RSS

Category Archives: Book Reviews

Reviews of books about distance cycling, touring, training and the bicycle industry

Weight Training For Cyclists: A Total Body Program For Power And Endurance

Weight Training For Cyclists

Weight Training For Cyclists

The majority of cyclists I meet took up the sport to improve their health. There is no question that cycling will improve your aerobic fitness and endurance, but it will very little for upper body fitness. Even if you have no intention of ever participating in a race you still need to engage in some sort of resistance training to improve your sprinting and climbing, as well as increasing your bone density (cyclists have a tendency to develop low bone density). While there are many good books available on developing a weight training program, there are very few that focus on the special needs of cyclists. The best book I’ve read on this topic is Weight Training For Cyclists: A Total Body Program For Power & Endurance, by Ken Doyle and Eric Schmitz.

Some people mistakenly believe that cycling and weight training do not make good partners—they think that building bulk is counterproductive to the goal most cyclists have of being as light as possible. However, without a strong core you are going to have trouble every time you ride! Strong lower back and abdominal muscles are crucial if you want to ride very long in the drops.

Weight Training For Cyclists starts by explaining the pros and cons of the different types of resistance exercise equipment that are available (free weights, resistance machines, and resistance bands). There are also sections on nutrition, safety, efficiency and how to develop a program based on the type of cycling you engage in. As the book observes, most cyclists are their own trainers and set their own training program.

If one paragraph from the book could summarize the premise of the book it would be this: “The main focus of a weight training program should be the lower-body muscle groups that create the force applied to the pedals. This area of the body, often labeled the ‘power zone,’ consists of the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, lower-back muscles, and abdominals and is the fundamental source of strength and power in cycling.”

There are more than 60 exercises described and illustrated in this book. My only criticism of the book is that it focuses too much on pieces of equipment that most cyclists are not going to have at home (back extension bench, high pulley machine, cable row machine, multihip machine, etc.). However, you can still get a great workout with a weight bench, a pair of dumbbells and a few resistance bands.

Weight Training For Cyclists is a 212 page paperback book and retails for $19. It is available on Amazon.com for $12 (and remember you can get free shipping on orders over $25). This book is published by Velo Press.

 
23 Comments

Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cycling Home From Siberia by Rob Lilwall

Cycling Home From Siberia by Rob Lilwall

Cycling Home From Siberia

Most “adventure cycling” books tell the story of some brave cyclist as they travel through a foreign county while on summer vacation. Very few cycling adventures start in the dead of winter, and especially not leaving from Magadan, Siberia—one of the coldest inhabited places in the world! Cycling Home From Siberia tells the story of Rob Lilwall’s bike trip from Siberia back to his home in London, England three years later. This 30,000 mile journey took him through some of the most remote places on the globe and allowed him to see the world as few very other people ever will.

Lilwall’s journey began in 2004 and by the time it was over he had cycled through Russia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, China, Tibet, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium and England (I hope I didn’t miss anyone).

During the first leg of his journey Lilwall was accompanied by an old school friend, Al Humphreys, but when they got to Japan they decided to part ways. Lilwall made this journey on a ten-year old steel-framed mountain bike he named Alanis. By the time he loaded the bike up with four panniers, a bar bag, and two canoe bags it weighed 130 pounds! On the second day of their trip the paved roads stopped and they would not see them again for nearly 3,000 more miles. On the fourth day, having traveled less than 300 miles, the snow started to fall and they quickly learned what slipping and sliding on the ice was like—and daytime temperatures of -30C were common. I enjoy riding in such conditions, but only for a few hours at a time! Lilwall and Humphreys seldom had a chance to warm up during this leg of their journey. Lilwall had to stick a glove down his crotch just to keep his private parts warm! To make matters worse, they even got robbed at gunpoint while in Russia.

By the time Lilwall finished the Siberian leg of his journey he had cycled over 3,300 miles, consumed 189 chocolate bars and over 100 packets of instant noodles. When Lilwall finished his trip he had repaired a total of 157 tire punctures (not a record I wish to ever break).

