What If I Had Never Tried It
I'm probably the last motorcycle racing fan to read Valentino Rossi's autobiography 'What If I Had Never Tried It'.
A lot has changed in Rossi's life since this book was published in 2005, a time when Rossi could do no wrong.
I suppose, back then, I was enchanted by the Rossi mystery and as the old saying goes: 'you should never meet your heros', I wasn't in a hurry to get under the skin of the most famous motorcycle racer of our time.
What is good about this book is that it isn't just your typical ghost-written 200-pager of A. N. Other professional sportsman, written by someone who churns out 20 books a year. It's written by Rossi but with help from Enrico Borghi, a well-known MotoGP journalist for the Italian magazine Motosprint.
The book starts so well, going straight into the description of a battle between Rossi and Biaggi at the Australian Grand Prix in 2001.
Rossi's description of the duel is so prescise, so pin-point, it gives you a glimpse into the mind of this incredibly talented racer, whose victories have been decided with the same pin-point precision and whose rivalries have added a depth of personality to the sport that it so badly needed.
But after the first few pages, the promise starts to fade. The book is chaptered, simply one to sixteen, but these chapters merely indicate a time to pause and go and make a cuppa. They don't really address different aspects or points in Rossi's life. Although the book is sprinkled with small insights into Rossi's world, it never really focuses on one part. Each chapter jumps around the place and doesn't stay on track. Perhaps that's the way Rossi's mind really works and I've missed the trick. Perhaps.
I wanted to find out what his major influences were, how he went about winning a race, let alone a championship. What the stories were behind some of the best GPs of the last 20 years; the rumours in the paddock, the gossip. How he went about cutting a contract and determining what he was worth. How, despite his enormous wealth, he stays focused. What his relationship with his father was like back then and how it changed. Where he thinks other riders go wrong.
I wanted to go behind the scenes in Rossi's world and live out the battles he's won to get where he is today, but the book keeps you a few paces away and instead talks about buzzing around local country lanes as a teenager and reads more like 'What I did in my youth by Valentino Rossi' than a real deep grasp on the world of a sporting superstar.
I've seen a picture of Rossi smooching a grid girl in his motorhome. I know that grid girl was, at that time, Gibernau's grid girl. There must have been a story behind it. It must have been a Rossi and Uccio plan to get inside Gibernau's head. The paddock would have rumbled with rumours. That's the sort of thing I wanted to find out about.
For me, the most insightful part of the whole book was Rossi's hatred for the Suzuka 8-hour but his dogged determination to win it with Colin Edwards so the pair never had to return. I thought he'd have loved the 8-hour and would have been proud of it. Turns out, it was nothing more than a contractual obligation.
As this book is written by Rossi himself, it's raw and unpolished, which could be good if it talked about the parts of his life that are really interesting but I get the impression from this book that Valentino is a just a normal, ordinary, possibly slightly boring person off-track and his on-track post-win celebrations are - as other riders have hinted - merely a ruse for the millions of spectators.
I hope he writes another book now he's older and has more interesting experiences to share. I hope he writes it alongside an established journalist who can push him and press him to reveal more about the world he lives in - a fascinating world - and I'd love to see it structured properly too.
I don't know about you, but I'd like to hear about Valentino Rossi the loser, much more than Valentino the cheeky upstart.
It's certainly changed the way I think of him. Perhaps I should have never tried it?
You can use this link to buy Valentino Rossi: What If I Had Never Tried It from Amazon.
Posted: 08/05/2012 at 21:52
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