Another sports, or rather extreme sports, biography that held my interest even though I can’t even ride a bicycle! Danny MacAskill is quite amazing, and I recommend looking at his YouTube channel, here – he does quite astounding things on a bike and the making-of videos are fascinating. Very inventive and creative and a good few of them showcase beautiful surroundings in Scotland and elsewhere.

Danny MacAskill – “At the Edge: Riding for my Life”

(November 2019 – from the author/collaborator)

With help putting the book together from the very able Matt Allen, MacAskill explains his life through his cycling exploits, from early years tearing around the small town on the Isle of Skye he grew up in (and having a great time in the adventure playground he set up in his back garden – yes, he addresses what his mum thinks of all of this!) to his first viral video and the amazing productions he stars in today.

A modest man, you sense he’d be happy just riding around, and in fact as he gets busier and more famous, he finds he needs to carve out that time to do just that still, which is quite endearing. He’s honest about the psychological effects of his (many) injuries and the work he’s had to put in to recover from them – he also makes careful addresses to the reader from time to time about the need to be careful, and lists his injuries in a special contents page at the beginning – and also about his the fear which – surely naturally! – dogs him, not always on the hardest tricks, explaining how he psychs himself up for them.

The biking world seems very close and supportive, and he’s genuinely thrilled to meet the heroes of the videos he watches as a young man. He develops his bikes alongside the manufacturer, but there’s not too much technical detail (there is a glossary of riding terms to help with that aspect) and gives a good impression on just how hard he and his team work to achieve the films they make – he’s also generous in thanking people for their help and inspiration. There are funny and touching moments, for example when he agrees to complete a film his hero Martyn Ashton was making when he sustained a life-changing injury … but doing the different style also involves leg-shaving and the donning of Lycra …

We get little bits of scripts recording the action and MacAskill’s little diagrams, plus a load of excellent photos including multiple-exposure shots, as well as chapters on how he plans his films and on the music he uses. A great read.