Tuesday, June 28, 2011

From the Library: It's All About the Bike...

Admittedly, the first time I saw this one on the bookstore shelf, I passed up on it. Not the type of read I was looking for at the time; oh, I could have read through it, but did I really want to? Would I have taken anything away from the reading? Doubts conspired, and I looked elsewhere. Second time by, and I am glad I snatched it up, as it turned out to be far more interesting than I gave credit.

The synopsis: Man wants new bike, but not just any new bike. The bike the author dreams of, and troubles over was to be completely custom from the ground up. I am not talking about the kind of nice bike you buy from a shop and then upgrade over time, until it has all the components that you want. No, this is the story of a man in pursuit of the perfect bicycle - custom frame (material, size, geometry, paint), with just the right selection of components to finish it off, to create the bike of a lifetime. In order to accomplish this the author travels to the various factories and shops where all these components originate, or are built and constructed, and in the process shares the histories of these manufacturers, their founders, and the people who work in them today.

From the tires (Continental), to the saddle (Brooks), to the handlebars (Cinelli), and everything in between, the story of this build is part personal experience and part history of the bicycle as we know it today, as well as its early predecessors. This is a very pleasurable read. I suppose most of us velogeeks would jump at the chance to experience a journey such as this, but few have the time or means to pursue the dream. Read this if you are interested in the historical vantage of bicycling, or if you are interested in the thought process of building a custom bike, or for the various personalities the author meets along the way. Even though this is a story about a road bike, I confess to receiving the biggest kick out of the authors opportunity to ride Repack with Charlie Kelly and Joe Breeze while visiting the Bay area in the pursuit of his perfect wheelset. 

Penn, Robert   It's All About The Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels   NY: Bloomsbury, 2010

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