It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels

It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels

Hardback

By (author) Robert Penn

List price $26.54

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  • Publisher: Particular Books
  • Format: Hardback | 208 pages
  • Dimensions: 136mm x 216mm x 22mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 1 August 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1846142628
  • ISBN 13: 9781846142628
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations, 1 map
  • Sales rank: 25,539

Product description

The bicycle is one of mankind's greatest inventions - and the most popular form of transport in history. Robert Penn has ridden one most days of his adult life. In his late 20s, he pedaled 40,000 kilometres around the world. Yet, like cyclists everywhere, the utilitarian bikes he currently owns don't even hint at this devotion. Robert needs a new bike, a bespoke machine that reflects how he feels when he's riding it - like an ordinary man touching the gods. "It's All About the Bike" is the story of a journey to design and build a dream bike. En route, Robert explores the culture, science and history of the bicycle. From Stoke-on-Trent, where an artisan hand builds his frame, to California, home of the mountain bike, where Robert tracks down the perfect wheels, via Portland, Milan and Coventry, birthplace of the modern bicycle, this is the narrative of our love affair with cycling. It's a tale of perfect components - parts that set the standard in reliability, craftsmanship and beauty. It tells how the bicycle has changed the course of human history, from the invention of the 'people's nag' to its role in the emancipation of women, and from the engineering marvel of the tangent-spoked wheel to the enduring allure of the Tour de France. It's the story of why we ride, and why this simple machine remains central to life today.

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Author information

Robert Penn rides a bicycle to get to work, sometimes for work, to keep fit, to bathe in air and sunshine, to travel, to go shopping, to stay sane, to savour the physical and emotional fellowship of riding with friends, for fun, occasionally to impress someone, to scare himself and to hear his boy laugh. He's ridden a bicycle most days of his adult life, in over forty countries on five continents. In his late-twenties, he pedalled around the world. A journalist, Robert writes for the Financial Times, Observer and Conde Nast Traveller, as well as a host of cycling publications. His last book The Wrong Kind of Snow, was praised as 'jam packed with grand themes ... intelligently done' (Daily Mail) and 'endlessly fascinating ... written with flair' (Financial Times). Robert lives in the Black Mountains, South Wales with his wife and three children and commutes to work across a heather moor on a mountain bike.

Review quote

A book as brilliant as the invention it celebrates. A wonderful read -- Nick Crane, Author Of 'clear Waters Rising' And 'bicycles Up Kilimanjaro' What I'm left with after consuming the book is a sense of poetry. A distinct and lingering feeling of elegance, design history and aesthetics. It made me look at the hundreds of thousands of bicycles I pass every day in Copenhagen in a completely new light. It made me wonder what my perfect bicycle would look like -- Mikael Colville-Andersen Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog No matter how shiny and costly the item of bike bling, there is a back story, usually a good one. Artfully, Penn turns his quest for hardware ... into a worldwide spin around cycling and its culture -- William Fotheringham Guardian [Penn] writes with authority, humour and refreshing candour ... A celebration of craftsmanship over technology and of a bygone era when things were built to last ... If Penn is to be believed, we are entering a golden age of cycling, when it really will be all about the bike once more Sunday Telegraph [Penn] writes with a Bill-Brysonesque facility for concentrating a lot of information and research into an easy-to-read and surprisingly compelling tale. Best of all ... his account enriches your enjoyment of a ride -- Tim Dawson, Cycle Guy Sunday Times Gem of a book ... Penn ... describes his quest to build the perfect bicycle, mixing in an entertaining dose of cycling history and culture in the process Economist Fantastic ... It is a really interesting read with some great stories on the science, history and culture of the bicycle. Well worth a read if, like me, you love cycling! -- Paul Smith I've just spent a week pedalling slowly from Windermere to Aviemore with a copy of Penn's zealous eulogy in my pannier. His infectious admiration for the exhilarating sociability of cycling, coupled with reverence for quality craftsmanship, made highly engaging company ... appreciate the wit and enthusiasm of this unusual odyssey -- James Urquhart Independent The pages overflow with pioneers, mavericks and geniuses - certainly, it is hard to imagine anyone who reads this book being able to buy a bike "off the peg" again ... As a depiction of a world you might vote for, Penn's does not sound bad at all -- Tim Lewis Observer Whizzed through Robert Penn's 'It's All About the Bike'. Must read for cyclists and/or obsessives -- Tweeted By Alistair Campbell Penn tells us that the bicycle, as we know it, was invented in 1885 and is the most efficient form of transport ever devised... A joyful book -- William Leith The Scotsman Bike-lit is booming, and while 'cross-country hardtail' might not have the same ring to it as 'penny-farthing', there's evidently little to do with cycling about which Robert Penn can't wax lyrical. Whether his subject is spokes or saddle sores, he is relentlessly enthusiastic... Penn's amiability is puncture-proof -- Stephanie Cross Daily Mail [H]is adrenalin-charged enthusiasm... delivers a good ride... The social history is snappy and his almost religious quest for ultimate craftsmanship full of wit. -- James Urquhart Financial Times