A Dog in a Hat - Joe Parkin

I think this is a great book. Parkin gives an open account of Euro bike racing in Belgium, without any complaints or excuses. It gives an excellent insight into what that world was like, and a real understanding of what bike racers are going through (likely still today).

Here's an example of a passage where he says what happens, but with no judgement, just that it's how things are:

Over the years I have recounted the stories of selling kermis races, and the response has run from shocked disbelief and anger to fascination. My experience as a pro cyclist in Europe has left me with a somewhat altered moral code, such that many of the things that bother normal people are invisible to me.

Or this one:

By July I couldn't stand to be around most of the team. Cocquyt and I would find our own place to get dressed, away from the rest of the guys. When this wasn't possible and I was forced to interact with my teammates, I was amazed at what I saw. Imagine your favorite sitcom, throw in four or five different dialects, shave 50 points off everyone's IQ so that all conversation is reduced to the basic essentials of life (cares, food, sex, and performance enhancing drugs), and then add some intravenenous and/or subcuraneous drug use and you'll have a good picture or the kermis race dressing room. Of course all the characters in this sitcom were males except when one of the teammates brought his wife or girlfriend in so she could wash him.
The more senior riders in the squad were handing out drugs like candy to the younger guys. If the younger guys had been better riders, this might have been even more deplorable, but these were riders who would only get another contract if there were suddenly a rider shortage. Since they couldn't really help the team, their only redeeming quality was their amusement value. Watching these amped-up idiots bounce off their own selves for part of the race was much-needed comic relief and my compensation for being forced to get dressed with them.

There are many great passages that give real insights in this book, including how to train hard in the way they did before powermeters or heart rate monitors. Basically, they knew what gearing they used over the same training routes.

I completely recommend this book, for bike racers or for anyone interested in the world of bike racing.