I have been riding bicycles since I was about 4 years old. For me the bicycle has always been about transport and freedom, and I have never regarded myself as a cycle enthusiast. However, when I started writing this blog I found that I was writing more and more about bikes and cycling, and this then lead into cycle activism. Recently, when I was sent an unsolicited review copy of Cyclorama #1 by Jim McGurn and Mick Allan, I realised just how much the humble bicycle had become a part of my life. That is the thing about riding a bike, it kind of gets under your skin. After all, as the forward says –
A bicycle can mean anything to anybody. It allows us to slip in an out of other people’s expectations, conventions and transportation systems. We can go off riding almost anytime, anywhere, and on anything from a scrapheap challenge to a titanium miracle machine.
Our bicycles give us free will. We can escape and engage as we wish, harming no-one. Ours is the freedom of the minimal – because less is more.
So what of the book?
Well, it is a soft cover coffee table book, gloriously illustrated throughout, covering a wide range of subjects and reflecting the fact that the pedal cycle is one of the greatest human inventions. If that last statement sound like pure hyperbole, bear in mind that in 2005 the bicycle was voted the most significant technological innovation since 1800 by listeners of BBC Radio 4. Professor Steve Jones also said that the bicycle has had more effect on the human genome than any other innovation. So it is that the pedal cycle has been a part of the story of humanity for well over a century, yet it remains the most efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transport we have ever created. This is a book of answers, of ingenious and practical responses to a whole range of real needs. The authors hope that it gives an idea of what can happen when we combine the astonishing potential of the pedals and wheels. Cycling is a great asset for our fragile planet (or rather fragile place on the planet). This is a book which shows that it is possible to achieve a great deal of travel and transportation, while still treading softly on our environment. Rarely does the chance to change the world come in a form which is so much fun! Oops, I feel that I am going off on a tangent, but that is also in the nature of this book.
Cyclorama covers a wide range of cycle related subjects and showcases cycles (note: not bicycles, it is not restricted to just two wheels, these cycles can have between one and five wheels – see page 63, if you don’t believe me!), many from small manufactures you may never have heard of. This is a book to dip into, rather that a cover to cover read. There is something to surprise and delight even those who didn’t think they were interested in bicycles and cycling. If I had come across this book in a bookshop, I would have bought it on the spot, I recommend that you get your own copy, as I don’t feel that I will be able to comply with the final instruction given: “When you have finished reading this book, please place it in the hands of someone who doesn’t ride a bike”.
No, it is mine, preciousssss…