Allan Peiper interview: Cycling, spirituality and the meaning of life

The cover of A Peiper's Tale.

The cover of A Peiper's Tale. (Image credit: John Flynn)

Meeting the man behind A Peiper's Tale

At face value, A Peiper's Tale presents as an honest account of life inside the professional peloton. Taken from the perspective of a man who came from unconventional beginnings to ride as a domestique with the top-shelf pro teams including Peugeot and Panasonic in the 1980s, Allan Peiper speaks with candidness about the big issues in the sport: from doping to dodgy deals, team politics and, more recently, his role as a directeur-sportif with Davitamon-Lotto.

But it's fair to say this book is not 'just' about the bike. Peiper shows himself to be a person of depth and introspection, whose life journey from the back-blocks of rural Australia to Belgium and then the big-time reveals much about 'the human condition' and our personal spirituality. Cyclingnews' correspondent John-Michael Flynn enjoyed a coffee with him at the recent Noosa International Criterium, where he talked about cycling, life and the need to bare his soul to the world in print.

Dressed in a white linen shirt, the tanned and leathery skin of this 45 year-old former pro-cyclist could easily blend in with the alfresco atmosphere in Australia's sub-tropical holiday mecca of Noosa.

As I sit across the table sipping a cappuccino and listening intently, it's Peiper's piercing blue eyes (captured intelligently on the cover of his book), which give him away. For here is a man who could never make a living as a poker player, and his book tells us as much, by way of his frank and honest accounts of life as a pro cyclist.

But those eyes tell us yet more, for Peiper carries with him the scars of a troubled past, troubles which shaped his career and form the basis of what is an inspiring life story, put into print. He is, it must be said, a child of his generation. The ten years post-cycling have been spent on a journey of spirituality, where Peiper explored meditation, yoga, visited India twice, and sought solace in the dreaming country of Australia's Western Desert, in the search for meaning.

"I've done a lot of self reflection in the last years and going back to my youth I saw what made me so angry and saw what made me want to succeed to prove that I was worthy," Peiper recalls.

"The scary part is when you get to the end of your career; how do you put it in order and how do you live with the ghosts of the past? When you come to stop bike riding, that's when the rooster comes home."

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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