Dog in a Hat, a book about an American racing in Belgium, reads like the racer – Joe Parkin – was just telling you these epic stories on a ride, up a climb, or at a coffee shop. I guess that Joe’s friends convinced him to write this book after years of hearing his stories, laughing, embellishing them, and imagining themselves what it’s like to race the Hell of the North. Joe did that and more. I expect when you get dropped by Joe, the grumbles are, “yeah drop me on this local hammerhead ride, but he got dropped all over Liege-Bastogne-Liege, whatever … .”
And that’s the beauty of this book and story. It’s not a hero’s journey, but instead a racer’s tale, including drugs, betrayal, crazy stuff. A story about getting flat-ass dropped and waking up in a whorehouse to race again. Think about the determination it takes us to finish our local Tuesday night world championship and here’s Joe: a stranger in a strangeland, racing with some crazy-ass mofos.
The book starts with a directive from Bob Roll to go race in Belgium and get out of the 4-corner office park crits. What racer hasn’t wanted to do that? Much of the racing we do in the States is with an eye to Europe. We think, imagine, and vicariously race as if we were euros, or what we think it’s like (don’t chase down your own team-mate, create an echelon, throw your stupid bottle). I don’t think we can even imagine how dark and trippy the kermis scene is, according to Joe.
What also appealed to me about the book, is that while we get Le Tour coverage, I’ve been fascinated by kermis* and hard-man racing in Belgium, and that’s what Joe did. Coincidentally, I met Johan Museeuw this year – the Lion of Flanders.
Joe takes questions
Joe has agreed to answer our questions and I’ll post them. Readers, what would you like me to ask?
(* Joe defines kermis as not spelled like kermesse, which is the French variation.)