Book: A Woman’s Guide to Cycling

A Woman's Guide to Cycling
I found this 25-year-old hardback edition in a charity store. It looks like a parody now. In 2012, even the title sounds derogatory!

This comprehensive textbook complicates cycling to make cyclists look really clever.
380 pages, ★

I’ve found treasure troves of books in libraries and charity stores. This one, A Woman’s Guide to Cycling, turns a simple, physical hobby into an academic subject that, on the page, looks a lot like chemistry or physics. Mathematical formulae, diagrams, graphs and numbers abound.

One funny part allows you to calculate the length of each of your gears using a mathematical formula, then write them down and stick them onto your handlebars to help you change gear. This book also allows you to calculate the angle of the chain between the two cogs, and thus determine which of the gearing combinations are putting too much strain on the bike. (This is funny because it seems so unnecessary—like most cyclists, I just “go with the feel” and learn that way.)

Another fascinating section in A Woman’s Guide to Cycling include “how to avoid getting harassed while cycling”. I wasn’t even aware that being harassed while on a bike was a problem for women. Maybe it was in the 1980s, when this book was first published?

A Woman’s Guide to Cycling is not an introduction. It overcomplicates cycling and turns it into an academic subject that might even put people off. (Maybe that’s the publishers’ intention—to give ‘face’ to those who can cycle.) In my view, an introduction to cycling for women (as opposed to for children) should be no more than a pamphlet, which explains the health, wealth and time-saving benefits of riding a bike. In 2012, this book seems totally irrelevant. I give it three stars purely for comic value. ★★★

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