An Open Proposal to Mark Cavendish

03.24.2014 | 11:49 am

NewImageDear Mark,

I have been reading your latest autobiography, At Speed: My Life in the Fast Lane. What a fantastic book! With every word I read, I cannot help but think to myself, “How is it possible that this 28-year-old has only written two autobiographical volumes? And how is it possible he let a full 2.5 years elapse between books? Mark Cavendish is so interesting that I want a book from him each and every year!

“No, that is too long!” I then exclaim to myself. “I demand a Mark Cavendish autobiographical book-of-the-month club!”

Heck (I’d say “Hell,” but I know you’re offended by coarse language), I feel like I’m not getting enough Mark Cavendish if I don’t get a new book about your latest reimagining of what would be perceived as childish, bad behavior in most adults every single day

With that in mind, it is no surprise to me your latest book is currently  #52 in the “Cycling” book category on, and #14 (!!!) in the “Bike Repair” category

(I am totally stoked, by the way, to get to the part in the book where you tell me how to repair my bicycle.)

And that’s where we get to the problem, Mark: what is the world to do while we wait for your next book? I’m sure it’ll be coming out sometime within the next few months, but your fans can’t wait that long! We need something to tide us over. Something that captures the passion, joy, intensity, and insightfulness of your writing. 

What we need is At Speed: The Musical.

I’ll pause for a moment while you let that soak in.

OK, let’s continue.

I believe that only in this format can the pathos, excitement, and lyrical quality of your most recent book be truly captured and shared with your fans.

I am pleased to present a sample script for your perusal, based on the opening scene in Chapter Two (“Five Stages”) of At Speed, because that’s as far as I’ve managed to get in the book so far.


Scene 1: Trauma and Treachery On a Bus

The stage — the interior of a bus — is empty and dark, except a single CHAIR, a spotlight tightly focused on it. Mark appears onstage, pensively holding a HELMET. The spotlights converge as MARK sits on the CHAIR, staring down at his helmet. 

MARK looks into the audience, who can now see there are TEARS running down his face.

A lone piano accompanies MARK as he sings:

I have lost
I have lost a sprint to Alessandro Petacchi
How could I calculate the cost? 

I had dreams
I had dreams of winning another stage
Now all I want to do is scream 

MARK stands up and places his HELMET on the CHAIR, then throws his head back and screams.

The HELMET falls off the chair and skitters across stage, a spotlight following it. As the HELMET exits the stage, the spotlight reveals the PRESS CHORUS, which sings to a cacophonous string arrangement:

His helmet bounces everywhere
We’re not the only ones who thunk
This madman, this madman
Who’s raging like a drunk
We must eviscerate and castigate
Cavendish, obnoxious skunk!

The echoes of the shrill chorus fade into silence, then MARK sings.

I am lost
The emptiness and silence
On this bus tear me apart

So alone
The tumult in my mind
Is echoing my heart

BOB STAPLETON enters stage left, wearing a TOP HAT, a black cape, a sinister MUSTACHE, and a sneer.

MARK: Oh no, not Bob Stapleton.

BOB STAPLETON circles MARK, leering, snapping his fingers, always facing MARK.

MARK sings.

Say something
I don’t know what
Say something
You’re freaking me out
I can’t think of what you could say 
That would help
Say something
Not just anything
So many things you could say
That would hurt
So no!
Don’t say something
Don’t say anything
I don’t like that look in your eyes!

MARK runs off stage, while BOB STAPLETON twirls his mustache and laughs.


What you don’t know
Can hurt you
What I do know
Will hurt you
And if you don’t know
What I do know

I’ve got a plan
Oh it will hurt you
Another man
Yeah, this will hurt you
Another horse 
Rogers of course!
I’ll leave you twisting in the wind
And you…you’ll never feel safe again!

Muaaaah ha ha ha ha!

BOB STAPLETON flourishes his cape and runs offstage.


I’m confident, Mark, that this play will be a huge hit. I look forward to collaborating with you further on this project.

