11 August 2010

It's All About The Bike - Robert Penn

I had the pleasure of reading a new cycling book recently. "It's All About the Bike - The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels" by British author Robert Penn.

It is a great read and the premise is so simple that you wonder why it wasn't done before. Rob decided he wanted the perfect bike. Not THE perfect bike... HIS perfect bike. The bike of his own personal dreams. He set off on a global pursuit to acquire all the bits and pieces that would end up being his dream ride. A bicycle he can grow old with.

He knows his gear and his journey sends him to Portland for a headset, to Italy for drive train, forks and handlebars, Germany for tires, Switzerland for rims and Belgium for spokes - wheels assembled in California where he also rides the Repack with Breeze and Kelly - and he travels about the UK to get his fingers on a frame, hubs and a saddle.

The journey is punctuated with nuggets of historical references which provides a perfect balance. It's an entertaining read and a key to the mind of a passionate man who loves to ride bicycles. I don't give a toss about the whole gear thing, but the book was accessible and welcoming even to 'people like me'. :-)

"The bicycle saves my life every day. If you’ve ever experienced a moment of awe or freedom on a bicycle; if you’ve ever taken flight from sadness to the rhythm of two spinning wheels, or felt the resurgence of hope pedalling to the top of a hill with the dew of effort on your forehead; if you’ve ever wondered, swooping bird-like down a long hill on a bicycle, if the world was standing still; if you have ever, just once, sat on a bicycle with a singing heart and felt like an ordinary man touching the gods, then we share something fundamental. We know it’s all about the bike."

Here's the team from Particular Books/Penguin on their way to the book launch last month. On bicycles, of course. You can read reviews of the book from the links on Rob's website - robpenn.net

It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels is published by Particular Books/Penguin on 29 July 2010 in the UK, and by Bloomsbury in the USA in Spring 2011.