Biking Book Recommendations During the Pandemic
Compiled by SDMB board member Kirk Astroth
So, you’re holed up, it's hotter than Hades, sheltering in place and trying to stay away from the respiratory cloud of other outdoor enthusiasts. But you’re still missing biking, right? So why not curl up on the couch or patio with a good book about biking? SDMB has got you covered with some great recommendations that will take your mind off these crazy times and keep you from being bored.
Want to grab one of these books? We'd appreciate it if you kept your money local by supporting a Tucson business like Antigone Books or Bookman's. Local businesses are essential to a thriving and diverse community, and they need our support now more than ever. If you can't find the book you want locally and want to purchase online, please consider Amazon Smile and choose SDMB as your charity so that a portion of the purchase price comes back to help us build and maintain trails!
· Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike, by Grant Petersen (2012). The author worked in retail with bikes for years and was a racer. He wrote this book primarily to counter racing’s bad influence on biking and to encourage people to jettison the influences of racing that make your bike riding less fun. Among his messages: Don’t wear ridiculous outfits just to ride your bike; Don’t suffer in the name of speed; Don’t ride bikes that don’t make sense for you. He covers everything from helmets, pedals, riding techniques and upkeep. Spoiler alert: He wears plaid longsleeve shirts when riding.
· Into Thick Air: Biking to the Bellybutton of Six Continents, by Jim Malusa (2008). Malusa is a Tucson-based writer who was oddly influenced by Jon Krakauer’s book, Into Thin Air. Malusa decides to do the opposite—venture to the world’s lowest places and the thickest air. Armed with plenty of sunscreen, water and a sleeping bag, this book chronicles his 6 year anti-summit adventures to the Dead Sea, he rode his bike from Tucson to Death Valley, and the lowest points on four other continents (Antartica was left out for obvious reasons). Well-written, humorous and entertaining, you can’t wait to read about his next venture.
· The Coyote's Bicycle: The Untold Story of Seven Thousand Bicycles and the Rise of a Borderland Empire, by Kimball Taylor (2016). Taylor has mainly written about surfing, but when he stumbled upon large piles of used bicycles near the border in San Diego, he was determined to find out why they were there. He ends up unveiling a complicated web of intrigue and scheming involving more than 7,000 bikes that are used by migrants to cross the border, but then the bikes end up in US prisons, in the US military, Hollywood and the black market. All run by one man—El Negro and his shadowy accomplice Indio from Oaxaca.
· Eat, Sleep, Ride: How I Braved Bears, Badlands, and Big Breakfasts in My Quest to Cycle the Tour Divide, by Pau Howard (2011). This book recounts the author’s experience riding in the Continental Divide race in 2010 from Canada to Mexico, the longest mountain bike ride in the world—over 2,700 miles and 500 miles longer than the Tour de France and with the equivalent elevation gain of 7 Mt. Everests. And the guy has never ridden a mountain bike before although to be fair he did ride in the Tour. Well-written and humorous with hand-drawn maps of his route. You won’t be able to put this book down.
· The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance, by David Herlihy (2010). The author chronicles the story of Frank Lenz from Pittsburgh who in 1892 set out to cycle around the world on a new-fangled kind of bicycle with inflatable tires. Two years later and after surviving countless disasters and travails, he disappeared in Turkey on his approach to the end in Europe. His disappearance sparked a world outrage and reporters were sent out to find out what happened to Lenz.
· Full Tilt: From Ireland to India with a Bicycle, by Dervla Murphy (1987). In 1963, this young woman set off, alone, on a bike to ride to the base of the Himalayas. She took minimal support gear and hardly any food, counting on the goodness of people along the way. She had an incredible experience, particularly in Afghanistan where she had to disguise herself as a man so she could pass through rural villages. (Aside: If you like this book, you should read some of her numerous other books of adventure. She is the definition of “intrepid.”)
· It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels, by Robert Penn (2011). Lance Armstrong might has suggested that it was NOT about the bike, but Penn disagrees. He has pedaled nearly every day of his adult life and traveled over 25,000 miles on a bike. Finally, he decided he need to build the “perfect bike” that he would ride for the rest of his life. This book is about his epiphany about biking wherein he explores the culture, science, and history of the bicycle. It explains why we bike. A very entertaining and informing book about all the components of why great bikes are great.
· Ultimate High: My Everest Odyssey, by Goran Kropp (1997). Kropp was a 35-year old Swede who always wanted to climb Mt. Everest, so he set out in 1995 from Sweden on his bike, riding all the way to Nepal and the base of Mount Everest. He summited without oxygen, almost died on the summit, and then biked home to write about it all. Sadly, Kropp died in a rock-climbing accident in eastern Washington state in 2002.
· No Shit! There I was....A Collection of Wild Stories From Wild People, by Michael Hodgson (1994). Hodgson has collected a variety of short humorous essays and stories about adventure and misadventure. All pieces were submitted as part of a writing contest and includes the best stories.
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