Bicycling as a way of life: a social manual

During my forty years of aggressive cycling, I have come across nearly every kind of bicyclist that can be found two-wheeling across the U. S. of A. All of them, no matter how they ride or how much they know, will be confirmed, challenged, entertained, and peeved by this book. Here are some reasons:

Bike Snob is a real book, although with a blog-inspired writing style and a graphics layout that will entice even people who resist print-on-paper modes of communication. By real book, I mean that it is full of clear, informative, accurate declarative prose. It conveys a comprehensive body of information about the history, politics, engineering, aesthetics, and sociology of bicycling. Bike Snob is as good a guide to serous cycling for adults as any book I know.

This book has attitude, point of view, conviction, and passion—all of it written in a vivid, sometimes outrageous style that makes BikeSnobNYC’s opinions clear enough that readers can agree and disagree (both of which I do!).

The layout and graphics help make the book. Subtitles, sidebars, and drawings break up the solid print that characterizes most books. The longest block of solid book-style layout that I noticed is only three pages long. The eyes are pulled forward and the mind follows along from one page to another to another. Before you know it, you are actually reading the book.

I like Bike SnobNYC’s definition of cyclist. It decribes me and at the same time is comprehensive enough to include a whole lot of people who venture out on two wheels even though their mode of cycling is quite different from mine. Who is a cyclist?

1.     A person who rides a bicycle even when he or she doesn’t have to.

2.     A person who values the act of riding a bicycle over the tools one needs in order to do it.

3.     A person who has incorporated bicycles and cycling into his or her everyday life.

I also like the way that this book punctures pretensions and prejudices about cycling. The result is that the practicality of a two-wheeled way of life is enhanced. At the same time, the sometimes weird, sometimes sophisticated aesthetics of cycling can be appreciated.

I read a borrowed copy of Bike Snob in one sitting (flying from Orlando to Portland). It’s such a good book that I’m going to return it to my cycling son and buy my own for reference, enjoyment, and example of how to write my own book (working title: Cycling Past Seventy: Body Dissolving, Spirit Strong as Always).

By the way, BikeSnobNYC appears to have a conventional name: Eben Weiss. The artist is Christopher Koelle and the designer and contributing artist is Gregory Ryan Klein. These three and their publisher have done the worlds of cycling and book publishing a great and wonderful service.

My strong advice: bicycle over to your nearest bookstore and buy your very own copy. And then find a comfortable place with a good supply of coffee (or whatever) and read away the afternoon. For a little while, anyway, reading about cycling is nearly as much fun as riding on an open road with the breeze at your back. And while you’re at it, check out the publisher’s link:

One Response to Bicycling as a way of life: a social manual

  1. liisafagerlund says:

    Great definition of a cyclist, great book review–look forward to reading the book.

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