Book review: Get On Your Bike

Published by Lyn on 3 July 2014

Committed but poorly attired racing cyclist Lawrie Jones finds Get On Your Bike an engaging read for new and returning cyclists.

Get on your bikeBooks about cycling can often fail to hit the spot, either being too esoteric and specialised, or too simplistic and patronising. Thankfully, this book doesn’t fall into either trap.

Aimed at the new or returning cyclist, the book is written in a pleasant, conversational tone that moves through the essential information you need at a brisk pace. Covering subjects like choosing a bike, fitting, technique, how to ride, where to ride and when, the book provides a positive introduction to the benefits of cycling.

The authors write in an engaging, friendly tone that immediately puts the reader at ease. You’re not in for a lecture; it’s all very light-hearted.

This informality involves a few jokes, with a sly dig at the pompous and aloof ‘racing cyclist’ and their choice of kit.  Whilst the jokes don’t always land, it certainly livens up the book and made me (a committed and poorly attired racing cyclist) raise a smile more than once.

Interestingly, the book deviates to other offerings by including a variety of real-life case studies about how cycling has benefitted a person's life. Examples include how riders have lost weight, overcome personal illnesses and trauma, and even how riders have found love. It’s in this area where the book itself comes alive; reading the stories helps to take the book to areas others don’t and, in some cases, they are genuinely inspirational.

It’s in these anecdotes that the book is arguably at its strongest. Sometimes reading them can feel a little bit like a ‘self-help’ manual, but that’s not necessarily negative, as anything that inspires the reader to ride is a good thing.

The content isn’t particularly challenging, and for experienced cyclists, most of the advice would appear to be common sense but, for those new to cycling, it’s all useful information.

There are, however, some gaps. The book unfortunately shies away from the helmet debate, something someone new to cycling would be keen to know. There are also some missing areas in terms of bike security and how to choose a lock, and the kind of equipment you might need to carry when riding.

But these could all be learned through experience or from a chat with an experienced cyclist.

For those who are already cyclists, the book may not have enough information to keep the attention for long, but for the new or returning cyclist – the target readers – it’s an engaging and humorous introduction to the often complicated world of cycling, and could be useful in helping to demystify and deconstruct some of the myths.

Get On Your Bike (UK, US), by Rebecca Charlton, Robert Hicks and Hannah Reynolds, is published by Bloomsbury.

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