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Bicycle History: A Chronological Cycling History of People, Races, and Technology Paperback – January 11, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: McGann Publishing LLC (January 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098431170X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984311705
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8.9 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,623,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Were the television show 'Jeopardy' to do a cycling-themed edition, Mr. Witherell's book could easily serve as the basis for each of the show's pieces of trivia. 'Bicycle History' is a delightful volume that is as difficult to put down as a great glass of wine. The book is grab-bag of surprises, reminding us of forgotten riders, details lost to time, and triumphs of both people and technology. It delivers to the reader fact upon fact that weave a tapestry of cycling history unlike any I've encountered. I can hear Trebek now: 'This American won the Grand Prix de la Côte d'Azur in 1940.'"
--Patrick Brady, Editor, Red Kite Prayer

A sample of what's inside:
A Frenchman traveled to the U.S. and obtained an American patent for the bicycle, but ended up returning to Paris to manufacture them.

Mile-a-Minute Murphy went 60 mph on a bike well before a car could go that fast.

The Tour de France was an unexpected consequence of the Dreyfus Affair.

Over 50 years ago a forgotten American raced in the Tour of Italy.

While setting the women's 12-hour distance record Beryl Burton caught and passed the man who was also in the process of setting a men's 12-hour cycling record.

About the Author

James Witherell is a Maine native and avid cyclist with about 15 bicycles. He has won three state time trial titles in his age category, and he rode 200 miles in eleven and a half hours on his 52nd birthday. Jim served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era (in Germany), and graduated from the University of Maine at Orono with degrees in English and psychology. He also has a master's degree in counselor education from the University of Southern Maine, and is a Registered Maine Guide. He lives in Lewiston, Maine, with his companion Sue, and a slightly crazy Maine Coon Cat. He is currently working on books about the Tour de France and L.L. Bean.

More About the Author

James L. Witherell was born In Rumford, Maine, and grew up in nearby West Peru. He attended West Peru Grammar School and Rumford High School before serving in the US Army and then going on to attend the University of Maine at Orono and the University of Southern Maine.
In addition to his Bicycle History book, he has made hiking maps of Maine's Baxter State Park and Acadia National Park, and is working on a history of the Tour de France as well as two books about prominant Mainers.
He is a Master Maine Guide and an avid cyclist having done well in local time trials and once rode 200 miles in eleven and a half hours.
He lives in Lewiston, Maine with his companoin, Sue and a nutty Maine Coon Cat.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Old Bike Guy on January 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Instead of a typical narrative of the history of the bicycle, the author instead provides lots of brief, interesting tidbits -- in kind of in a trivia type of format -- to take the book's readers on an informative ride through the history of this great invention.
But Bicycle History is about more than just the machine itself; the book also looks at the interesting characters involved with the bicycle and tells about its uses in sport as well as during times of war and as a tool of the Great Depression. The author also keeps the reader udated with the advances in technology involved in the evolution of the machine, and its use in races ranging from the grand tours of Europe to many lesser-known events. He also does a very good job of keeping track of almost evey English-speaking rider ever to race professionally, paying paticular attention to the Tour de France. I found it to be a very well-rounded look at the bike and its people. Hard to put down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Noah on December 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you love cycling, you will love this book. If you have ever spent hours in a library or on the internet trying to find some obscure cycling factoid, then you must buy this book. It is awesome.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Les Woodland on April 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
One of the happy things about this world is that people devote their lives to the improbable: and make it better than you suspected.

James Witherell could have written a murder mystery or taken up barbershop singing or become a breeder of prize cats. Instead, he has written a chronological history, a list, of just about everything that has happened in cycling from 1860 ("Ignaz Schwinn born in Hardheim, Germany") - and there I was not even knowing there had been a Ignaz Schwinn - to news that riders climbing Mont Ventoux in the 2009 Tour de France had to weave through fire engines coming down the other way.

His mother would have said: "James, is there nothing more useful you could do in life?" Which only shows that mothers don't know everything. Because Witherell's book, his list, becomes fascinating merely by existing. I had no idea that the French cycling federation once made a bicycle for President Eisenhower. Nor that in 1953 the Bicycle Institute of America (of whom, equally, I confess I had never heard) published a book of "bicycle play" with "hundreds of ideas for lively two-wheeler games, hikes, races, stunts and similar activities."

It's all there, along with the birth date of champions, the names of the greatest winners, the events of the Tour de France. The very serendipity takes on a humour of its own, a wish to see what other bizarre factoid could lie further down the page. James Witcherell's mother was wrong: her son has made a major contribution to cycling history. An improbable one, it's true, but delightful and worth a place on your book shelf.
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