Do you like bikes?
Do you like riding bikes?
Do you look forward to your next bike ride more than you look forward to pretty much anything else (add whatever adult-themed joke you’d like here)?
Do you pour over bike catalogs and try to figure out when the appropriate time will be to buy your next bike?
Do you follow professional bike racing (and you know that there are more races than just the Tour de France and more racers than just Lance Armstrong or that little Spanish dude who keeps beating Lance)?
Do you like to read (in your spare time from riding of course)?
Do you like to laugh, especially at the expense others?
If you’ve answered yes to more than three of the above (or just skipped all the moronic questions), then BikeSnob: Systematically and Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling is a book that you must go out (preferably by bicycle) and get now.
If you’ve heard of the BikeSnob, go ahead and skip to the next paragraph. If you haven’t, here’s a little back-story: A couple of years ago, this anonymous blogger started a blog called bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com. Raise your hand if you can guess what his blog is about – that’s right, cycling in New York. In his daily posts, the Snob (as he is meh-fectionately called by his followers) writes about and ridicules the following:
- Commuting by bike in the most populated city in the country
- Other people who commute by bicycle in New York (and woe be to you if you’re in his posts)
- Commuting anywhere else on the planet
- Professional racing (again, woe be to you…, even a certain testicularly-challenged Texan hasn’t escaped the Snob’s barbs)
- Local racing and racing in general
- Hipsters, particularly those who ride fixed-gear bicycles and post on Craigslist trying to sell their bikes or meet other hipsters through Missed Connections
- Mountain Bikers
- Pretty much anyone who’s ever thrown a leg over a bike and pedaled on down the road
As he gained more and more popularity and followers, his prominence and influence in the cycling world grew. Hundreds comment on his posts every day. Manufacturers now send him their products to review (even though the review usually dies not end well for the company), cycling and fitness magazines interview him and ask him to write articles, and Lanoe twitters his approval regularly. As with every other D-list celebrity in the country, a book was inevitable. Up until recently, he remained anonymous to all but a few, but now with a book tour and all the other promotional obligations he has revealed himself as a thirty-something avid cyclist from New York who works in the publishing business.
Just as in his blog, the Snob skewers almost every aspect of cycling. He skewers not out of anger (at least that’s what I’d like to think as I’ve broken several of the Snob’s tenets) as it would seem most rage-riddled car drivers with Internet access now do, but because he really likes to ride. Riding is a huge part of his life – he rides to work, to the store, to the bar, and even races (poorly according to him) on a local team. But as he spends so much time around bikes and cyclists, he also sees so much to ridicule, and apparently there’s plenty. He sees the stupid things people do while on their bikes, the stupid bikes they build, the stupid amount of money they spend on their bikes, the stupid way they race their bikes (especially triathletes), and the stupid status symbols that bikes become for people. For the Snob, cycling is a simple and enjoyable act, but cyclists often napalm the simplicity and fun into oblivion.
This review has probably made the BikeSnob sound pretty angry and snobbish (umm…), but the thing that makes his blog and book so appealing is his humor. Even though he will mercilessly rip the hipster who’s trying to sell his $250 fixie for $1,500, Greg LeMond for being old and bitter, or triathletes for being triathletes, he does so with so much humor and wit that you can’t help but laugh, especially since he’s usually right and it’s usually really funny.
The book reads as a sort of beginner’s guide to cycling – the different types of bikes, different types of cyclists (who knew there were so many?), some basic rules of cycling, the history of cycling, and the benefits of cycling for both fitness and commuting. If you’ve been cycling for a while and living in the “bike culture” (one of the Snob’s targets), then there’s not a whole not new here for you except for a quick and highly entertaining read, and you’ll no doubt be able to spot yourself and your friends among the Snob’s targets. If you’re new to cycling, then go out right now and get this book before making any of the mistakes that he pokes fun at. Every cyclist, whether a commuter or a Cat 1 racer, can get something out of this little tome.
If you’ve never heard of the BikeSnob, go out and get the book and enjoy. Then start reading his blog. The only complaint I have about the book is that it isn’t nearly as funny as his blog, but it’s still pretty humorous. This is due more to the medium than anything else. The blog allows him to be much more current, topical, and risqué (for example read the first paragraph of this post and I dare you not to laugh), which wouldn’t really translate well in book-form. His blog posts are laugh-out-loud funny, not smirk-funny, and contain loads of inside jokes that long-time readers still find funny.
If you do read bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com, then still get the book, It’s an enjoyable read, and let’s face it, how many more times can you read an article in Bicycling while sitting on the toilet about why Lance is so great. If you wait a couple of months, read the book while watching the Tour instead of listening to Liggett and Sherwen and their suitcases of pain.