A Dog in a Hat
An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium
by Joe Parkin
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A Dog in a Hat is the remarkable story of Joe Parkin. In 1987, Parkin left the comforts of home to become a bike racer in Belgium, the hardest place in the world to be a bike racer. As one of the first American pros in Europe, Parkin was what the Belgians call “a dog with a hat on” — something familiar, yet decidedly out of place.
Parkin's memoir reads like a novel. In plainspoken and fast-paced prose, Parkin describes the true life of the professional bike racer, putting the reader into the whirlwind of this hardest of athletic educations. A Dog in a Hat begins with Parkin's terrifying first visit to his team doctor, where he is strapped to a table and monitored by humming electrodes as men in white lab coats coldly divine his future as a pro.
Parkin's story is honest. A Dog in a Hat celebrates the glory of bike racing, but Parkin thrillingly tells the hard reality of the life—the drugs, the payoffs, the betrayals by teammates, the battles with team owners for contracts and money, the endless promises that keep you going, and the rider's sheer physical agony of racing day after day.
Despite the pain, despite the suffering, A Dog in a Hat is a beautiful book. It is one American’s story of his love affair with professional cycling, set in the hardest place in the world to be a bike racer. It is a story untold until now, and one that Parkin’s readers will never forget.
- VeloPress, August 2008
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