‘Faster’, by Michael Hutchinson

August 6, 2014

An insight into how, and why, the top 1% of the 1% are faster than the rest of us.

'Faster', by Michael Hutchinson
All good bookshops
by Greg May for about ten cups of coffee

As a mouse-wielding sports scientist with an array of confusing letters after my name, I got the task of the cycling book review. No sexy metal for you m’lad, have a book. Just like Christmas. But, I digress.

Beverage not included.

I’ve spent a chunk of time reading and researching high performance cycling at university, but what I’d always found were that the books were a bit dry.

Full of facts and figures, pretty low on ease of reading or entertainment. Here is where Faster is different. First off, there’s not a single graph, picture, or Venn diagram. The book is a mixture of eloquently written evidence, interview snippets and anecdotes from the world of high performance cycling. Contained in a self-deprecating wrapper of humour.

Hutchinson has an amazing ability to put his, not unremarkable, cycling prowess down at every opportunity, while using it to highlight how much better the best are. Touching on the psychology, habit, diet, training and genetic makeup of athletes, Faster gives an invaluable insight into why the elite are the most elite. Without even pretending that we’ve got a chance to get there.

While the book is primarily focused on our skinny tyre brethren, the topics discussed can equally be applied to the mountain bike elite: our Steve Peats, Anne-Caroline Chaussons, Hans Rays and Annie Lasts. Elite is elite, no matter what bicycle you put it on. Faster is an insight into the realm of marginal gains summed up by a single quote: “It’s a waste of time drinking organic cherry juice if you’re using it to wash down a Big Mac.” Obvious, but how many of us really think about every little detail? What this book tells us is that to get faster, you have to.

Overall: What this book is not: A guide on how to get, or go, faster on a bike.
What this book is: An insight into how, and why, the top 1% of the 1% are faster than the rest of us.

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