I had thought about writing a very long review for this book, but decided just to give you a glimpse of the first couple of chapters. I always read books with a yellow highlighter at hand so I can mark the sections of a book  I find interesting. However, by the time I finished reading this book I think about a third of the pages had sections highlighted. If you love adventure cycling books this one will not leave you disappointed!

Cycling Home From Siberia is over 400 pages long and once you get started it will be had to put down. This book is published by Howard Books, a division Simon and Schuster. I mention the publisher only because this book is a model for the way adventure cycling books should to be printed. The book has an easy-to-read typeface, numerous photographs and good maps so you won’t feel lost along the way.

The paperback version of Cycling Home From Siberia retails for $15, but you can order it from Amazon.com for $13. This book is also available in a Kindle edition for $12.

 
17 Comments

Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Travels With Willie, Adventure Cyclist

Travels With Willie, Adventure Cyclist

Travels With Willie by Willie Weir

I love reading books about those brave souls who travel the world on a bicycle. Most “adventure cycling” books have a similar style, i.e., they trace the route of some cyclist and tell you about the challenges they faced and the beautiful scenery they passed along the way. Travels With Willie, Adventure Cyclist is different—it is a collection of stories by Willie Weir that covers a lifetime of cycling on six continents. This book serves as an inspiration to those timid folks who want to see the world, but don’t want to take any chances.

Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine, and a well-known writer, photographer, and public speaker. Weir has traveled the world in a way that most people would seek to avoid—riding on a bike during the day and sleeping in barns, train stations, police stations, or setting up a tent in the backyard of people he has just met. Weir does not describe himself as an “avid cyclist,” but as “an avid traveler who has discovered that cycling is the best way to see the world.” He encourages people to skip the (usually wasted) years of learning a foreign language and just pick a country, pack your bike, and go! Yes, you probably need to learn how to say “Hello,” “Thank you,” and “How much?,” but most people around the world are willing to help a foreign traveler if you will just give them a chance.

As one who has had the opportunity to travel a good portion of the world, I sincerely appreciate what Weir is trying to do in his book, i.e., to get people to move out of their comfort zone and see the world without the constraints of an itinerary that has been carved into stone. When most Americans travel overseas they seem to see the same sites, eat in the same restaurants, and take the same photographs as everyone else. By traveling the back roads Weir was able to ride his bike to “roadside restaurants that haven’t seen a foreigner in years, to local festivals not listed and recommended in the Lonely Planet, to the shade of a tree shared with local school kids, to a police station or a monastery and a safe place to sleep.”

Every time I get ready to travel overseas I have well-meaning friends who try to talk me out of going because they heard on the news “that things are getting really dangerous over there” (regardless of where “there” happens to be). Weir offers this bit of sage advice: just ask people this one little question, “Have you been there?” If they haven’t been there then they don’t have a clue about the situation in some other country. I live in the far-north suburbs of Chicago and have never been to a city in the Middle East that was more dangerous than the Windy City. Yes, the world can be a dangerous place, but probably not as dangerous as any big city in America. If you wait till the time is perfect for overseas travel you are never going to go anywhere. In Travels With Willie Weir tells you lessons he has learned from people all over the world—people in Cuba, Colombia, Turkey, Bosnia, Thailand and many places in-between.

My admiration for Weir really increased when he described how he and his wife rode their bikes up to the top of Mt. Nemrut in southeastern Turkey. Mt. Nemrut is a World Heritage site and a monument built by King Antiochus around 50 B.C. (he was a megalomaniac of the highest order). I visited Mt. Nemrut a few years ago with two of my friends, but we ascended the mountain in a small van and it took several hours to make our way to the top. Unbelievably, Weir and his wife rode to the top of the mountain on their bikes and then spent the night there—I truly envy them—not for the pain they endured on the way up, but for them being able to be there the following morning as the sun came up over one of the most fascinating places on earth!

