Browse Category by books

Things you read. Or just look at the pictures. Or heck- burn them.

Bicycle, books, Events, Film/video, Media, News, Seattle

Street Books: Pedal-Powered Library

The Street Books bookbike is an adult, three-wheeled tricycle that has a specially-created box in the front. When you open it up, it has bookshelves and it can hold hundreds of books. The bookbike will be pedaling out to different locations to check out books, give away library cards, give out information about library programs and literacy projects, as well as bike maps and bike programs.Bookbike

Patrons are issued an official Street Books library card without being required to show proof of address or identification. Using an old-school library pocket and a card that patrons sign and leave with us. During our twice-weekly shifts, patrons stop by to check out and return library books. They are invited to be photographed with their book, and these photos and stories are collected at:


For more information check out Books On Bikes from SPL and

Video from Seattle Public Library on the launching of Street Books, featuring Mayor Mike McGinn.

books, Gear, Reviews

Just Ride: The Secrets of Unracing

As commuters, enthusiasts and other non-occupational cyclists, it seems like a lot of our collective bicycle knowledge comes from The Ones Who Came Before: those folks that – at least at one point – knew more about cycling than we did. So we accept what they have to say, and by the time other wide-eyed fledglings come to us for advice, it has become so engrained in our bicycle background that we probably have then passed it on ourselves. It is the lore of the basement home shop, the bards’ song of the bicycle lane, some of which is incredibly useful and can save a new cyclist from having to learn tough lessons on their own.

BUT. I was born in Missouri, the Show Me state. I blame this for my inability to accept anything without question. I call it being healthily incredulous; my girlfriend uses other words. When someone tells me something that doesn’t sit well with what I know – or think I know – I have learned to mostly hold my tongue. I’m not sure Grant Petersen has ever held his tongue, and I think we’re all a little better for it. His new book – Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike – is an attempt to undo much of what many of us think we know. Continue Reading

Bicycle, books

The Enlightened Cyclist

Eben Weiss aka BikeSnobNYC has a new book out.  And he’ll be coming to Seattle on April 11th.  So if you like snarky authors- and want to read about somebody that is cooler than you because he did it before you did- you should check it out.  I know I will.

And he made a “sweet edit” too.  I heard it’s going to come in different colorways and that he’s doing a collab with Mike Giant that involves a limited run book cover.

Bicycle, books

Bike Art. The book.

Now available from Gingko Press.  A book about the bicycle in art.  256 pages in a hard cover with 900 images.  A good thing for that table that you put your feet on while watching TV. $34.95 and available HERE

Bicycle, books, Clothing, Gear

Kits, kits, kits.

I got an email from Gregory Klein the other day about some of the projects he’s been working on as of late.  They include a few fine kits made by Pactimo, as well as a journal- which you may recognize as similar to the design work he did for the Bike Snob NYC book.

Looking good Gregory!

And for the ladies:

See more, and order the jerseys HERE

You can also pick up his wonderfully done journal through Chronicle Books for $9.95.

Bicycle, books

“I love my bike” book release

Matthew and Brittain came through Seattle a while back and took some photos with their bikes.  Well they’ve been wrapping up the project and now it has a release date!

160 full-color pages of people that they met along the way.  It’s available for pre-order HERE, and the price is $16.95

books, Gear

The Peloton

Berlin-based photographer Timm Kölln has been traveling in Europe for the past five years, taking photos of the entire professional peloton moments after they cross the finish line.  Capturing the grit and emotion in their faces after completing race after race- this book will be amazing I’m sure.

Available for preorder through Rouleur HERE


Timm Kölln’s substantial body of work focuses on reportage and series of portraits, and he has made a name for himself as an extraordinary observer of road racing. A self-taught photographer, he is an advocate for the continued use of analogue techniques. He is a major contributor to Rouleur Magazine.

books, Gear, Reviews

Book review: Two Wheels North


Two Wheels North:  Bicycling the West Coast in 1909 by Eveln McDaniel Gibb tells the story of two boys, Vic McDaniel and Ray Francisco, that left their home in 1909 to ride their wheels north to Seattle for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.  It took them 54 days.  They kept in touch with their local paper, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat– who’s editor promised them $25 if they made it all the way to the fair.

