Former Indianapolis Star business writer Daniel Lee spent part of his Thursday dodging rain drops and thunder bolts, and he couldn’t have been happier.
It didn’t hurt his mood that he spent much of his day staring at the French Alps, where he was to observe the Tour de France.
In the two years since publishing his book, “The Belgian Hammer,” about the European cycling scene, Lee has become something of a minor celebrity in cycling circles.
The primary focus of Lee’s book, now in its third printing, is how young American cyclists come to Belgium as amateurs to learn the sport and endure tough competition in preparation of doing top races like the Tour de France.
The book has been featured on NBC television broadcasts of the Tour, and Lee, who worked for the Star from 2005 to 2010 before becoming a communications specialist for local bicycle parts maker Zipp Speed Weaponry, is often asked his take on the Euro cycling scene and Americans’ part in it.
Lee and his book have been featured by European and Canadian media outlets. Locally he has been features on such programs as the IU School of Medicine/WFYI program “Sound Medicine” discussing health and safety issues with cycling and bike racing, and on WFYI’s “No Limits” for a roundtable discussion on ethics in sport.
The book was born from Lee’s personal experiences.
“The book grew out of my own experiences and observations, starting with becoming fascinated by European pro cyclists as a high school student in the 1980s and watching TV highlight shows of Greg LeMond in the Tour de France,” Lee explained.
Lee began racing bicycles when he was a student at Ball State University and raced in Belgian and Germany in 1992.
“That was an experience that really drove home to me just how tough high level cycling is as a sport,” Lee said.
In 2005, Lee moved back to Indiana from California and got involved in the local cycling scene. Lee met several high-level junior riders including Indianapolis native Guy East Jr., who is a primary figure in Lee’s book.
The book also features Tour de France riders Brent Bookwalter and Ted King as well as up-and-coming star Taylor Phinney, the son of Olympian Davis Phinney.
The book includes a chapter on women's cycling, rare for a cycling book, and also features the growing influence of collegiate cycling by discussing the national powerhouse Marian University team here in Indianapolis.
While The Belgian Hammer continues to roll off the presses, Lee said writing another cycling-related book isn’t out of the question.