Monday, November 14, 2016

Book Review: Hello, Bicycle

I realized I couple of things while reading Hello, Bicycle: An Inspired Guide to the Two-Wheeled Life by Anna Brones.
First, I'd like to take a cycling-camping trip.  I can only imagine the satisfaction from cycling to a location, setting up camp, enjoying the night, and pedaling home again.  It would be the satisfaction of backpacking--and then some.  I told Matt I am going to look into this.  Surely there are places to camp that are a reasonable cycling distance away.
Second, I'd like to organize a group ride with my pals.  I know I have friends that cycle.  I don't know why it never occurred to me to see if they'd want to all cruise somewhere together.  I can see good times ahead.

Overall though, I didn't find Hello, Bicycle all that useful.  Maybe I've been cycling too long; I've been a cycle commuter (a term that seems too over-the-top to cover my five miles a day) for a decade or so.  Perhaps if I'd stumbled across it in the mid-2000s I'd have gotten more ground-breaking, eye-opening info out of it.
I do think it would be a good starter book for a budding cyclist--or someone who wants to take cycling to a new level.  The author takes the reader through buying a bicycle, accessories that are required, such as helmets and lights, and some very basic bicycle maintenance.  I had to smile a little over the written instructions and diagrams for changing a flat tire.  I think that is something that one just has to do, in order to get it.  Written out it seems like a snap--which is not how I remember my first experience changing a flat.  Still.  Gotta start somewhere.  Also included are a few recipes, tips for different types of cycling (commuting, downhill, exercise, cycling with kids), and a good list of resources and cycling groups.  I might have to take part in 30 Days of Biking this year!  I do love personal challenges and all.
I am torn about how to describe this book.  I found it a bit pretentious, but at the same time it seemed it was written for someone very much like me--someone who goes to the market and comes home with kale and baguette in their bicycle basket.  This left me pondering my own potential pretentiousness.  I liked the quaint, almost-vintage looking illustrations.  I especially like the empowering language--even when it did smack of pretension.  I have to credit Anna Brones with spelling out all the ways that cycling--and an active cycling culture--is a good thing.  I mean, I generally think of my commute as my daily exercise and not much more.  Anna made me realize that I am not only improving my health and being eco-savvy, but am also helping the economy and even reducing our dependence on foreign oil, too.   "Cycling is patriotic!" she says.  I did love that.   I also didn't ever give much thought to how bicycles helped women gain a greater equality with their male counterparts.  Like so many things, what seems simple might have a lot more going on if one follows along through the pages of history.
That is sort of the broad theme of the book, I'd say--that bicycles are revolutionary.  They're simple, easy to maintain, affordable and can be customized into whatever a person wants--from speedy road bicycles to workhorse cargo bikes.  In a world dominated by car culture, Anna Brones proudly, excitedly encourages a (growing) alternative lifestyle built around two wheels--and I like that view a lot.
(Even if she does make cycling in a skirt sound way harder than it is.  I dunno, maybe I just don't wear short enough skirts that this is a problem for me.  I do think the Penny in Yo Pants solution is pretty clever...even if I don't need it.)

All in all, I don't know how "inspired" this guide is.  It might be best suited for a novice or beginner cyclist, but even someone more experienced can sift out a nugget or two to tickle the imagination, open new doors.  The important part is that Hello, Bicycle makes a person want to get out and go for a ride.  So, I guess, it must be counted as a success because it certainly did so for me.

Happy cycling!!

Disclaimer:  I got a copy of this book for free from the Blogging for Books programs.  The review and opinions are my own and not influenced by that fact.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!