Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review- My take on Bike Snob NYC

Afterthoughts on my latest Read: Bike Snob NYC

When not building or restoring bicycles, riding bicycles or ranting about any bicycle related topics, or when my toddler keeps me from venturing into the outdoors and I'm stuck at home with a case of severe cabin fever,  sometimes I read. Although not an active reader (the last book I read from cover to cover for purely recreational reasons was six years ago) I sometimes will indulge in this very fleeting and occasional hobby.

So let's discuss my latest read Bike Snob by self acclaimed bike snob, Eben Weiss.  This book is a must have and should be on every dedicated cyclist's bookshelf. It's a book that cyclists and non-cyclists alike can enjoy and take something out of. 

This book starts out with a timeline narrative of the introduction of cycling and it's rise to fame in the late 19th century. Eben Weiss attempts to follow a bike route recommended  by a newspaper from that era, only to find that the picturesque landscapes and finely paved country roads have been replaced by the hustle and bustle of a modern New York City. Weiss points out that even though the landscape has changed that New York still holds the frame of what it once was.

Bike Snob invites us to look inside ourselves as cyclists and characterizes the different groups of cyclists out there and why they like or distrust one another. For example, according to Bike Snob's classifications I'm somewhere between a righteous cyclist and a retro-grouch. That is to say that I care about the environment enough to ride my bike and like mostly vintage bicycles. Not that I take any extreme sides; I'm also a cross between a roadie, mountain biker and a lone wolf. Triathletes are triple agents who clandestinely go in and out the cycling world and ride their bikes without socks, seldom trusted in the cycling community, as Weiss cleverly points out. 

Bike Snob also relates his views on the way cycling is marketed and perceived by non-cyclists. Weiss shows the folly of upgrading your commuter bike just to have it stolen later. He recounts his own experience with bike theft, having his Cannondale road bike stolen as a bike messenger. He pimp slaps all those who obsessive compulsively clean every detail of their precious bicycles while neglecting their ride time, or being too afraid to ride their bikes in harsh environments (Still, I'll take riding my bike in the winter time in NYC than a hot 105 degree afternoon in Texas).

I found this book very informational and a useful tool to explain to others why I'm such a bike-obsessed freak. Rather than rationalizing with others about my views on cycling, I can just pull out this book and let them borrow it for a week as reference material (provided they return it and not peel off the bumper stickers on the back page). 

Stay tuned for more book reviews as I follow up with The Enlightened Cyclist, the sequel of Bike Snob and other cycling books.

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