Book Reviews

The Flying Scotsman: The Graeme Obree Story by Graeme Obree

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List Price: £8.99


Paperback: 288 Pages.

Published: 01 September 2004 by Birlinn Ltd

ISBN: 1841583359

EAN: 9781841583358

Graeme Obree's story begins with a tough upbringing in the Ayrshire valleys, where he found his escape by taking to the roads on his bike. He would emerge from total obscurity to smash Francesco Moser's World Hour Record, controversy hard at his heels for his unique riding style and pioneering construction techniques - famously using parts from a washing machine to build his bike, 'Old Faithful'. But amidst the record attempts, media feeding frenzy and thrilling head-to-head duels with Chris Boardman, Graeme was fighting another battle. With searing honesty, he recounts his biggest battle against depression which drove him to attempt suicide.


4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Anne

It's not all fun at the top

Graeme Obree's cyling autobiography is an unusual one. He's not the product of a well funded system and he had to use his own money to make a success in the sport. Finding that he had only his talent to earn money he made a lot of his own cycles and had to find personal sponsorship. His stunning success on the track and the records he broke are as a result of his own hard work.

A lot of this is because of nationality and class. Obree is a working class Scotsman who didn't fit into the cycling fraternity well. Much of this could have been because of his backgound but it does become very evident during the book that his own attitude probably didn't help. He seems always to have been at odds with the governing bodies of the sport and to have had personal problems with a lot of the other top cyclists. Although the narrative makes it clear that he thinks that he was always in the right you can easily see how his attitude would have annoyed others.

The other aspect of Obree's story is his severe depression. It is clear that from the very beginning of his life he has not felt that he fitted in and he has struggled to remain motivated. In his time and place depression was not a diognosis that he could easily have obtained so he had to fight his own mental state as well the physical challenges of the sport.

This is a fascinating book about a man who achieved great things, fighting through much difficulty to get there. It is obvious that he has written this book himself without much in the way of polishing from anyone else and there are times when he does seem repetitive and a bit whiney. It is worth persevering, however, as Obree's story is a unique one and makes an interesting contrast to that of the better known successful cyclists.

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