Top critical review
One person found this helpful
on July 1, 2015
I had been riding my bicycle long distances for half a dozen years before I read a word on the subject. It didn't seem like there was much to say about it: You get on the bike, and then you put one foot in front of another. Fast or slow, eventually you get there, and with practice, you're able to go farther and faster. It's not like learning to play chess. It's a simple pastime, a way to see the countryside and get some fresh air, and have an experience on the cheap. Right?
For better or worse, "Long-Distance Cycling" pretty much confirms my prejudice. The training advice boils down to "ride your bike a lot, sometimes at a high level of exertion, but mostly low. Don't train too hard though!" There's a few chapters on selecting equipment, the thrust of which is mostly "buy more expensive bike parts than Alexander Kobulnicky can afford."
Most of their advice is stuff you just figure out on your own: If your digestion suffers, try taking anti-diarrhea medication. Eat and drink as much as you can stomach, but no more. And sometimes it's not really advice at all. If your bike seat is chafing you, they say, try shifting around and sitting in different postures. (Who needs a brainstem when you have a book like this?)
This may well be a useful book for competition-grade long-distance cyclists. I couldn't possibly judge, and I'm sure Amazon wouldn't want me to. But as somebody who just rides 180 miles to while away the time, I still find three appealing things about it:
First, paradoxically, it's useful to know that there isn't some trick that I had been missing all these years. For all the blather about lactic acid and aero bars, it really *isn't* much more complicated than putting one foot in front of another.
Second, there are still some useful tidbits: The best kind of candy bars to buy at a convenience store, the best kind of stretches to do for back pain, that sort of thing.
Third, there are some passages that are deligtfully off-the-wall. We're warned that fainting from heat exhaustion is most likely to occur when we stop -- so don't stop at the top of a hill. In another chapter, there's a subheading titled "Techniques for Staying Awake," telling you the key to "preventing or at least minimizing hallucinations," and recommending that you "make a game of how much you can see around you at night." You cannot make this stuff up.