On 23rd June 2004, in a restaurant in Bidart, near Biarritz, David Millar was having dinner with his friend Dave Brailsford when his world came crashing down. He was approached by three plainclothes policemen and arrested for illegal doping. He was finished. The next day he confessed and began to tell his story.
Millar’s book aptly named ‘the fall and rise of David Millar,’ as the book begins with David retelling those very moments of his arrest and the interrogation that followed. He then pours over his life, his childhood as an expat party boy living in Hong Kong, his decision to start cycling and his battle to make it professionally, despite his mother thinking he should go to art school. He then gives epic descriptions of the races and his rise to become one of the greatest cyclists in the world. The whole book and the whole of his life seem to rotate about that one point on the 23rd of June. He then talks about his recovery and candidly about his depression and the mental battles he was facing. Millar brings to light the harsh reality of being a doper and how just taking a few hits can drastically alter your life and you career.
As a boy he hated the doping which seemed so obviously rife in his sport. He battled for it for many years however eventually succumbed to its gravitational pull. He gave into the peer pressure and cycling’s ‘white noise’ drug culture. This book serves as his confession and catharsis. It is through this that the reader is shown an alternate side and the inner psyche of a doper, and of David Millar. It was his passion for the sport that led him to become victimised. This passion seeps from every single page and it left me with a rekindled love for the sport, it has given me inspiration to get out and onto my bike and enter a few races. His passion shows as he is now one of the most influential riders in the peloton and one of my favourite riders. He has seen and done it all and most importantly learned from his mistakes, and the mistakes of the sport.
I think this book would appeal to anyone looking for some cycling inspiration or with a love of professional sport, not just cycling. It is without doubt one of the best sporting memoirs I have ever read. So I am rating it