Ride - Short Fiction about Bicycles
I remember reading a blog post from a local cyclist indicating his frustration with running into acquaintances and all they could talk to him about was of the 'so, I hear you ride your bike a lot" variety. Riding a bike is funny that way. It has a way of being all encompassing, a way of defining who you are in a way that it is unlike most other activities/passtimes/hobbies (I know, I know, how dare I call it a hobby?!) that I know of. As racers, we spend recklessly, obsess over our nutrition, shave our legs, and substitute very early mornings for late nights. As commuters, we carry changes of clothes, pay too much attention to the 10 day forecast, and meet our friends in bars clomping around on what sound like tap shoes (and don't have much traction to begin with, let alone on a beer soaked floor, with one or two in your system). The types go on and on, each with their own distinct brands of neuroses. The point is not that we are neurotic (we are) but that the binding common element is that we are all about the bike. These lifestyle changes are function over form. The bike occupies our thoughts and our conversations, especially with like minded souls. The theme of "bike" is an obvious thread that runs throughout these nine short stories, but more importantly, identity is at the heart of many of these (fear not, Derek Parfit will not be discussed), perhaps most obviously in the chilling "I'm Bob Deerman." I found the contribution by the editor of the book, Keith Snyder, to be especially poignant and his story, as well as the shop talk in Christopher Ryan's are the most seamless examples of bicycles serving the story effortlessly. There is a nice bit of cathartic revenge fantasizing done by Simon Wood. Kent Peterson's contribution is an unabashed love letter to biking, which is welcome, and Taliah Lampert's illustrations are wonderful, as always. A satisfying read when your brain needs a break from training, but you just can't seem to stop thinking about the bike.
Available on Kindle, and coming soon to Nook and iBook
The Obree Way - A Training Manual
On the other end of the spectrum of cycling reading material is Graeme Obree's "The Obree Way." This highly personal work from one of cycling's most intriguing figures is, as named, a training manual of sorts, probably the most unique training manual I have ever come across, and a fascinating read from this world class athlete. It is, not surprisingly, aimed squarely at cyclists, with exceedingly specific instructions on everything from bike fit to breathing techniques to coping with disappointing performances. I would venture to say that other athletes could benefit from Graeme's mental approach to training and mental preparation for competition.
For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Obree's life story, I encourage you to become familiar, he is a remarkable individual, to say the least. The subject of a feature length film, "The Flying Scotsman," and the author of a compelling autobiography, he has struggled throughout his life with depression, among other things, and is a very open and honest figure in a sport riddled with it's fair share of secrecy. His reimagining of the rider's position on the bike has been hugely influential, as has his fabrication of bicycles and components.
A large part of "The Obree Way" is dedicated to the setting up of a proper training bike. Like everything, this is done down to the finest detail, and, as in other parts of the manual, requires some work on the part of the reader/athlete. At times, there is a bit too much detail, if possible, and leads to some confusing bits (for instance, the equation he advises to use for crank length came up with an impossible number for me, but that may be my poor excuse for a brain). There is so much detail, in fact, that he even offers up advice on how to deal with your significant other in terms of the time commitment necessary to be successful, for that is who this book is aimed for, those who are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. While there are bits that the casual cyclist will benefit from (hell, the breathing technique was helpful even on my daily commute), the book, like Obree, is intensely focused. Personally, I am a huge fan of Graeme Obree's and his accomplishments on and off the bike and definitely recommend "The Obree Way," for all cyclists, just be forewarned, it's not your average training manual.
Available through www.obree.com
You know that old box of bike parts you've put in your closet?
Recorded inside the press room at Grenoble Velodrome, we bring you Episode #8 of the Insider from the 2011 Tour de France, our final podcast.
Recorded 1,850 metres above sea level atop the famed Alpe d'Huez, we bring you Episode #7 of the Insider podcast from the 2011 Tour de France.