Books: Crazed Jocks!

The Renegade Sportsman, by Zach Dundas     Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead

It's time we reclaim the raw heart of the game from what Zach Dundas calls the "sports-industrial complex" in The Renegade Sportsman: Drunken Runners, Bike Polo Superstars, Roller Derby Rebels, Killer Birds, and Other Uncommon Thrills on the Wild Frontier of Sports (Riverhead, $15, June). After reading this nationwide tour of alt athletics, you'll want to join the Hash House Harriers, a Portland, Oregon–based running group that fuels up with beer. The Renegade Sportsman establishes Dundas, a first-time author, as a P.J. O'Rourke for the bike polo set: irreverent without the snark, and often hilarious. There's someone drinking beer on nearly every page as he takes you deep into, in his words, "sports' terra incognita, where the tigers and dragons and drunk cyclocrossers and lesbian rugby players dwell." And Dundas doesn't always feel the need to go the Plimptonesque immersion-journalism route. Instead of pedaling the Trans Iowa, a 300-mile gravel grinder through corn country, he opts for driving the course with Guitar Ted, a Nugent fanatic turned race director; the 22-hour drive proves to be a much greater—and funnier—sufferfest.

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