Book Review: John Hopkins Leathered

I just finished reading John Hopkins’ book Leathered. It’s an autobiography that recounts his early home life and trips to the Southern California desert to camp and ride dirt bikes with his parents and older sisters. It’s a detailed look into his life and how he progressed from riding home-built machines to competing to road racing to getting some opportunities and squandering so many of them.

Hopkins carries a lot of personal demons (his father died early but instilled so much passion in him and substance abuse started early and carried on through most of his life). The man has had so many crashes and injuries it’s almost unfathomable that he stuck with it so long. I’m not sure that I would have, even with the salaries involved.

This is a short review so I’ll say this: It was a compelling read, I wolfed it down in 2 days. Growing up poor was certainly relatable but I couldn’t relate to the draw of the substance abuse. Nearly every chapter I knew things were going to end poorly. There’s a huge sense of self-destructive behavior, a lot of poor choices when the outcomes would be obvious. Hopkins’ tenacity is clear. As a rider, I get the impression that so much of his success came from an immense amount of experience starting early on, not innate talent. Hopkins gives the impression of not being afraid of getting hurt; definitely a ‘send it!’ sort of figure. He found limits by crashing, not by building a definitive sense of feel for things.

It’s not a story of how to do things, if anything, it’s an example of what not to do. I commend Hopkins for the successes that he has had and congratulate him in his current role as a rider coach and I sincerely hope that he can communicate to his students of pitfalls to avoid instead of sharing things from the perspective of his glory days.

I can’t say that there was much to glean in terms of how to be a better rider from the book but it was a page-turner in that it was an entertaining view into the lifestyle, salaries, and self-destructive nature of one of America’s last MotoGP riders.

I purchased my copy on Amazon as a Kindle book and read it on my iPad using the Kindle app. I paid full price for my copy and receive no promotional consideration.