Former American pro racer Joe Parkin caught people’s attention not by being one of only a few to race professionally in three disciplines, but by writing A Dog in a Hat: An American bike racer’s story of mud, drugs, blood, betrayal and beauty in Belgium.
Parkin wrote about his experiences living in Europe and the hardships of professional road racing. As a contemporary of compatriots Andy Hampsten, Davis Phinney and Greg LeMond, he understood the commitment to their calling, and laid out the experience boldly, including the rampant doping in the peloton.
Parkin, now 42 and living in Santa Cruz, California, is busy putting the finishing touches on his second book, due for publication in September. BikeRadar caught up with the bespectacled Michigan native to find out more about the book and the man as well.
BikeRadar: Did you think you’d be writing another book so quickly after A Dog in a Hat?
No. Absolutely not. I figured that A Dog in a Hat would be my one and only, but sales have been great, and the feedback has been very complimentary, so my publisher asked if I’d write another one.
What’s the second book about?
The second book is somewhat of a continuation of the first, picking up with me looking for a team to race for in the US to my mountain bike racing career and eventual retirement from professional cycling.
How many words is the publisher expecting in this latest manuscript?
To tell you the truth I can’t remember and I don’t have the agreement handy, but the book should most likely dress out at about the same length as the last one, about 204 pages.
Has a title been chosen?
Not yet. The Cat in the Hat has already been taken, so that’s probably not going to be it. Got any ideas?
How will book number two differ from the first? How will it be similar?
The second will differ because it’s primarily about racing in the States. There are some flashbacks to my Euro days, which makes it a bit different in structure. It will be similar in that it is still basically my memories of adventures (and misadventures) in bike racing. I don’t suddenly become a superhero or anything.
You worked for Castelli USA after retiring from racing. Can you give us a quick overview of what you’ve been doing?
I actually started working for Castelli while I was still trying to race, but hung up the cleats very shortly after starting there. I left there shortly before Castelli relocated its US headquarters to Portland, Oregon.
I spent almost a year working at One On One Bicycle Studio in Minneapolis, before taking a position doing motorsports marketing for a company called Shock Doctor. I am hoping to come back to the cycling industry soon, though.