Travels With Willie retails for $15 in the paperback version, and for $10 on the Kindle. While you can order this book from Amazon.com, I would suggest you buy it directly from the author (he offers free shipping for orders within the U.S.). Even if you never take you bike outside of the town you live in, you will learn a lot about the world and maybe this will encourage you to get a Passport and start using it!

 
9 Comments

Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Rails-To-Trails Guidebook Series

Rails-To-Trails Guidebook for cyclists

Rails-To-Trails Guidebook

One of my favorite nonprofit organizations is the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. For over 25 years they have been at the forefront of the movement to turn abandoned railroad corridors into multi-use trails for walking, hiking and cycling. There are now over 20,000 miles of converted rail lines scattered across the United States. Some of these trails are only a few miles long, while others, like the Katy Trail State Park in Missouri, seem to go on forever (well, 225 miles to be exact). Finding these trails on your own would be a nightmare! Fortunately, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has published a series of six guidebooks that cover the trails in over 25 states.

The Rails-Trails: Midwest Guidebook covers 113 trails in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. Like the other books in this series, this guidebook is loaded with maps! The book is divided into sections by state, and there is a map at the beginning of each section to show you where the trails are located, then another map and description for each trail. Each entry has information about the trailheads, parking, directions, public restrooms, trail length and trail roughness (based on a scale of one to three).

While I have not been able to ride on every trail in this book, I have been on enough of them to draw some general conclusions about the quality of the information provided. As far as I can tell, both the maps and descriptions are excellent! You should have not trouble finding any of the trailheads or a place to park, and all the maps are drawn to scale.

As much as I like this book, I do have major concerns about what is missing, i.e., information that could save your life! Let me explain using the example of the section dealing with the Robert McClory Bike Path in Lake County, Illinois (a trail I’ve used several hundred times). The information about this trail sounds like it was written by the local Chamber of Commerce—it talks about the history of the trail and the beautiful scenery on the southern part of the trail, including the golf courses, woodlands and neighborhood gardens. Unfortunately, it fails to mention that the northern end of this trail runs through one of the highest crime areas in Illinois—it is not uncommon for cyclists to get robbed on this trail (and sometimes beaten as well). It would have also been helpful if they would have mentioned that the locals call this trail The Glass Highway, due to the overabundance of broken glass (mainly from broken beer bottles). Because I live near this trail I still often use it, but only on an old bike with Kevlar belted tires and inner-tubes filled with Slime. On several occasions I’ve met cyclists on this trail who were scared out of their wits and trying to find a different way home.

The Rails-Trails Guidebooks vary in price from $15.95 to $18.95 and are available from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Online Store.

 
 

Tags: , , , ,

Eat, Sleep, Ride by Paul Howard

Eat, Sleep, Ride by Paul Howard - Ride the Tour Divide

Eat, Sleep, Ride by Paul Howard

For the past few years I’ve followed the Tour Divide, a self-supported bike race that follows the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route—over 2,700 miles of mountains, snow, gravel roads, logging trails and muddy paths. Sometimes the trails are so bad that instead of riding it becomes a “hike-a-bike” session. The race starts each June in Banff, Alberta, Canada and ends at the border of Mexico in Antelope Wells, New Mexico (USA). I recently read Paul Howard’s account of his experiences during the 2009 Tour Divide. His book, Eat, Sleep, Ride: How I Braved Bears, Badlands and Big Breakfasts in My Quest to Cycle the Tour Divide, is definitely worth your time!

Howard, a British citizen from southern England, never owned a mountain bike until he decided to race in the Tour Divide. His brief training for this ride was rather unorthodox—it appears as though he was willing to “wing it” and “learn by doing” (fortunately, he was a quick learner). In the Tour Divide riders are not allowed any planned support, nor are riders allowed to assist each other. Some riders sleep outside every night, while others are sometimes willing to pay for a hotel room for a few hours of rest and an opportunity to wash their clothes. Unlike many riders, Howard decided to travel the route without a camp stove or water filter, but did take a tent (instead of a bivvy bag).

