Book Review: “Holy Spokes” by Rob Coppolillo

Over the past three or four years, there have been a number of “practical cycling” books to hit the market — following along with the resurgence in the U.S. of the bicycle as a sensible form of daily transportation. We’ve been lucky enough to have had the chance to review a number of them right here on Bikecommuters.com.

If you’ve read any of them, you’ll notice that many of them tend to cover the same ground, for the same audience, with the same (or very similar) message. That’s fine, of course…most of them are worth the read even for the most jaded cyclist. But how can a book really stand out when there are so many other similar titles on bookshelves? It’s a quandary that even I have struggled with: I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a cycling book for a bunch of years…but how would mine be substantially different from those that came before me?

Holy Spokes: A Biking Bible for Everyone by Rob Coppolillo (San Francisco, CA: Zest Books, 2013) seems to have cracked that riddle handily: write a book aimed at TEENS! After all, teens and young adults are our next generation of cyclists…why not tailor a book to them and help develop interest in this very practical and wonderful mode of transportation that is also a pretty great recreational vehicle?

Holy Spokes

Holy Spokes covers a lot of the same territory as many other books on the market, but it is truly aimed at a younger, less-experienced audience. Coppolillo goes to great lengths to simplify the information presented for teen readers…at no point does the book get bogged down in technical jargon.

The author covers basic details on the full range of cycling experiences, from choosing that first bike to putting on a race number to bicycle touring and at-home maintenance. It’s all here, and it’s all written in a very accessible way. Throughout the book, Coppolillo injects some personal stories of his own cycling experiences as both a rider and writer (having written for VeloNews and other publications).

Coppolillo thoughtfully includes a handy resource guide at the end of the book. Sadly, our humble site was once again overlooked, but there are a number of other good ones listed. There’s even a pretty solid book list to encourage readers to track down more information on their new pastime.

The book is light-hearted and enjoyable to read. The more seasoned cyclists among us aren’t going to come away with any revelations from having read Holy Spokes, but hey: it’s not for us after all. If you have a young friend or family member, though, who has expressed an interest in two wheels, do them a huge favor and put a copy of this book into their hands. This might be just the information they need to start off on a lifetime of cycling love!

Our new wool cap by Walz Caps are on the way!

So here’s a photo to help you get an idea on what our new caps will look like.
Grey-Black-Wool-Stripe_lg

We’ll have a limited number of these and if you remember from our last wool cap, the large caps sold out rather quickly. Once they get in, we’ll post actual photos of the finished good and provide information for you to purchase one.

Happy birthday to our own Mir.I.Am!

Let’s all gather around our reuseable “virtual birthday cake” and wish Mir.I.Am a happy and healthy birthday:

bdaycake

Mir’s currently enjoying the sights and sounds down Argentina way…take a look at her last post for details of her latest two-wheeled adventures.

Happy birthday, Mir — we’re glad you’re with us!!!

Bike Share Breakup & Biking Buenos Aires

Happy Belated Saint Valentine’s Day, Bike Commuters! After a successful start, a short-lived love affair, and a predictable break-up with the Mejor en Bici bike share program, Mir.I.Am searches for new bike love with a tour of Argentina’s Capital City through Biking Buenos Aires.

Someecards Breakup
Dear Mejor en Bici…

Sometimes commuting around the city on a free yellow bike just isn’t enough. I know, I know, did I just say that life as a Bike Commuter falls short of the fulfilling my two-wheeled bikey dreams?! Talk about first-world-problems. Wait, wait, cycle people – before you bring me to the masses and start sharpening your guillotines, let me clarify my heretic claims: as lovely as I wish the Mejor en Bici system would be, our relationship has been disappointing, stale, and uneventful. Let me make a list (list lust, yessss, lists!) of why I think the free Buenos Aires bike share and I just didn’t click.

  1. It’s not you, it’s me: Mejor en Bici, you’re free, so I have no complaints about the extent of your network.  Twenty-something stations is a good sized network. But it’s just not big enough for me. I’m just not right for you – I live in Palermo at Plaza Italia, and you have no drop off stations within 20 blocks of my internship in Villa Crespo. I might as well take the (blech) bus (barf).
  2. You never like to go out anymore: Mejor en Bici, what happened to that spark, that flare, the chemistry we shared the first time I straddled your public saddle, and you cured me of my Bikeless Butt Envy? Let’s be honest, you close at 8pm, so we never go out past sunset time. I’m looking for bike access beyond the Argentine equivalent of 9-5.
  3. I’ve met someone else: Mejor en Bici, since you’re closed on Sundays and government holidays, I’ve started looking for other ways to get my bike on. I just have so much fun on those cruiser tours from Biking Buenos Aires, that I don’t think you and I will be seeing much of each other anymore. Can we still be facebook friends?
tiny bike mercadolibre
I knew it was getting bad when I was started stalking bikes online at night.

Although it’s not a permanent solution to the recurring Bikeless Butt Envy – Biking Buenos Aires was just the kind of pick-me-up I needed this Valentine’s season.  My boyfriend, photographer friend, and I set off on a “Heart of the City” tour for 4-5 hours on one of our days off.  We enjoyed a sunny day, with easy to no traffic routes, and mostly protected bike lanes on our cruisers snapping shots of cityscapes in Buenos Aires.  Here’s a description of the tour we took from their website:

Heart of the City Tour (South City)
$60 USD per person
Available: Tue, Thur, Sat @ 9am & 3pm
Difficulty: Easy / Medium – 12mi or 19.3km
Languages: English & Spanish
~5 hours
Discover the birthplace of Argentina standing beside the oldest national monument found directly in the center of May Plaza (Plaza de Mayo).  The center stage for any demonstration, it’s no wonder why most historical events happened right here in this very spot.  Along the way we visit colorful La Boca, historical San Telmo and rich Puerto Madero.  Bondiola (pork) sandwich and yerba mate are included! Group tours leave every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 9am & 3pm.

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This could be the start of a budding new romance… until the Mejor en Bici program gets their shiz together, looks like I’ll have to find alternative routes for overcoming my Bikeless Butt Envy. And, it’s not like I’m comparing the two, but let’s make another list of why Biking Buenos Aires rocks my bike socks:
  1. You treat your turistas right: Biking Buenos Aires, what a better way to discover a new city than by bike? Like slow jams on a Saturday night, you keep the pace perfect for everyone in the group. With three guides, one in front, one in back, and one in the middle, you took care of us at every turn like a true caballero.
  2. I can be myself around you: Biking Buenos Aires, I was comfortable on your sparkly blue old-school cruisers, with a sweet helmet, water bottle, and front basket… with the saddle adjusted just right – I’m not gonna lie, I wanted to take you home with me and lock you to my balcony. A perfect balance, you let me wander off and explore with my camera whenever I wanted, and reigned me back in when it was time to roll.
  3. You’ve got a great personality: Biking Buenos Aies, you’re funny, you’re friendly, and you’re smart – your guides kick butt with local history tips. With a warm welcome, we all enjoyed the genuine conversation and the buena onda along the ride. It’s not just about looks, it’s the inner beauty that counts – and you’ve got it!
Here are a couple of pics to share from the tour that won me over.

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Graffiti san telmo

La boca

Biking buenos aires mir

Biking la boca

Cityscapes

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Rest assured, dear readers, it’s not just a Bike Share rebound, I’ll be back for more birthday bike tours this week! Biking Buenos Aires is highly recommended for anyone looking to catch the sites and get some fresh air. Don’t worry if you forget the sunscreen, water, cookies, mate, or patch kit, because the Biking BA guides will have it all.  Catch you later, cycle gators!