Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bike Touring by Raymond Bridge

Raymond Bridge's book, Bike Touring: The Sierra Club Guide to Travel on Two Wheels, is the second, completely revised edition of a book Mr. Bridge originally wrote 30 years ago. In the thirty years since the first edition, some things have changed. We now have Internet forums to discuss our tours, we can track our routes using GPS and the Adventure Cycling Association has mapped out thousands of more miles of routes, but the lure of the open road is still the same.

In this age of Internet wonder, Raymond Bridge has created a book that does the thing that books still do best: he's created a compact, clear guide that condenses a wealth of practical how-to information into a portable, organized form. He explains the various types of bike touring a person might do from commercial tours to roof-to-roof and independent bike camping trips. He discusses a variety of bikes, explaining both fit and function, telling not just what options exist, but why a person might choose one bike or component over another. He explains basic roadside repairs, camping skills and things like the logistics of transporting your bike before and after your tour.

I'm really not the intended audience for a book like this, as I've been traveling by bicycle since before the first edition of this book was new, and yet I still found this book to be wonderfully organized and complete. With a critical eye, I'd find myself asking "yeah, but does he mention alcohol stoves?" Yep, he does, not only mentioning commercial stoves, but pointing his readers to a couple of instruction pages on the Internet for those who like to make their own stuff. This is typical of the book, it is marvelously complete in itself, but it also sends you off on your own journey.

In Bike Touring: The Sierra Club Guide to Travel on Two Wheels, Raymond Bridge has written a marvelous starting point for anyone interested in travel by bicycle. John Lencicki's wonderful drawings are sprinkled throughout the text, adding both clarity and charm to this book. My only complaint with this volume is the cover. This is a book that inspires and enables folks to get out on the road and experience the freedom of two wheels. The text and drawings inside the book capture that far better than the dull photograph of a pannier, water bottle, helmet, map and glove which the Sierra Club chooses for the cover of this book. In this case, don't judge a book by its cover. This one is better. I now have a guide to hand to anyone looking to get out and see the world from the seat of a bicycle.
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