Except for a few tire punctures, Howard’s bike apparently held up well during the ride. As is common in races like this, other cyclists were not so fortunate. Rugged mountain roads and bikes loaded down with gear are not a good combination—cyclists often have trouble keeping their wheels trued. Even if you are out in the woods truing a wheel is not that difficult if you have a spoke tool (they are found on most bicycle mini-tools). However, it seems that some tour riders never took the time to learn how to make simple repairs to their own bikes!

Howard has a rather dry sense of humor and his perspective on American customs and society is fun to read. Until this race he had never been in a Walmart before (what a lucky guy). On more than one occasion he made snide comments about how fat many Americans are—I’m just glad he didn’t visit a Walmart in Wisconsin!

Eat, Sleep, Ride is very well written and a joy to read. Instead of providing professional maps, this book has maps that look like they were drawn by a bored high school student—this is actually a compliment! Though the maps are hand-drawn and not to scale, I actually liked them better than in any other adventure cycling book I’ve ever read.

I do have two criticisms of the book. First, there is not a single photograph in the book! Second, though it is not absolutely necessary, I prefer adventure cycling books to include a detailed gear checklist (I like to know exactly what distance cyclists take with them on their journeys).

Eat, Sleep, Ride is available as a paperback book (272 pages) and retails for $17, but you can find it on Amazon.com for under $12. It is also available in the Kindle edition for $10.

 
18 Comments

Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

No Hands: The Rise And Fall Of Schwinn Bicycle

No Hands: The Rise And Fall Of Schwinn Bicycle

No Hands

In 1895 a German immigrant to the United States by the name of Ignaz Schwinn founded the Schwinn Bicycle Company in Chicago, Illinois. After the invention of the automobile the sale of bicycles in America declined and many of the more than 300 bicycle manufacturers were in financial difficulty. Schwinn seized the opportunity to buy up these troubled companies (and their valuable patents) and in the process built of the best known brand names in the world. At one time Schwinn Bicycle Company was as powerful and innovative as Apple is today. No Hands: The Rise and Fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Company, an American Institution tells the story of how this once powerful company was destroyed by incompetent leadership in the 1980’s and was later forced into bankruptcy. This book was co-authored by Judith Crown and Glenn Coleman, who at the time of writing were journalists with Crain’s Chicago Business.

When I was a child my first “real bike” was a Schwinn Sting-Ray (with a fat rear slick tire, banana seat, chrome fenders, coaster brake, and a on-the-frame gear shift). When I got a bit older my father bought me a Schwinn Collegiate 10-speed. My father bought both of these bikes based upon his love for quality engineering, and when Schwinn had “an obsession with quality.” Unfortunately, like most Americans, I put my bicycle away the day I got my first car. Twenty-five years later when I decided to take up cycling again the first bike I looked at was a Schwinn—not knowing that they went into bankruptcy in 1992 and company name had been sold. The Schwinn bicycle sold today bears no resemblance to the quality of bikes I rode as a child, so I passed on buying a Schwinn and purchased a Trek instead (actually I bought four of them).

Crown and Coleman open the book with a story from the 1970’s. A team of engineers from Schwinn headquarters in Chicago flew out to Marin County California to talk to a young racer and entrepreneur named Gary Fisher (“Spidey”) about what was considered to be a new niche market at the time—mountain bikes. These brilliant engineers thought Fisher was a jerk and knew that no one would ever be interested in buying a mountain bike. The book quotes Fisher as saying, “The Schwinn engineers were going, ‘We know bikes. You guys are all amateurs. We know better than anybody.” This is just one example of many where Schwinn management misread the market and this led to their demise.

