The Chainlink

I like to bike and I like to read … a lot on both counts. I really like to read about bikers who travel way beyond the city limits or who, more importantly, reach beyond their intellectual horizons. As long as it’s on a bike, I'm in. I'll read it; but there are seven books I can read over and over and over again. There’s Le Surmâle by Alfred Jerry, the French proto-Surrealist. Written in 1902 about a six-man bicycle racing a train, it hugs together his three obsessions: sex, alcohol, and cycling (Midnight Marauders anyone?) Like Jerry, Dervla Murphy carries a revolver while biking. Unlike our Parisian, she leaves her native land far behind in 1962. In Full Tilt: Ireland to India on a Bicycle, she describes the Balkans, the Middle East, and Central Asia during these regions’ worst winter in two decades (now that’s Bike Winter).

At least Dervla returned (four years later she wrote In Ethiopia with a Mule). Frank Lenz never did. The American accountant turned long-distance cyclist disappeared in eastern Turkey in 1894. David Herlinhy’s The Lost Cyclist reminds us how the now forgotten Lenz not only inspired later cyclists and motorcyclists to circumnavigate the globe. He was also an early champion of the safety bicycle. Perhaps it takes a woman or a good Jewish mother from Boston. One year later Annie Londonderry negotiates a lucrative contract to promote bottled water (!) and circles the globe (!!), as told by Peter Zheutlin in Around The World On Two Wheels (BTW, her revolver had pearl grips).

A bit more Downton Abbey is Three Men on a Bummel, the "Mother of All Tweed Rides". Jerome K. Jerome follows up his enormously successful Three Men in a Boat (… no shit) with this Grand Bicycle Tour through Germany’s Black Forest in 1900. Imagine Wooster & Jeeves meets Colonel Klink & Sergeant Schultz (again … no shit). A bit more Monty Python is Flann O'Brien’s The Third Policeman. Whether it's a ‘60s thriller or a tradition vs. modernity polemic this has got to be the only of literary work where the romantic lead is played by a “bicycle of unusual perfection”. Other bike books come and go for me but, like I said, these I can read again and again at home … or in bars. One place I’d like to do that one-day is in Portland, way beyond my suburban limits. And when I do, I can Hop in the Saddle with Lucy Burningham’s and Ellee Thalheimer’s guide to Portland's craft beer scene.

Flann O'Brien wrote People who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles … get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle. And so it's the same with bike books.  What are your favs? Why? Make this a robust resource with your comments below!

Thanks and Roll & Read On,

globalguy (aka garth)

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great ideas garth (and others).

 

I love this blog - It's written by a freelance writer who biked solo coast to coast in 2002.

It's a daily diary of his adventurous journey with lots of local flair and photos :

 

http://www.djwriter.com/cycling/c2c/index.html

 

Dan, I think this is the link:  http://djwriter.com/cycling/c2c/index.html

(No "www"--that did not work.)

dan brown 4.4 miles said:

great ideas garth (and others).

 

I love this blog - It's written by a freelance writer who biked solo coast to coast in 2002.

It's a daily diary of his adventurous journey with lots of local flair and photos :

 

http://www.djwriter.com/cycling/c2c/index.html

 

Gonna definitely have to Second recommending The Third Policeman

Another quick recommendation would be David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries in which he has thoughts in different places, while riding bikes, and it's David Byrne so his thoughts are Something. 

All great suggestions folks! I thought of adding The 3rd Policeman but wanted to see if others  would suggest it (Thanks Peenworm) but I can't endorse Mr. Byrne since he stole my blog title for his book. And he's never, ever written me a "thank you" fpr being clever first :) 

Peenworm Grubologist said:

Gonna definitely have to Second recommending The Third Policeman

Another quick recommendation would be David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries in which he has thoughts in different places, while riding bikes, and it's David Byrne so his thoughts are Something. 

I'm reviving this thread to say that I've got good use of it, so thanks for the tips!

A couple of months ago, I read Jerome K. Jerome's two 'Three Men...' books with great pleasure.  I recommend the Penguin edition which includes both books, as well as an introductory essay which does a fine job of placing Jerome in context. 

Even more of a hit around our house have been the Flavia de Luce books by Alan C. Bradley, as recommended by Jane above.  Our girls are now well past the age of Flavia (10-11) but we all still like books with spunky young heroines.  They don't come any spunkier than this pint-sized, bicycle-riding, mad-scientist sleuth. My wife particularly loves the books.   I'm on the fifth one now, which apparently ends in a cliffhanger, not to be continued until 2014

And as we are enjoying watching the Tour de France, I tried, again, recommending 'French Revolutions,' one of my favorites, to my wife, despite her ignoring it previously.   This time she's given it a try and was laughing last night.

Also the thread led me to read another book I'd wondered about for years, The Third Policeman, which would have seemed to be right up my alley, but was not.  Oh well!

Thanks Albany Park Al! There's also Edward Gorey's The Epileptic Bicycle.

Albany Park Al said:

I'm reviving this thread to say that I've got good use of it, so thanks for the tips!

A couple of months ago, I read Jerome K. Jerome's two 'Three Men...' books with great pleasure.  I recommend the Penguin edition which includes both books, as well as an introductory essay which does a fine job of placing Jerome in context. 

Even more of a hit around our house have been the Flavia de Luce books by Alan C. Bradley, as recommended by Jane above.  Our girls are now well past the age of Flavia (10-11) but we all still like books with spunky young heroines.  They don't come any spunkier than this pint-sized, bicycle-riding, mad-scientist sleuth. My wife particularly loves the books.   I'm on the fifth one now, which apparently ends in a cliffhanger, not to be continued until 2014

And as we are enjoying watching the Tour de France, I tried, again, recommending 'French Revolutions,' one of my favorites, to my wife, despite her ignoring it previously.   This time she's given it a try and was laughing last night.

Also the thread led me to read another book I'd wondered about for years, The Third Policeman, which would have seemed to be right up my alley, but was not.  Oh well!

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