The Practical Cyclist

by: Heather on 02/23/2009
Posted in: New Books

Just off press, The Practical Cyclist by Chip Haynes is a user-friendly guide to getting back on a bicycle for the most important reason of all - fun! Of course cycling is also good for your health, your waistline, your pocketbook and your planet, but if you're not enjoying it the chances are good that you're not going to do it.

In Chip's own words:

Let me give you the good news first (since there really is no bad news): riding a bicycle is fun. It's that simple. That's why I do it, and that's why you should, too. Sure, there are other reasons to ride a bike, and we'll get to those in a minute, but you need to know that riding a bicycle is more fun than driving a car -- even on rainy days. As a matter of fact, I hate getting wet, but don't mind riding my bicycle in the rain (properly attired for the weather, of course). I can't explain it, but there it is: even the rain is more fun on a bike. And those warm, sunny days are beyond compare when you are on your bicycle.

There's just something inherently more pleasant about being out in the world on a bicycle, versus being stuck inside a car, watching the world go sailing by the tinted windows. Even with the windows rolled down, it's just not the same. The joy of cycling must have something to do with being out there under your own power, the feeling of being so much more in control of all that is going on around you, and all of that unfiltered fresh air. It gets to you. Sure, you drive the car, but you power the bike. You are both engine and engineer. It's all you, and it feels great.

So many of us learned to ride a bike as a child, and did ride a bike right up to the day we got our driver's license. After that, the bike was cast aside, and it was all about speed and power and four wheels and dual exhausts and, well, somewhere along the line we lost track of something there. Sure, the car is faster and takes less physical effort, but there's still something missing in the experience when you drive. The drive might be exhilarating, but the car is not all that satisfying. More often than not, we're stuck in traffic and, harkening back to the days of the horse, it doesn't smell all that good. Especially if you get a lot of them in one place. (Cars or horses, either one.) We all see the car commercials that show empty roads and wide open vistas, but the reality of the world is quite different. The car, once a symbol of freedom of movement, is now a static display on a road clogged with millions of other cars, all wanting to go, go, go -- but all stuck in traffic and going nowhere fast, their drivers stuck behind the wheel of a machine that cannot move because everyone wants to move. I see this every day--as I pedal by them on my bicycle. It's sad, really. If only they had ridden a bicycle instead. Maybe next time they'll ride a bike. Maybe?

It was probably about 3 years ago that I decided to get a bike and start commuting to work. It was a touch-and-go process at the time, which involved a lot of trial and also a fair amount of error. The Practical Cyclist is the slightly more experienced cycling buddy that I never had in the early days of getting back on two wheels. This book is a fabulous companion for anyone thinking about incorporating any level of cycling into their lives - sort of like training wheels for grown-ups.

Again from the book:

It doesn't have to be about epic rides or yellow jerseys. No need to stand on the podium and hear your national anthem. Just go for a bike ride to your own place, at your own pace. A trip to the local store, by bike, can be a grand adventure, and all you need to do to feel good about it. The long rides may come in time, but the short rides will always be there for you to enjoy. They will be your favorites.

The Practical Cyclist

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