When I am not goofing around with this blog or other blogs, or riding my bike, you can often find me with my nose in a book. My mother was a avid reader and she filled our house with books. At one point we had so many that she gave a bunch of my books away to help establish the library at our neighborhood Catholic school. She didn’t ask me and I was stunned when I found out. What really floored me was that she gave away my favorite book, Captured by the Mohawks by Sterling North (of Rascal fame). Over 35 years later my sister was sweeping out my mother’s garage, when a car pulled into the driveway. Out popped a woman who asked my sister if she’d be interested in buying a book she had picked up at a yard sale. The woman had seen my name scrawled in the book and thought it would be nice to offer it to the family. My sister told her “No, thanks.” When I heard of this, all I could think of was TRY NOT TO KILL!
All of this goes to show that I like books a lot. My house is full of them and I ain’t buying an e-reader. Call me a Luddite but books are meant to be read on the printed page. I have one bookcase devoted to books about sports. Many of these books date back to my marathoning days. I have fond memories of these books and the knee cartilage that I lost during those glory years. My best time was 3:04:29, completed with massive blisters on my feet.
I also have several books about biking adventures, mostly epic tours. These have gone out of style because of blogs and touring related websites like Crazyguyonabike,com, on which I have several journals and articles. Every once in a while, a bike book comes along that catches my eye. This year there were two that I read.
It’s All About the Bike by Robert Penn is the story of one British cyclist as he constructs his dream bike. The creation of each part of the bike is described in loving and enthusiastic detail. I am not much of a bicycle parts geek so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Since I am particularly fond of Brooks leather saddles, I really enjoyed reading about their factory and craftsman. The book also describes the invention and evolution of the bicycle, including its connection to an early 19th century volcano in Indonesia. (No spoilers here; go buy the book.)
I received the book Bike Snob from my wife’s brother’s family for Christmas. I had occasionally read the author’s Bike Snob NYC and found it to be overly involved in cycling in New York City. I’ve never ridden in the Big Apple so the blog has limited appeal to me. The book is another story. The Bike Snob, as it turns out, is very much attuned to my way of thinking about bicycling. He’s what I would call an everyday cyclist. His description of how he recreated an epic late 19th century bike tour in the countryside near New York City is especially interesting. It pretty much sums up how we spent the better part of the 20th century uglifying our world so that we could drive our cars to the mall. The book also includes a taxonomy of cyclists which everyone I know who rides around DC will be able to identify. I give him extra bonus points for his open mind regarding those of us who ride recumbents.
So there you have it, two books that will help you while away a wet, cold January afternoon – on your trainer in the basement, of course.