Published Mar 2011
A rip-roaring narrative celebration of the 21st century’s great transport success story: the bicycle. Millions of us now cycle, some obsessively, and this glorious concoction of history, anecdote, adventure and lycra-clad pedalling is the perfect read for two-wheelers of all kinds.
Two wheels. A frame. Two pedals. What could be simpler than a bicycle? And yet the bike – old, and cheap, and slightly comic – continues to inspire a passionate following. Since the millennium its use in Britain has doubled, and then doubled again. Thousands now cycle to work, and more take it up every day. In trial after trial, it is the bike which reaches its urban destination faster than the car, the bus, the underground or the pedestrian. Self-reliant and straightforward, cycling has recycled itself. It is an antiquated idea, and its time has finally come. But what is it about the bicycle that so enchants us? And why do its devotees become so obsessed with it? Acclaimed and prize-winning author Bella Bathurst takes us on a journey through cycling’s best stories and strangest incarnations, from the bicycle as weapon of twentieth-century warfare to the secret life of couriers and the alchemy of framebuilding. With a cast of characters including the woman who watercycled across the Channel, the man who raced India’s Deccan Queen train and several of today’s top cyclists, she offers us a brilliantly engaging portrait of cycling’s past, present and world-conquering future. The result is a story of passion and obsession, of exultation, endeavour, and risk. Above all, it is the story of partnership between man and machine, perfectly balanced – a story of love and souplesse.