Kind Regards,
The Fat Cyclist

PS: Pages 47-48 of At Speed, from which I have adapted this scene, are shown below for your reference.




  1. Comment by MC | 03.24.2014 | 12:27 pm

    oohhh….will this maybe be a melodrama?? Bob wearing black, with a handlebar mustache (nothing more sinister than THAT!)…Cav in white…we cheer when Mark comes on stage, then boo, hiss and sneer at Bob, throwing popcorn…

    I’m IN! Let me know when it opens Fatty!

  2. Comment by bikemike | 03.24.2014 | 12:59 pm

    I hope it’s better than “The Great Gatsby”, cause that sucked.

  3. Comment by sharon | 03.24.2014 | 1:12 pm

    Why not go after Wiggins too? He has about 3 biographies out there at this point doesn’t he? But really, what exactly is the point to your blog? It’s not humorous. It strikes me as passive aggressive since you obviously have an opinion about Cavendish and his book but instead of writing that you try to cloak it in a weak attempt at humor.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Mark Sharon! – FC

  4. Comment by sharon | 03.24.2014 | 1:26 pm

    It’s Sharon again. Or Mark. Seriously Fatty, help me out here. Did you just hate the book? Thought it was self indulgent (like most athlete biographies)? Disliked his interpretation of events? Was it worse than Millar’s book, Wiggins, McEwen, etc etc? Do you dislike Cav as a cyclist? For that matter, which cyclist is on your good list?

    OK, Mark Sharon. here’s what happened. VeloPress had sent me this book months ago. Due to lack of interest, I hadn’t cracked it ’til yesterday, when I opened it to page 47 — the beginning of Chapter 2. I read the 2 pages and it seemed so over-the-top melodramatic that it needed satirizing.

    Answers to your specific questions, in order:

    1. I haven’t read any of the book except this 2 pages. The 2 pages I read were incredibly self-indulgent.
    2. I found your his retelling of events as hilarious and parody-worthy, but don’t even recall the actual event you’re he’s talking about.
    3. I haven’t read Millar’s, Wiggins, McEwen’s books, nor yours Cavendish’s. Probably won’t, either.
    4. I don’t dislike you Cavendish as a cyclist and enjoy watching you him sprint.
    5. All cyclists are on my good list, but especially Rebecca Rusch, because she’s a hardcore powerhouse who’s fast, friendly, and spends her spare time making the world a better place.

    – FC

  5. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.24.2014 | 1:34 pm

    Actually Sharon (Mark) if the excerpt Fatty included is any clue, I think it is very simple and easy to see where Fatty is coming from:

    This is a terrific book, and Fatty loves it, when viewed through the same lens as Mystery Theater 3000 views B-grade Sci-Fi movies.

    I like your answer better than mine. Can I pretend I wrote it? – FC

  6. Comment by MikeL | 03.24.2014 | 1:53 pm

    Have you considered crowdfunding to bring this idea to fruition?

    The Pro Cyclist Community Theatre. We would NEVER run out of material. Genius idea. – FC

  7. Comment by Carl | 03.24.2014 | 1:54 pm

    I would like to audition for the part of the helmet.

  8. Comment by Carl | 03.24.2014 | 1:55 pm

    Well, I tried to type , but it didn’t work.

    If you’d like, I can do either of the following:

    1. Replace your blank comment above with a comment I wish someone would leave about how hilarious this piece is.
    2. Delete your blank comment above.

    I of course prefer option 1. Your call. – FC

  9. Comment by UpTheGrade, SR, CA | 03.24.2014 | 2:06 pm

    Simply hilarious!
    Fatty, your comic genius is worthy of a #1 ranking in Amazon bicycle repair in my opinion.

  10. Comment by Kukui | 03.24.2014 | 3:38 pm

    TOTALLY picturing Bob Stapleton as Snidely Whiplash!

    I’ll never see him the same way again… :)

  11. Comment by Jordan | 03.24.2014 | 3:38 pm


    There is so much to this post I can’t really figure out how to respond. Suffice to say that yes, despite what “Sharon” says the article is not only sprinkled with just the right amount of snark, it is also humorously condescending in a way that even a brick like Cavendish could feel was complementary.

