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Ya, It Really is About the Bike!

In the interest of full disclosure – I have been avid cyclist most of my adult life, though without the exploits of Robert Penn. I have raced bicycles as an amateur for more than ten years of an undistinguished results (now retired). Though retired, I still ride over 100 miles a week, year round, just for the pleasures ably described by Penn. I also am old enough to remember Reynolds 531, Columbus tubing, Peugeot, and my first chrome molybdenum steel bicycle. I could go on but needless this to say I easily identify with the sentiments of Robert Penn in his book, It’s All About the Bike. Does this make me a biased reviewer; well, yes and no!
To get a multimedia taste of reading this book, checkout Penn’s YouTube video

It’s All About The Bike by Robert Penn

First the yes. If you are a cyclist (past or present) this book is definitely for you! For the older cyclists the book will bring back vivid memories of your childhood or drooling over the latest early technology developments. The younger cyclist will learn a little about the evolution of cycling technology. And, if you haven’t cycling for a while Penn will probably ignite that spark to dust off the old steed and do some pedaling.

Now for the unbiased review. Robert Penn has written the most readable book with a cycling theme in many years. He weaves the psychology of the love of cycling with spoonfuls of the history and contributions cycling has made to todays world. As a brief history of late 19th century technology, you’ll learn the pneumatic tires, roller chains, tension spoke wheels, and ball bearings were all invented or perfected for bicycles. Even improving roadways from potholed horse paths was not driven by non-existent automobiles but rather the exponential growth in bicycling. Today we are pretty jaded about the exorbitant salaries paid to athletes but this isn’t new. In the 1920s the average auto worker earned $2.50 per DAY and a competitive bicycle racer could earn $1000 for a single race. In 1922, over 125,000 fans thronged to Madison Square Guard for bicycle 6-day races.

The Telegraph, said in its review

It is difficult not to be swept along by Penn’s enthusiasm for everything pedal-powered. ‘The bike is one of man’s greatest inventions,’ he writes. ‘It’s up there with the printing press, the electric motor, the telephone, penicillin and the world wide web.’

In summary, this small book has a very prominent place in my library and will be near the top the list books on cycling for many years to come.

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