hudson music usa now offer digital downloads of many of their drum instruction videos, and i have taken advantage of their magnanimity at a lowered price. on tuesday eve i discovered instruction by drummer jo jo mayer on how to develop a rather frightening speed with one hand that, taken to its ultimate conclusion after mountains of practice, can lead to a one-handed roll. not necessarily a great deal of use in scottish ceilidh music, but certainly worth the bragging rights it would provide upon successful display. while the bathwater was running last night, i gave some time to this relatively simple sticking technique, and had still the end result in mind as i climbed into the bath.
i do a great deal of reading in the bath, and conduct many hours of book reviewing in such a manner. last night it was the latter chapters of steve joughin's pocket rocket. it is, i believe, testament to the absorbing nature of this slim volume, that i only remembered about jo jo mayer's one-handed roll on reaching the breakfast table this morning.
born in 1959 in that hotbed of cycling nearest to the british isles, home also to the current darling of the weekly and monthlies, mark cavendish, steve joughin comes from douglas on the isle of man and, by his own account, had little in the way of character traits to recommend him during his formative years. since the isle of man is hardly the largest property in the irish sea, it was hard to avoid its obsession with both forms of two-wheeled competition, that of motorcycles and bicycles. the latter attracted the teenage steve joughin away from his increasing delinquency, that he himself states would likely have led to more serious punishment than that of a good talking to. at that time, application of the birch was still a legal form of punishment in the manx kingdom.
as with many a domestic amateur, the realisation dawned that in order to enjoy a successful professional career, the european continent would need to be breached. some took to this considerable change of pace like a duck to water; to others, like joughin, it was a ferry trip too far, and in order to fulfil the professional dream, it was down to riding in a jersey proclaiming the benefits of a particular brand of air handling.
now retired and proprietor, along with his son ben, of pro vision cycle clothing, some considerable time has passed between joughin's retirement from a successful domestic professional career and the appearance of this autobiography; almost twenty years in fact, though it may well be the profile of other isle of man riders that has presented the opportunity or confidence to relate the story of his career. i only became aware of the pocket rocket around the time of channel four's televising of those kelloggs city centre criteriums in the 1980s, a style of racing at which a sprinter like joughin seemed to excel. it is interesting to note that joughin was a contemporary of robert millar, stephen roche and sean kelly, yet his profile, confined to the british isles, is dominated by those contemporaries.
played by actress alyson hannigan, the character michelle flaherty in the american pie series of movies was ostensibly the straight-laced, goody two shoes who was a prototype nerd; a part of the american school band culture. this led to a number of scenes where conversation with male members of the cast would commence with 'one time, in band camp..., and continue on to relate an anecdote, the point of which would often be lost on those with which she was conversing.
joughin, as a writer, has much in common with alyson hannigan's character. the book is full of brief introductions to joughins peers or team-mates, followed by an almost inevitable i remember one time... or as it turned out... the frequency of which somehow lets him down, lending the impression that we are reading a series of tenuously connected anecdotes, rather than a serious attempt at encapsulating a life and a career. while his initial foray, in 1984, into the world of paid professionals is recounted as far as his early wins as a pro, the next three years seem to have vanished on an imaginary cutting room floor.
this may not be the most literary of works, and i often feel that biographies are more rewarding than autobiographies, if only because there is a greater degree of separation and dispassion by the author of the former, but steve joughin has done little, if anything, to hide the real cyclist behind the words. some of his assertions may be contentious at best, but there's no denying the character that forms a central part of british cycling history.
unfortunately, for reasons i do not understand, this does not seem a complete biography; there are a number of sections seemingly glossed over, while others receive more attention than you might think they deserve. but i fear this may be more to do with the art of writing or recollection than an attempt to pervert the course of justice, if you catch my drift. or, less conspiratorially, it may simply be a reflection of the disjointed nature of being a professional bike rider in the 1980s. given the star status applied to many a modern day rider, it well behoves the cycling obsessive of today to read the story behind one of british cycling's true characters.
thirteen year-old promising manx cyclist, peter berry, was killed while out training in 2005 when a wheel came loose from a truck and struck the young cyclist. steve joughin is donating a percentage of the profits from pocket rocket to the peter berry fund, assisting young isle of man cyclists, in much the same manner as the dave rayner fund, or scotland's braveheart fund. another good reason to purchase a copy and give one to a friend for christmas.
copies of pocket rocket can be ordered direct from nemesis publishers
posted thursday 18 november 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................