    Cavendish aspires to the philosophical eloquence of Mario Cipollini and ends up sounding like Elmo.

  12. Comment by fatty | 03.24.2014 | 3:42 pm

    I’m still waiting for someone to remark on how good the songs are. These are REALLY GOOD songs I wrote for you people. PLEASE APPRECIATE THEM.

  13. Comment by BamaJim | 03.24.2014 | 3:50 pm

    Maybe when you’re as fast as Cavendish, so much happens in 2 1/2 years you just have to write another autobiography. In any case, your (spot on) parody seems to be helping, a quick check shows he’s up to number 24 in the Amazon rankings, totally thrashing books like “Going Clipless, a Beginner’s Guide to Clipless Bike Pedals”.

  14. Comment by ScottR | 03.24.2014 | 3:51 pm

    I really loved ‘Boy Racer’ – super self indulgent, sure, but what pro cyclist (especially sprinters, at least by reputation) wouldn’t be? I actually enjoyed the (what felt like) honesty slash ‘behind the scenes’ look.

    Honestly, I’ve been wanting to buy ‘At Speed’ for a while now (~2 months?) – so if you are done with it, want to pass your copy my way? :-)

  15. Comment by Dave T | 03.24.2014 | 4:00 pm

    Man I would totally go see this musical. Fatty you are a true lyrical genius!

  16. Comment by SteveB | 03.24.2014 | 4:15 pm


    If you want us to love the songs, you have to help us out
    by telling us what ‘tunes they are sung to’…

    For this I’m thinking we need something over the top like
    Phantom of the Opera, but I’m struggling with that a bit.

    Alternatively, just post a picture of Cav in drag photoshopped to look like the proverbial fat lady.

    Oh, the music will be an all-original score. – FC

  17. Comment by Skye | 03.24.2014 | 4:48 pm

    I loved the songs, and what made them especially entertaining is that you didn’t provide the music, so I got to make it up!
    I know you just said this should be a musical, but I think Bob and his MUSTACHE sounded pretty good as an operatic piece, and that might be a style worth considering for the whole play. I think Mark’s Lost/Dreams/Alone verses would fit into an opera just fine, although ‘Say Something’ is the one I think would most benefit from an operatic makeover because the version they sing on the radio has such a limited range of notes.
    Besides, operas are pretty over-the-top, dramatic and moody already, so its a perfect fit!

  18. Comment by Carl | 03.24.2014 | 6:30 pm

    Please replace my blank comment with something incredibly witty!!! Thanks!

  19. Comment by Doug (way upstate NY) | 03.24.2014 | 6:30 pm

    One song in the musical should be to “Bohemian Rhapsody”. All of his lead out crew singing along with him. That would be cool!

  20. Comment by SteveB | 03.24.2014 | 8:04 pm


    Or, the rest of the peloton singing:

    Bismilah (or whatever) no, we will not let you go!
    (then his lead out sings): Let him go!

    Somebody really needs to do this.

  21. Comment by SteveB | 03.24.2014 | 8:06 pm

    or, the lead out in barbershop quartet style…

  22. Comment by Liz M. | 03.24.2014 | 8:25 pm

    My husband is a writer and is occasionally approached to ghost write biographies (BTW, he’s never said yes). I imagine behind each of these books is a fine but frustrated writer whose dreams of being a great novelist, investigative reporter or even a Broadway playwright just crashed and burned into the banalities of a C-list movie star or A-list sports star. Consider the possibility that the writer was eking the most drama he could out of the material he had to work with.

    If only he’d thought to include songs!

    Here’s the thing — and I’m being completely honest here — I would LOVE to ghost-write someone’s cycling memoir. I would seriously LOVE it.

    Not sure if my client would love the result, but….

    - FC

  23. Comment by Up north | 03.24.2014 | 10:01 pm

    I’m willing to say it – I totally sang the songs in my head while reading the post. I would have sung out loud, but 1)I was at work and 2) I’m very self conscious of my singing ever since my 2 year old told me “no more singing mommy”.

