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It's All About the Bike

Video Length 2:24

Who Should Read It

Anybody bicycle rider, past or present, who wants to remember why riding is so much fun.

Why Should We Read It

The author's passion for the bicycle is very evident, and it makes reading his book much more enjoyable.

What Will We Learn

We will explore the history of the development of the modern bicycle and learn how all of its intricate parts work together.

Book Summary

"My sister and I used our newfound skills to explore more of our neighborhood and find new kids with whom we could play."

Bicycles are familiar strangers to me. In my childhood, my father and uncles taught me to ride a bicycle, and my sister and I used our newfound skills to explore more of our neighborhood and find new kids with whom we could play. It was never more than a utilitarian toy to either of us. As we grew older, our bikes receded deeper into our parents' garage and further from my mind until they finally disappeared altogether. Those memories came pedaling back with Mr. Robert Penn's book It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels.

"Some of these innovations appear to coincide with the emergence of various social changes that led to the upward mobility of women and the working class."

I still vividly remember the first moment I successfully rode a bicycle without falling. That thrill of riding without training wheels is a childhood memory without equal. Mr. Penn's historical accounts of the development of the modern bicycle had a similar cadence. Each mechanical innovation would spark a renewed exuberance for the bicycle, which would then ebb back to a pragmatic norm. Some of these innovations appear to coincide with the emergence of various social changes that led to the upward mobility of women and the working class. Mr. Penn's book is not, of course, a sociology dissertation, but his intertwining of the bicycle within a larger historical context is fascinating and compelling.

"...there has never been another invention like the bicycle that more efficiently and naturally projects pure human manpower."

I suspect that most people are like me when it comes to thinking about the bicycle- a nifty hobby that's excellent for exercise though a bit impractical for transportation. Mr. Penn might argue that there has never been another invention like the bicycle that more efficiently and naturally projects pure human manpower. But his purpose in writing It's All About the Bike was never really about changing how we might think about the bicycle. Rather, it is the personal memoir of a life-long passion that culminated in the construction of his ultimate bespoke bicycle. It is something we can all relate to, and perhaps even inspire us to go riding again for new adventures.

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