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The Art of Cycling: A Guide to Bicycling in 21st-Century America Paperback – October 1, 2006
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While there are thousands of books on bicycling, this is the best book I’ve come across for offering lots of hard-earned, practical advice for staying alive. Happily, Hurst is a skilled writer with a passion for history, so he weaves a tale that gives historical and even philosophical perspective in a manner I found totally engaging. . . . [A] gem of a book.”
"With a spot-on foreword written by Luna downhiller Marla Streb and a detailed index of footnotes and bibliography, Hurst has compiled a cerebral but hip manifesto for [urban] cyclists looking to coexist in a system that has left them to fend for their lives." -- VeloNews, Journal of Competitive Cycling
From the Back Cover
Bask in it, appreciate it, love it.
The Art of Cycling empowers readers with the big picture of riding a bicycle in Americaand gives cyclists useful insights to consider while pedaling the next commute, grocery run, or training ride. Riding a bike will never be the same.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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One gripe is that the book seems written more for people on road bikes, in a bent-over position, going at racing speeds, rather than the relaxed cyclist riding an upright commuter. He says at least 3 times that an upright riding position is for beginners, and that as you get more experience, you will naturally gravitate toward the more bent over position. I think that everyone should ride the style of bike that they prefer. If you want to bend over and go fast, do that. If you want to sit upright and go slower, do that. But he seems to feel that the *only* way to cycle is on a bent-over road bike, and if you prefer anything else, then you obviously don't know what you're doing. During a brief overview on the helmet controversy, the author refers to the fact that CPSC approval means that helmets are certified to protect your head at a 14 mph impact. He then goes on to say, "Obviously, CPSC's testing conditions are exceeded regularly by any decent cyclist on the way to the grocery store."
I say, what's the hurry? If you want to treat every single cycling trip as a race, that's your business, but it's certainly not the way every single person wants to ride. I live three miles from work, and about 2 miles from many of my errands, so I see no reason not go at a relaxed pace. I realize that the book was trying to appeal to a large audience, and the vast majority of American cyclists seem to see bicycling as an extreme sport. I prefer to see it as a method of transportation.
Still, I think this book could be worth reading. In addition to the sections I mentioned above, there are chapters on basic bike maintenance as well as information on equipment. So I will say that I recommend this book (but with reservations) for commuters looking for good basic information and an overview of some important issues.
Unfortunately, this is one of those books that would be better in a dead tree book. For one thing, he makes footnotes whenever he quotes something. These notes are sometimes quite detailed, and the references go to a special part in the back of the book. Flipping back & forth is not convenient on a Kindle. The other thing is that some images are mingled into a picture, and the font is tiny & hard to read. If you have a Kindle DX, it is no big deal. On a Kindle or Kindle 2, it is TINY. You'd better have 20/20 vision if you're going to read those parts.
There is some solid survival tips for cyclists here. It is 90% applicable toward urban cycling; only one tiny chapter on suburban cycling. Also, the author continually repeats that when a cyclist gets hit, it is his own fault for not being alert enough. To some extent, this is true. But to put all the blame on the cyclist every time? Get real, Robert. We can't realistically slow down at every green light to make sure no one's going to blow it. We can't anticipate when someone is going to left turn in front of us when we're going 20+ mph.
Aside from these points, it is a great book. No regrets buying, I just wish I'd bought it paper format instead.
This book is simply the best of its kind. More about a philosophy, an outlook than any specifics. And that philosophy is grounded in the real world of cyclists. No real dogma, no hard core puritan idealism. Just plain practical reality based upon lots of experience and deeper thinking about the topic of cycling safety.
It is more along the lines of teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.
My first few rides after reading it I was noticing things in the book that ordinarily I didn't. I was cycling in a safer manner just knowing an approach similar to the one in this book. Not to mention several specific examples that apply to my riding.
The organization also allows for me to review and follow other's comments on particular sections. So I've read ahead based on reviews at times.
All in all a fascinating book for the active cyclist. The only omission is one often overlooked by bicyclists: growth in the electric assist cycling. Not as an intrusion to purists who bike without auxiliary power, but as a practical extension for the many who would otherwise NEVER take their bikes beyond a few miles from home! This is not an area covered by motorcyclists or their "biker" books or mags either.