  24. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 03.25.2014 | 5:22 am

    “We see a silhouette of Little Man.
    We will not let you go.”

    “Let me go.”

    “We will not let you go.”

    “Let him go.”

    How could that not work?

    Elden, I would totally read a biography you wrote. I think you should do it anyway. Or the musical. Yeah, you pick. I’m good either way.

  25. Comment by patty | 03.25.2014 | 7:03 am

    I follow cycling and have a hard time deciding in a race if I should root for Mark or Peter Sagan. I am always glad when they both make it across the finish line in sprint! I had no idea Mark had written a book and now two! Thanks for the info!

  26. Comment by fatshez | 03.25.2014 | 7:59 am

    Apropos Sharon’s/Mark’s posts, I’ve read Millar’s book and the Cavendish one referred to hear and came to almost exactly the same conclusion as Fatty did about Cavindish’s book – that he managed to get there after only 2 pages speaks to his very perceptive nature! Millar’s book on the other hand is great, and any mention of Mark is very complimentary!

  27. Comment by fatshez | 03.25.2014 | 8:01 am


  28. Comment by slo joe | 03.25.2014 | 10:09 am

    Hmm….it’s not in the top 50 cycling books of all time.

    or Kent’s favs:

    I’m sticking to Willie Weir and Jill Homer :o)

  29. Comment by Eric L | 03.25.2014 | 10:55 am

    What an excellent idea. The scene where Cavendish ditches his long-time home town sweetheart for a fashion model will be sure to be a tear jerker. If you could work in Cadel and his dog, it would be epic Broadway in every sense.

    Lovely funny post Fatty!

  30. Comment by Wife#1 | 03.25.2014 | 1:27 pm

    -guaranteed to blow your mind…

    I am feeling strongly that ALL the song lyrics you have created for this musical extravaganza should be sung to the tune of the “Life in the Fast Lane” by the Eagles. It works on so many levels.

    Must add that I am amused curious that MarkSharon is seeing anything remotely passive here! LOL!

  31. Comment by GregC | 03.25.2014 | 1:45 pm

    The musical approach is genius. While the Queen genre is widely supported (and the life in the fast lane works on so many levels as Wife#1 so aptly points out), lets not leave out the Pink Floyd- cause all in all, its just another brick in the wall!

  32. Comment by Wife#1 | 03.25.2014 | 2:23 pm

    @GregC – I have a catchy and quite suitable phrase that rhymes perfectly with “brick in the wall” as a lyrical substitute. But in respect of Fatty’s call to not offend via the use of coarse language, I’ll let you work it out for yourself. :-)

  33. Comment by ScottR | 03.25.2014 | 3:31 pm

    slo joe – given that both of your lists are from 2011, it would be hard for a 2013 book to have made the cut. :-)

    His prior book (Boy Racer) apparently came in at #17 on the first – not bad at all – and was on Kent’s list as well.

    Looking through the lists, I’m surprised by some exclusions like ‘Hell On Two Wheels’… but I also see some books to add to my ‘to acquire’ list.

  34. Comment by rolis | 03.25.2014 | 4:11 pm


    Thank you. That’s what I needed. – FC

  35. Comment by Manx Missile | 03.25.2014 | 4:17 pm

    At first I was like all sad because Fatty doesn’t appreciate my super book.

    But then I realized he is just jealous

  36. Comment by The Cyclist | 03.25.2014 | 4:39 pm

    Can’t help wondering if the author of this blog is suffering from MPD or if it’s all intentional. Funny.

    First, we prefer to call it Dissociative Identity Disorder. Second, I don’t “suffer” from it; I enjoy it thoroughly. – FC

  37. Comment by Mike A | 03.25.2014 | 4:45 pm

    A little too much sarcasm for my taste. Don’t you know how serious a sport top level cycling is?

