“That’s not writing, that’s typing” - Truman Capote

The Long Season by Bruno Schull, 2002.

Short version: Don’t bother, just grieve for the murdered trees.

Long version: Is Breakaway Books a vanity publishing house? Did Bruno Schull pay cash money for this book to see the light of day? The Long Season chronicles one man’s attempt, while living in the Bay Area, to upgrade from a Cat. 3 to a Cat. 2. Taking place in 1995 while enrolled at UC Berkeley (?), the author simultaneously gives a running chronicle of the entire Euro pro season from early Spring ’til late Fall. If this book was published soon after the 1995 season, say, 1996 (in pre-blog explosion times), then maybe it would be a wee bit more fresh or novel, but everything the author tries to describe concerning the inner world of competitive cycling is done so much better by any of the blogs I have links to on this site. Race tactics, personal heartbreak, the majesty of pedalling a bike, humorous anecdotes while travelling, humorous anecdotes from within the peloton, or simply a compelling narrative are out there for anyone with internet access. If you’re feeling really adventurous then track down Bill Innes’s accounts of his life as a Cat. 1, particularly the Euro sessions. Those are still my favorite accounts of someone in pursuit of the $12k Dream. Use the Wayback Machine or check out his more recent stuff on racelistings.com. Life of a struggling Cat. 3 = YAWN. Even the little sex scene with his soon to be ex-girlfriend Anne = YAWN (I’m sure she was psyched that information was made public).

One glimmer of hope in Schull’s writing concerned Schull’s dealings with his parents. I felt sorry for him because he had absolutely no support, either mentally or financially, just puzzlement and criticism. I’m sure this is something all too many aspiring cyclists hear once they graduate from college, or hell, even when they graduate from high school, “When are you going to quit this stupid hobby and get on with your life”. It’s no wonder that cycling has no repect as a lifelong passion since most people’s bicycle experiences involve seeing them sold in the toy departments of uber-retail chains. Reading Schull’s interaction with his family, and later even his girlfriend, does wonders to reinforce how lucky I’ve been throught 23 years of racing having supportive parents and an enthusiastic spouse. While Schull’s personal story may have had some episodic flickers of promise, his tediously detailed accounts of Euro pro races were mind-bogglingly gratuitous. Just watch the 1995 Paris-Roubaix or Tour de France videos and spare yourself the pedestrian narration. I’m sure that’s how he did it because there’s no way in hell he grokked so much information about the races from watching them in bars like he claimed. All in all, this book probably should have been condensed into a long lifestyle article that shows up in magazines like Men’s Health, Outside, or Bicycling.

Do you know what story I’d like to hear? I wish I was a fly on the wall for RAGT’s current Tour de France escapades. I want to read one of those riders describing what it’s like hanging on for dear life, finishing in the autobus on every mountain stage, and what kind of grim conversations took place before, during, and after each stage between the riders and the management. That’s gratuitous gallows humor I’d gladly ingest. Along the lines of hapless, overwhelmed Tour teams, one book which I’ve longed to read and have yet to track down due to it being ages out of print is Jeff Connor’s Wide Eyed and Legless, a journalist’s account of travelling with the low budget English team ANC-Halfords during the 1987 Tour de France. I believe Jeff Connor actually tried to ride a Tour stage incognito in ANC-Halfords kit to get the full Tour de France experience. Now that’s some funny shit.

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