Part of the problem with Schwinn was an outdated business model. Maybe a bigger problem was that in the 1970’s, “through the miracle of nepotism,” the company was run by men with MBAs who didn’t know how to ride a bike. Then in the 1980’s their workers voted to join the UAW (a kiss of death for sure). By the late 1980’s Schwinn had opened a factory in Hungary and their advertising posters on streetcars in Budapest had the slogan, “They’re not as bad as you think.”

Even if you never owned a Schwinn bicycle you ought to read this book if you have any interest in the industry. You will probably never find a better history of the bicycle industry than in this book. You can read of how Schwinn dealt with competitors like Raleigh and upstart companies like Shimano, Trek, Cannondale, Specialized and Giant.

No Hands is a joy to read and serves as a cautionary tale for manufacturers today. The hardback  book is 350 pages long and is extremely well documented. Now for the bad news: this book was published in 1996 and is now out of print. However, you can still find gently used copies on Amazon.com and they sell for around $35. I know that price is kind of high for a used book, but if you have any interest in the bicycle industry you need to get a copy.

 
17 Comments

Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

Tags: , ,

Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across The Great Divide, by Jill Homer

Be Brave, Be Strong - A Journey Across The Great Divide, by Jill Homer

Be Brave, Be Strong

Every sports fan can give you a list of the heroes, icons and living legends of their favorite sport. I suppose most American cycling fans dream about going out for a long ride with great athletes like Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie or Levi Leipheimer. While I truly admire these men, if I had the chance to spend an afternoon cycling with anyone in America I would choose endurance cyclist Jill Homer. You will never see Jill Homer in the Tour de France, but her athletic ability makes those guys look like a bunch of wimps. I’ve read her blog, Jill Outside, for several years and a few months I reviewed Ghost Trails, a book about her 350 mile race along Alaska’s Iditarod Trail in 2008. I just finished reading her latest book, Be Brave, Be Strong, which tells the story of her record-breaking ride across the Great Divide.

The 2009 Tour Divide was a race that began in Alberta, Canada and ended on the border of Mexico at Antelope Wells, New Mexico. The 2,740 mile course went through some of the roughest paths, trails and logging roads in the United States. Homer finished this harsh course unassisted (but with a little “trail magic”) in twenty-four days, seven hours and twenty-four minutes (the female course record). During the race the riders crossed the Continental Divide of the Americas (the Great Divide) on numerous occasions and they seldom had a chance to ride on a decent road since the race organizers apparently take a great deal of pleasure in making race participants suffer. In just a little over three weeks Homer did over 200,000 feet of climbing through some of the most deserted tracks and trails in the United States. Along the way she often slept in a sleeping bag near the side of the road, but was also the recipient of random acts of kindness by total strangers.

The first third of Be Brave, Be Strong sets the stage by telling the story of Homer getting a serious case of frostbite on the Iditarod Trail and then dealing with her break-up with Geoff, her boyfriend of eight years, and the emotional turmoil that followed. Normally, this is the type of stuff I would totally ignore in book about a bike race. However, in this case the story is told in such a way that you can see how human emotions impact athletic ability—and as any cyclist knows, one of the best ways to solve a problem is out on a long ride.

The story of the Tour Divide race itself begins on page 111 when a group of forty-two riders leave Banff, Alberta, which is about 270 miles north of Canada’s border with the United States. I think most professional athletes would consider Homer’s training program and cycling style unorthodox, but it obviously works for her. Throughout the book she refers to Sour Patch Kids, one of her favorite sources of carbohydrates—I cringed every time she mentioned them. And as careful as she was about most things, she somehow manged to lose seven pair of sunglasses during the race!

Out of all the adventure cycling books I’ve ever read this one is the best—once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down! This book is a model of what adventure cycling books ought to be. The story is well written, the photos are crisp, and it has a good map so you can follow her progress. It also has one item that most cycling books forget about, i.e., a detailed gear checklist. I’m sure some people wouldn’t care, but I always like to know exactly what distance cyclists take with them on their journey (not just a general list, but brand names).

