmas.
Julia Stagg writes fiction set in the Ariège region of the French Pyrenees, an area she discovered through her passion for cycling. Her latest novel, The French Postmistress (UK, US, Fr), is the third in the Fogas Chronicles. It is published by Hodder and Stoughton – it even has a bike on the cover!