As a child growing up in Australia, Allan Peiper never knew where home was.
The son of an alcoholic and abusive father, and a mother who chose him rather than her son, Peiper found that the only thing that didn't let him down was his bike.
Eventually cycling became his escape when, as a 16 year old, he took the extraordinary step of leaving his shattered family and moving by himself to Belgium with the idea of becoming a professional cyclist.
In this book he tells of the new world and culture he discovered, as he fought prejudice and deceit, made friends and won races on the way to riding the Tour de France and becoming one of the most respected professional riders of the 1980s. Cycling became Peiper's new family, and each chapter revolves around one of the many, varied and colourful characters he met, raced with, and sometimes had to fight against - men like Jan 'the papers' who gave him his first accommodation in a run-down Ghent boarding house; Peter Post who ruled the Panasonic team with a rod of iron; Eddy Planckaert, the youngest of the Flandrian cycling dynasty; Robert Millar, Britain's most successful ever stage racer; and the legendary fellow-Aussie, Phil Anderson, and many others.
Eventually, he had done that all he could do in the sport, and then, as Peiper says: 'The rooster came home.' Life as a professional cyclist is hard, but for many, life afterwards is even harder, and it is something very rarely talked about.
Typically, though, Peiper relates this part of life as freely and lucidly as he does the drama of racing.
He had bad times and good and, in common with many ex-professional sportsmen, it has taken years to readjust.
Now he is back in the sport as a director of one of cycling's biggest teams, and bringing his own brand of humour and humanity to the job. It's all in this book - cycling from the saddle and from the team car, and all the trials and tribulations in between.
Peiper talks freely about every aspect of his life, and every aspect of professional cycling, a sport whose ethics do not always fit in with the Corinthian ideas of how the game should be played.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 175 pages, 8 b&w & 4colour plates
- Publisher: Mousehold Press
- Publication Date: 16/10/2005
- Category: Autobiography: sport
- ISBN: 9781874739395