    Maybe it’s because I’m British…

  38. Comment by Ben | 03.25.2014 | 7:46 pm

    When the lion was dieing and the rabbits, foxes and hyenas were making fun of him, the lion simply said “Yeah well, I was a lion once”

    Mario Cipollini is dead? – FC

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  40. Comment by Eric L | 03.26.2014 | 11:51 am

    Jealous Mr. Cavendish? You’re talking about the man married to The Hammer, who rates an full on FWOOAR!.

    Mere podium girls just ain’t innit.

  41. Comment by Larry | 03.26.2014 | 2:00 pm

    This is good old school vintage stuff here. Nice work. And. Thank you Fatty!

  42. Comment by The Cyclist | 03.26.2014 | 4:16 pm

    Brilliant. Even my mate Zaphod is pretty much impressed, and he does NOT get impressed easily.

    That guy is one hoopy frood. – FC

  43. Comment by Dr. Lammler | 03.26.2014 | 8:24 pm

    Every musical needs a dance number. Here is my suggestion:

    In ultra slow motion, possibly with strobe light effect, all the sprinters ride their bikes onto the stage. Cav is in the lead, but at the last moment, Petacchi raises his arms in victory. The remaining 90 TdF riders cross the finish line and dismount their bikes. To appropriate music, and a dance routine similar to Riverdance, all the riders in their team kits start to tap dance “with their cycling shoes on”. Helmets are mandatory because, well… because, they’re dancing in cycling shoes, and they’re all going to fall. (Hilarity will ensue) At the end of the routine, Cav throws his helmet across the stage, and it’s the end of Act 17.

    Of course, this is just a rough draft.

  44. Comment by slo joe | 03.27.2014 | 6:16 am

    ScottR: (slaps self on forehead!) You right.

    Off thread question: Do you know the name of the school head mistress who at the age of 50 began touring the world? Racking my pea brain.

    Ride Long and Prosper

    Back on Thread: Me thinks Fatty you should write a cycling based comedic play. I’ll be in New York in May for Bike NY and can attend the opening.

  45. Comment by NancyJBS | 03.27.2014 | 9:01 am

    I believe there’s a place for a number such as this in the musical. Go global when you score this thing, Fatty!

  46. Comment by Linda Matheson | 03.27.2014 | 9:18 am

    So, reading through these comments a little late, but fatty, aren’t you already writing a cyclist’s memoirs? Yours, in the blog posts?

    Sure, but I mean I’d love to ghost-write someone’s autobiography. I love interviewing people, am good at it, and am able to write. Sort of. – FC

  47. Comment by annmarie | 03.27.2014 | 9:29 am

    As a 44 year old semi-out of shape woman who rides a pretty low end bike many miles just about everyday, I find myself occasionally getting passed by very fit ( and sometimes very fat) cyclists who are riding gorgeous bikes and who typically refuse to acknowledge my existence. This has led to me assuming all serious riders are just big asses. After reading this book review I feel like maybe I’m correct in my assumptions. I love riding but I don’t follow the sport at all so I have no idea who Mark Cavendish is. He sounds like a real charmer. For what it’s worth, fatty and the hammer sound like lovely people and make me think maybe, just maybe, there are some really nice and funny riders out there. Also, you really are talented, fatty. No matter what you write about, even if it’s something I know nothing about, I typically find myself laughing out loud when I come here.

  48. Comment by DC Commuter | 03.27.2014 | 11:45 am

    A lone piano isn’t enough. Nothing short of full orchestration will do this song justice.

  49. Comment by ScottR | 03.27.2014 | 3:38 pm

    Slo joe – I am not familiar with it, but this seems like it might be what you are referring to (just from searching around):”A Bike Ride: 12,000 Miles Around the World”

  50. Comment by Aqiyl Aniys | 03.27.2014 | 6:36 pm

    You are quite funny. The way you wrote the script, I would like to see his on stage. Poor helmet.

  51. Comment by slo joe | 03.28.2014 | 6:25 am


    ScottR: Yup. Thanks!! If you like history woven in amongst the cycling, you’d like her book. If I remember right she tried to follow the paths of famous people such Hannibel for her cycle route.


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