Be Brave, Be Strong is available in paperback from Amazon.com for around $15. It is also available in several other formats, including editions for the Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle, B & N Nook, Sony eReader and as a PDF download. I bought the paperback version because I can’t read a book like this without a yellow highlighter (old habits die hard).

 
19 Comments

Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Distance Cycling, Your Complete Guide For Long-Distance Rides

Distance Cycling by Hughes and Kehlenbach

Distance Cycling

How long is your average bike ride? Are you satisfied with your current distance or would you like to be able to ride a lot farther? My average bike ride is a metric century (60 miles) and I don’t think it is any big deal. However, I’ve met a lot of cyclists who think a 20 mile bike ride is major accomplishment. In my opinion anyone who can comfortably ride 20 miles is capable of raising that to 60 or 70 miles with just a few weeks of preparation. If you want to learn how to become a long-distance cyclist then you need to get a copy of Distance Cycling, a new book by John Hughes and Dan Kehlenbach.

The main focus of the book is preparing cyclists to ride a century (100 miles). Like nearly every other person who has read this book has lamented, I wish a book like this had been available when I started cycling. Everything I know about distance cycling I had to learn the hard way. In fact, one of the reasons I started this blog was to keep people from making the same mistakes I’ve made over the years.

Distance Cycling starts by helping you define your goals and offers practical guidance for baseline conditioning. It also introduces you to the concept of prehabilitation, i.e., “recognizing the potential for injury and implementing specific exercises to prevent problems rather than trying to repair the damage afterward.” This section alone is worth the price of the book!

The section on “Fueling the Distance Cyclist” will probably change the way you eat on a bike forever. Too many people take up cycling “to lose weight” and starve themselves while out on the bike—then come home and “pig out.” Once you learn to properly fuel up you will find longer rides a lot easier to handle.

In addition to the proper nutrition you also need the right equipment, and this book will help you select the perfect gear for the type of ride you are planning for. Cycling-specific clothing can be expensive, so it is best to have some knowledge of what you need before you walk into a bike shop to try on clothing.

The training schedules suggested in this book are excellent, and they spend of good deal of time explaining the need to take plan time off the bike to help with muscle recovery. Near the end of the book they offer additional information for randonneuring and ultradistance riding.

While I highly recommend this book, there is one point that I do disagree with, i.e., the single paragraph dealing with vitamin supplements. Hughes and Kehlenbach are opposed to taking supplements, and even though they are experts in distance cycling I respectfully disagree with them on this point. Do the research yourself and see what works for you. If you are want to find out if your supplements are worthwhile, based upon current medical research, I would suggest you look at ConsumerLabs.com, an independent laboratory that tests the potency and quality of nutritional supplements.

Distance Cycling is a 259 page paperback book and retails for $20, but you can find it on Amazon.com for around $13. This book is published by Human Kinetics and was printed in the United States. I put this book in the “must buy” category for anyone who wants to tackle distance cycling.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie

Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie

Good Vibrations

I’ve always wanted to go on a month-long cycling trip, but until I can find the time to do so I have to settle on reading the adventures of other cyclists. A few weeks ago Andrew P. Sykes sent me a copy of his new book, Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie, and asked me to review it. The book is about his 2010 journey from his home in the south of England to a villa in the heel of Italy—a trip of over 1,800 miles (3,000km) that was completed in 37 days.

Sykes was not exactly an experienced distance-cyclist before this trip. In fact, he describes himself as “a fat middle-aged bloke” who teaches French at a secondary school in southern England. After two years of planning Sykes loaded up his panniers with clothing, maps, a few guide books, a sleeping bag, a camping mat, a medical kit and a repair kit for his bike. Sykes called his bike Reggie, which is short for Reggie Ridgeback Panorama (if you don’t have a nickname for each of your bikes you’re not much of a cyclist). In case you were wondering, Ridgeback Panorama is the name of a moderately priced British Cro Moly touring bike.

