Posts Tagged ‘Book Report’
I’ve always dreamed about having a custom bike built, so somebody suggested that I should read Robert Penn‘s book, It’s All About The Bike – The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels. As the title would suggest, it’s a book that illustrates one man’s journey to build his ultimate dream bike.
The story of the bike build could have been told in about 50 pages. Instead, Penn fills the pages with a deep and rich history of the bicycle and where each component got it’s start.
Admittedly, being part of the RSS news feed, Facebook, Twitter generation, I first found myself getting impatient and wanting to skip ahead to all the juicy details about the bike. But, as I read through the book, I found myself immersed in a captivating account of the invention of the bicycle and how many of it’s components influenced the development of other things we use today. This amount of detail reminded me of why we still read books. Sometimes, you can’t just enough substantial information in a 140 character Tweet.
I plan to come refer back to this book as a resource for bike knowledge and history.
Overall, I was really impressed with It’s All About The Bike. If you have ever dreamed of having a custom bike built for yourself, you should read this to put things in perspective. My only complaint is that there wasn’t a gallery of glossy pics at the end of the book. After reading about all the choices he made for each part, I was hoping to see what the final build looked like. Thank goodness for the internet.
I’m slightly ashamed that it was just the cool design, the fancy blue strap and the upside down gold bike on the cover that had me saving this book to my already extensive ‘wish list’. I’ll also admit that clicking the “add to cart” button was most likely to push an order of something else, over the minimum $25 total to get the free Amazon shipping. I’m glad I did.
The Bike Owner’s Handbook by Peter Drinkell, is as it’s title implies: an owners manual for just about any bike. It’s what I would describe as the ‘instruction book’ that could have come with your bike. As I read through this book, I discovered that isn’t like some of the other books that I’d been reading – with narrative content articulating bike love, education or advocacy. Instead, the Bike Owner’s Handbook‘s content is pure function and utility. Although not as thorough as a Park Tools Blue Book, it has some good information on general maintenance of your bike. Pair that with some really cool illustrations, and you’ve got a nice addition to your bike book library. Or, because of it’s size, this can make a nice add-on to any bike owner’s tool box.
I finally got around to reading Bike Tribes, A Field Guide to North American Cyclists, by Mike Magnuson. As bike riders, we all know the general breakdown of the different types of cyclist on the roads and trails. Similar to how people are in life, cyclists are very different from each other. With the exception of our core love for the bicycle, we don’t always share the same perspective how we use it. In Bike Tribes, Mike Magnuson does a great job at cataloging each of those different categories of cyclists, and – in some cases – the different types of riders within each category.
In order to communicate a clear definition of the different groups, Magnuson structured the book around composite characters, meaning fictional people based on a number of real people interviewed. He uses anywhere from one to a few of these characters to articulate unique perspectives within each group – some more positive than others.
Magnuson also makes it more interesting by intermingling some of the different character’s stories. These small crossovers help create a nice flow throughout the book, making it hard to put down.
The book starts off by talking about different types of bike shops, bike shop employees and bike shop owners. It was clear that even though small shop owners and employees weren’t making a fortune, they seemed happier being part of and supporting the local bike community. This is yet, another good reason to support your local bike shops.
Then the book goes into a more specific break down of the different types of riders, including BMXers, Average Riders, Casual Mountain Bikers, Weight-Loss Cyclists, Triathletes, Century Riders, Charity Riders, Challenge Century Riders, Road Racers (Roadies), Mountain Bike Racers, Cyclecrossers, Randonneurs, Touring Cyclists, Commuters, Critical Mass Riders, Fixed Gear Cyclists, Vintage Bike Riders, and Beach Cruisers. The only big category he really didn’t touch was the Bicycle Chic Riders.
Magnuson also does a good job at being objective about each grouping, limiting any opinions to his summary at the end of each section. He let the stories, derived from his interviews, define each group – allowing readers to form their own opinions. My take, on all the different cyclists, was that many who ride for sport, miss out on the pure joy of cycling. This was a perspective that I already had, but was nice to see it contextualized in this book. Also, since I mostly ride for transportation, I really appreciate the positive stance he gave to commuters: “Next to the touring cyclist…the commuting cyclist is the person all cyclists most want to be.”
Bike Tribes is a great resource that successfully catalogs many of the different types of bicyclists. It’s helpful to those who don’t know anything about cyclists, as well as a great way for cyclists to learn and understand how other cyclists think.