Put Me Back On My Bike - In Search Of Tom Simpson
Put Me Back On My Bike tells the story of the most famous of all British cyclists; Tom Simpson. Back in the sixties, no Englishman had made his mark in the world of European cycling. Tom, a young man from an English mining village took a ferry to the continent with nothing more than hope, a few pounds and his bicycle. Within a short space of time he had become one of the greats of his day; winning Classics (the big one-day races) and becoming a serious contender for the Tour de France. When he set off that July morning in 1967 at the start of the most gruelling and demanding of all sporting contests - the Tour de France - he did so with a fierce determination to be crowned champion at the end of the race in Paris. He was not to win, however. In fact, he was not destined to finish the race. A baking hot July day, saw him dying near the summit of Mount Ventoux as the pel0ton rode past to the finish of the stage. Two things led to the death of Tom Simpson. One was his absolute dedication to driving his body to its limits, and then beyond. The other was the fact that his blood was found to contain amphetamines. Did the drugs lead to him literally cycling himself to death as he ignored his body?s deterioration as he forced his way up the fearsome climb to the summit of Mount Ventoux on a hot summer?s day? This is a superb, sensitive, perceptive and intelligent study of its subject. Though Tom Simpson holds a very special place in the history of British cycling, and a special place in the hearts of British cyclists, this is no hagiography which quietly brushes over the drugs issue. Nor is it a simplistic study which concludes that drugs equals cheating equals unworthy sportsman. The author, William Fotheringham, places the issue of drugs in the context of the time (it is easy to forget that the banning of performance enhancing drugs is a relatively recent phenomenon and had only recently become an issue in Tom?s day). Reading this biography will make it clear why today, forty years after his death, cyclists still make the long climb up Mount Ventoux to leave their tributes at his memorial near the summit.