The adventure begins with Sykes wondering if he was going to be lonely on the trip since he was traveling alone. However, this appears to have never been the case—he found friendly and talkative people all the way from England to Italy. One of the more interesting aspects of the book is his description of sleeping in a tent in small campgrounds. I don’t think I would have any trouble cycling the miles (or kilometers) that Sykes did on a daily basis, but sleeping in a tent after a ride would definitely wear me down. He also devotes a few paragraphs to describe what it is like to share your tent with hungry mosquitoes—something I would rather avoid.

Since I cycle in all weather conditions I really hadn’t given touring cyclists much credit for spending hours in the rain—I do it all the time. However, after I’ve spent a few hours riding in the rain I come home to a nice dry house, grab a warm shower and my sweet wife launders my dirty clothing. When you are riding across several countries by bike and sleeping in a tent washing your clothing is rather difficult and there are times your washed clothing just doesn’t want to dry out.

My favorite part of the book was his time in Switzerland, and especially his approach to the St. Gotthard Pass and the crossing of the Swiss Alps. While I am no longer a Clydesdale, I am still not the lightest cyclist and hills are my least favorite part of cycling—we don’t have any mountains in my part of the world, so anyone who can cross the Alps on a bike really impresses me!

Every time a read a book about adventure cycling I try to learn from the mistakes of others. Sykes had the misfortune of breaking spokes on Reggie twice while on his journey—and neither time was he near a bicycle repair shop. If he had taken a few extra spokes with him he could have saved himself a lot of time and trouble. Spare spokes weight next to nothing and you can usually carry them in the seat tube of your bike. Even a basic bicycle multitool will often have a small device for repairing spokes—all you have to do is turn your bicycle upside down and use the brake pads as improvised calipers and the bike fork as a makeshift truing stand.

Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie is available as a paperback book for around $18 from Amazon.com, and in a Kindle edition for under $4. Sykes employs a relaxed writing style throughout the book and I am certain anyone interested in adventure cycling would really enjoy it.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, there are a couple of things I would suggest Sykes change before the second edition. First, the photographs in the book are rather small and a book like this just begs for larger photos. Second, while there is a small map at the beginning of the book I think a few more detailed maps would really help those of us who don’t live in Europe. Lastly, Sykes uses several foreign (to me) phrases and I really would have appreciated a translation of the words—I could usually make out the intended thought by looking at the context, but that slows the reading down a bit.

Sykes is already planning a trip from Athens, Greece to Cadiz, Spain for the summer of 2013. You can follow his adventures by visiting his Website, CyclingEurope.org.

 
17 Comments

Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comedian Mastermind: The Best Of FatCyclist.com

Comedian Mastermind, The Best Of FatCyclist.com

Comedian Mastermind by Elden Fatty Nelson

Elden “Fatty” Nelson started his blog, FatCyclist.com, back in 2005 as a way keeping track of his efforts to lose weight (he got up to 196 pounds, which, by American standards, is not that bad). Nelson has a warped and twisted sense of humor which is something appreciate in a cyclist. I started reading his blog about two years ago, so I missed out on the first few years of his efforts. Nelson recently published a collection of his best articles from 2005 through 2007 in a book titled, Comedian Mastermind: The Best Of FatCyclist.com 2005–2007.

Comedian Mastermind is not just a rambling collection of funny stories—Nelson took the time to organize his posts into categories, such as Fake News, Tour de Lance, Practical Guidance, Sinful Recipes, and Epic Rides. One of my favorite parts of the book was the “How To” section, where you can find useful advice such as: How to Spit, How to Crash With Panache, How to Not Get Invited on the Next Group Ride, and How to Pee Whilst Riding Your Bike (very informative material indeed).

