This book, “A Peiper’s Tale” is Allan Peiper’s story. It’s a little different from the usual sports biography: it’s clear that Allan is a sensitive, thoughtful, somewhat spiritual bloke, who spends a lot of time trying to get through life in the best way possible, whilst looking after others (he’s currently working as a Team Director for the Lotto – Davitamon Pro cycling team), and usually putting himself further down his priority list than most other folk would.
The book does detail his early days though, and I found these sections particularly interesting, partly because he talks about riders who I idolised in my youth, guys like Allan himself, Robert Millar, Eddy Plankaert and Bernard Hinault, and partly because they do help to explain why such a mild mannered and gentle man was able to draw on his inner anger and have a very successful and worthy career as a pro bike rider.
Allan admits to dabbling a little in primitive amphetamines a couple of times, but explains that the ethos at that time was of children eating sweeties in class behind the teacher’s back, whereas nowadays, with the money involved in professional sport, any cheating is viewed more in the context of sporting fraud.
The reader can forgive Allan because he was simply doing what most of the others were doing, albeit he appears to be “kitting up” to a far lesser extent than most.
The double dealings and buying and selling of races are discussed (this is all part and parcel of pro cycling), as is his relationships with his managers and directors, and other riders.
The book is organised into chapters with each one concentrating on various characters (some very famous) that Allan knew and worked alongside – it’s an unusual format, but it really does work.
The format means that the story leaps around chronologically quite a lot, but that just makes the book more enjoyable and less of a straightforward progression through his life – he adds his views and perceptions on every page, and his descriptions never lean towards sensationalism, yet his experiences with the various characters in the sport are enthralling.
A thoroughly enjoyable read by a very likeable, honest bloke.
Pick something else from the Bookshelf.