Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cyclopedia: It's All About the Bike (Book Review)

Cyclopedia: It's All About the BikeCyclopedia: It's All About the Bike by William Fotheringham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fotheringham is a British author who has written books about British and and Italian cycling plus several books of "sporting trivia." This one-volume cycling "encyclopedia" (in name, anyway) was first published in the U.K. but has (it says) been "substantially revised" for this U.S. version. The preface makes clear that notwithstanding the title and the alphabetized article arrangement that it is intended more as an introduction to cycling with the encyclopedic arrangement as a means, not an end.

While the apparent intent is to provide a fairly global introduction to all aspects of cycling, the focus is more heavily on racing and on the U.K. and Europe than on other cycling topics. Articles range from 4-5 pages (for "gears") to short paragraph entries for a few topics - most are at least a page or more. There are occasional sidebars with amusing facts, timelines, and maps. One major weakness (that presumably kept the production cost down) is that there are no photos at all. There are some silhouette drawings but that's it.

Some of the people and subjects not given entries are surprising. No entry for Andy Hampsten, for example, but he is mentioned in an article. Yet there is an entry for Jonathan Boyer - they seem of equal interest to me. No entry for "randonneuring" but it is mentioned in the article about the Paris-Brest-Paris race. Apparently rather than having more entries, most of the entries are longer - but then this isn't really intended as a reference work, so that's probably OK. And entries are written in an appealing light style - it's a fun book to read.

One of the most useful (for me) sections is a seven page annotated list of books about cycling, including fiction, memoirs, and travel books. Very good!

This can be had for about $17 on, so despite the lack of photos and notwithstanding the somewhat Euro/Anglo-centric coverage, it seems worth having.

Roll on a Murray
There is no photo of Bob Roll in this book, but then there are no photos period - but no "Roll, Bob" entry, either

View my reviews and list of cycling books in Goodreads

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