If you are new to cycling there will be a few brief sections of the book that will not make a lot of sense to you. There are going to be events and people you might be not be familiar with. For example, Nelson takes several well-deserved shots at Al Trautwig, a man who allegedly was a sports commentator for Versus (formerly OLN). For reasons known only to the Almighty, Trautwig co-anchored coverage of the Tour de France from 2004 to 2007. If you have never heard of Al Trautwig before, well, your life has been blessed. Every morning I feed a dozen or so squirrels in my backyard and have even given names to most of them. There is one overweight squirrel with a bad attitude who just can’t get along with the rest of the group—I call this little guy Trautwig (I am not joking). The difference is that the squirrel has better hair and knows more about professional cycling that his namesake.

Comedian Mastermind is 307 pages and reading it will be time well spent (and enjoyed). The sells for $16 on Amazon.com and a Kindle edition is available for only $6. An autographed copy of the book (along with a note) is being sold on the FatCyclist.com Website for $40 (PayPal accepted).

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

Tags: , ,

 
Israel's Good Name

Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Mommyfriend

...finding perfection in imperfection daily.

road|THEORY

Cycling, pro cycling, and other stories

Ferrell's Travel Blog

Commenting on biblical studies, archaeology, travel and photography

ἐκλεκτικός

Steve Wolfgang's view of the world from suburban Chicago -- or wherever he may be on any given day

It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

And a 10K and a 200 Mile Bike Ride and an Obstacle Race and Anything Else We Find!

Shannon E. Williams

Gather. Discover. Cultivate.

BikeHikeSafari

Thru Hiking and Bicycle Touring the worlds best trails

the drunken cyclist

I have three passions: wine, cycling, travel, family, and math.

Long Distance Cycling Cleveland

We host a series of long distance preparation rides each weekend from January - June in the Cleveland, Ohio area

foodbod

healthy tasty food that I love to make and eat and share

grayfeathersblog

Diabetes, Cancer Survivor, Cycling, Photographer, Exercise, College Parent, Twins, Boy Scout Leader, Life

Travel Tales of Life

Never Too Old To Explore

Fatbike Brigade

Exploring the world on fatbikes

The HSD

What happens when a medical doctor becomes a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom

Raising Jordans

Eat. Play. Learn.

FueledByLOLZ

Running and Laughing through the Garden State

Tinkadventures

Inspiring Your Outdoor Adventures

The Bro Code

Putting The Hero Back In Action

Christov_Tenn

Always Thinking, Reading About, and Up To Something

Oregon Coast Cyclist

Adventures of a cyclist living in Lincoln City Oregon

A Promise to Dad

"You don't have anything if you don't have your health"

Triathlon Obsession

Triathlon, Sport and Healthy Living

XPLORE - Out & About

Without a care in the world...

The Chatter Blog

Living: All Day Every Day: Then Chattering About It

chasingmailboxes.wordpress.com/

ride your heart out. washington d.c.

Fit Recovery

Stay Clean Get Fit

Nancy Loderick's Blog

Musings on technology, marketing and life.

MTB blog from super happy Tokyo girl!

~マウンテンバイク初心者女子のチャリ日記~ Play hard, Ride tough, Eat a LOT then you got nothing to worry about!

aerodinamica

il blog di aerodinamica

Move and Be Well

Empowering others to find their balance of movement, nourishment, and self-care.

Dr. Maddy Day

Let's unpack your nutritional and emotional baggage.

Sip, clip, and go!

Cycling, off and on the road, in Western Mass

She's Losing It!

Fitness Book for Moms

Survival Bros by Cameron McKirdy

FREEDOM, PREPS, AND NEWS

Muddy Mommy

Adventures in Mud Racing, Marathons, & being a Mommy!

wife. mother. awesome girl.

just enough ahead of the curve to not be off the road completely

drworobec.wordpress.com/

A sport-loving chiropractor's blog about adventures in health, fitness, and parenthood.

TooTallFritz

Running Toward: Health, Wellness & PEACE ...................................................... Running From: Insanity, Screaming Children, Housework & a Big Ass

elisariva

Seizing life's joys and challenges physically, mentally, and emotionally.

arctic-cycler.com

arctic-cycler goes global.

%d bloggers like this: