Monday, April 13, 2009

Bicycling Book Review

Here's a great way to keep "mentally bicycling" during the cold-weather months. Read about it! Fiction, sports journalism, coffee table books ... there are shelves full of interesting, enjoyable, and enlightening things to read about bicycling. So let's start with a simple but fun genre, the Bike Travel Guide...

You know the type -- the "Best Rides in [enter your region here]" books. They usually have about 45 chapters or so, each of which details a particular bike ride in the area. Every chapter follows the same pattern: a map, a four or five paragraph description of the ride, and a step-by-step list of directions. Here's one I just bought:

Now for me, the fun of these books isn't just having them as a practical guide. It's using them to dream about a cool new ride in an unfamiliar place. I live in southern New England, so it may take me years before I pack my bike in a car, head up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and try the Franconia/Kinsman Notch Challenge (page 115). But just reading about it is thrilling in itself, and thinking someday...

"Road Biking -- Northern New England" is a great example of a Bike Travel Guide. It's well written by someone local to the area who is a bike rider herself. You can pick it up, start reading anywhere, and learn so much about this most mysterious, breathtaking, and beautiful part of the U.S. That's another great thing about bicycle travel guides ... they're fantastic local guidebooks in general. It says a lot about the nature of bike riding. We see life on a personal level, where a general store, a hill, or a winding road are monunents in themselves.

It's written by Sandy Duling and published by Falcon Guides (Pequot Press).

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