This is a book with something of interest to almost any cyclist from the novice to the professional. It is roughly divided into three parts: the history of cycling and of cyclists, issues that are important to cyclists, and practical advice. The writing is clear and straightforward if a tad vulgar at times.
I found the Snob’s retracing of one route used by early cyclists (a trip to Far Rockaway) both interesting and touching. His description of his own cycling history will remind readers of their cycling sagas; I could relate to his story of running into a tree when he was a kid, because I did the same thing shortly after I had learned to ride. However, I feel that this part of the book would have been stronger had he left out his pastiche of the parable about the Lord and footprints in the sand.
The second part of the book has some excellent tips on safe riding such as to beware of riding next to cars at intersections because of the danger of a car turning into you. And this part of the book is full of the Snob’s opinions of “hipsters” and cultures and subcultures.
The last part of the book offers some information on bike repair, more on riding safely, and tips on things to check on your bike. One piece of advice that I completely agree with is “The more you ride your bike the better you get at it, and the better you ride the more likely you are not to fall off of it” (189). This is a little book that is well worth a perusal for all who call themselves cyclists.
Today about ten in the morning, the skies cleared, and my husband suggested that we set off on a short ride. Parking the car in Alamo, we rode Iron Horse Trail to Danville where we spent some time at Rakestraw Books. Just as we left the store, it started to rain again. After a quick coffee at Lunardi’s, we purchased a few items at a much reduced farmers’ market. We were pretty wet by this time. But we set off back to Alamo along the trail. The rain was steady but fairly gentle during most of our return trip, and the ride was peaceful and pleasant since we had the trail almost to ourselves. There was something beautiful about riding the tree-lined path in the softly falling rain. And it felt especially good to return to our warm house, dry clothes, and hot soup made from brussel sprouts from the farmers’ market.
Here I am again, preaching. Iron Horse Trail, which runs through the Diablo and San Ramon Valleys is a treasure. It is a great place to exercise, and it is handy for running errands because it cuts through several towns. It is also a bucolic oasis in an area that has been affected by fast suburban growth. In other words, it can be a place for emotional refreshment as well as one for errands and exercise.
Bridge on Iron Horse Trail
Sunlight Late Morning on Iron Horse Trail
However, the serenity of this trail is often disturbed by oblivious people such as dog walkers who stop to talk to other dog walkers or dog lovers, thus commandeering the entire trail. So too do unobservant parents sometimes cause a blockage in the flow of traffic. These people are usually more unaware than unpleasant.
But yesterday my husband and I came across a group of six cyclists: two parents and four teenagers who were riding all over the path with disregard for everyone else. And the older male was encouraging this dangerous behavior. It is one thing when the spandex crowd zooms past. These people are almost always excellent riders. But the group yesterday consisted of inexperienced riders out to have fun, but they did not care if it was at the expense of others. They were a real danger cutting in on other people and then stopping in the middle of the path. I was relieved to reach Alamo and the safety of my car. I don’t know what we can do about this element on the path, but I do know that it can interrupt the tranquility of a good bike ride.