Michael Barry writes in the preface to Inside the Postal Bus, I was approached by Velo Press to write.....And I was even handed up a title.
The title of this book infers that there would be a discussion of life aboard the postal bus, and I admit I was intrigued. After all, we know there are personalities at play, and the pressure to perform must be intense. And, have you ever heard the expression, "Going Postal?" The possibilities to illuminate are boundless. Yet our author goes on to discuss in detail the events of the 2004 U.S. Postal Team Racing Season and aside from the espresso machine and the sanitary deficiencies of the predecessor to the current Postal Bus, for all intents and purposes the bus is merely a conveyance rather than a metaphor or a stage. Filled with the names, anecdotes, and overviews of the strategic approach to racing, the training, and the results of the season, Michael Barry proceeds to relate an endless stream of the 2004 U.S. Postal Cycling Race Team's season's minutia.
For any reader who enjoys following the exploits of professional cycling teams, and the U.S. Postal Team luminaries in particular, this book is filled with the kind of details and statistics that allow such a reader to "talk shop" for hours with a similarly inclined competitive cycling aficionado. There are interesting flashbacks to the author's youth and his motivation to compete. There are asides about the author's wife, also a competitive cyclist, and a fair number of insights into what makes other team members tick, and on occasion, not tick. There are the required obsequities to The Lance Armstrong legend and a fairly in depth examination of the role the team plays in elevating the team hero to his winning status.
Postal Bus is written with a committed adherence to relating the minute details of the U.S. Postal Team's last season of existence and as such it may constitute a collector's item, or at least a commemorative. In fact, I would say it would make a terrific autograph collection medium as it mentions what must be every member of the team, what they wore, and in some cases what they had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The reader can walk away with a sense of what being a member of a competitive professional team is all about, but this is achieved only after passing through all the details of what amounts to a retelling of the season's chronology in an almost stream of consciousness journal entry style.
I can absolutely see what Michael Barry was heading for, and in many ways what he achieved in this book. I can see a valiant effort to commemorate the astounding efforts of the athletes that came together to be the U.S. Postal Team, and to commemorate that last season of the team under the USPS name, and in many ways he succeeds. If you are a fan, then I am certain this book will entertain, in fact if you are a real fan, I would almost say it is a must have. But if you are merely a committed cyclist looking to improve your game, or to understand the whys of competitive cycling, or to gain an insight into what makes competitive athletes go out and do it days after day, I would look elsewhere in Velo Press' outstanding selection of cycling publications.