On their best day they traveled 64 miles, over roads that could scarcely be called roads at all.  Many miles were traveled on foot, pushing their heavy steel bikes and packs up and occasionally down whatever surface lay ahead. The best roads were gravel that had been recently oiled.  Multiple times they had to stop and find a brazier as the welds failed on the bikes, sometimes while riding.

The coaster brake hubs that the bikes were equipped with, though the best at the time, still had to be rebuilt after big decents.  No Phil Wood grease available- they used Vaseline, the best thing going.  They learned little tricks like chopping down a tree when they reached the top of a grade and tying it to the rear of their bikes for the descent, saving the wear on their brake.

They camped outside, fished for their dinner, worked when they needed money, had run-ins with pick pockets and hustlers as well as meeting many kind people along the way.

The two boys, just out of highschool, arrived in Seattle- with many stories to tell and in time to gain their $25.

Two Wheels North contains pictures of the postcards that were sent to keep in touch with their family and the Press Democrat as well as photos of the boys.  A daunting task for anyone, the fact that these kids were just out of high school makes their trip even more intriguing.

A good story and a quick read- with a look back at what the West was, at the towns as they were just coming into their own- and the people that lived there.

People familiar with the West Coast may find this book more entertaining, but anyone with a love for cycling history will likely appreciate it.

I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

art, books, Events, Travel

I love my bike book Seattle

Matt and Brittain came through town last month and snapped some photos of those that were into the idea of supporting their book- “I love my bike”  It’s a pretty neat project, and it sounds like they’ve met some great people.  Here are a couple pics from their gallery online.

Check out the website HERE

I can't remember this guy's name- but he loves his bike too!
I can't remember this guy's name- but he loves his bike too!

It was nice to meet Matt and Brittain both, and we are excited to see how the book turns out!

books, Penny farthing, Travel

Penny Farthing Friday. Book Report.

I have planned many epic bike tours in my head.  Whether it’s riding down the Pacific Coast from Vancouver to Baja, riding across the US, a tour of Italy, or a ride across Europe, I’ve romanticized the freedom enjoyed during a lengthy bike tour.  In reality, I have very little touring experience. It’s limited to trips of a couple days in length- on the coast of California- and can better be described as “bike-camping” than “bike-touring.”

Don’t get me wrong, I have traveled a lot, and I’ve traveled WITH my bike, riding in many of this nation’s fine cities.  I just haven’t traveled ON my bike much.  I will.  One day.  My old ride was a Cannondale touring bike, which was fully dressed with racks, bags, fenders;  built for the road.  I used the bike for work and it was a great urban bike.  Eventually it became time to upgrade- the wheels and drivetrain needed to be replaced, but it cost more than I had, or could spend.  I gave the bike to a friend, and downgraded to a bike given to me:  A spray painted camouflage Huffy- totally chopped and screwed.  No shifters- the rear derailleur was fixed into place, and acted as a chain tensioner.  Changing the gears on the chainring was possible however; through a simple, though slightly dangerous procedure.  While pedaling, you could reach down and grab the chain, lifting it onto the chainring of your choice.  No big deal.  I called the bike “Two Speeds of Trouble”, or “Trouble” for short.  While riding my new steed, I oft thought back to a sticker that I had on an old Stumpjumper that read- “I’d rather push my bike than ride a Huffy.”  Well- there I was, trying to think of new slogans- “Huffys are for Toughies” or “I’d rather ride a Huffy, than walk.”  I liked that old bike.  I think that riding a bike like that helped expand my love for all things two wheeled.  I rode that bike because if I don’t have a bike in my life, I’m just not that happy.  It’s a habit that I don’t want to kick.

Bike touring is often thought of as something for elite people.  You “need” to have a modern touring specific bike- with a 27+ gears and disk or cantilever brakes.  You “need” to have new gear- ultra light sleeping bag, tent, shoes, computer, all the bells and whistles straight out of an REI catalog.

The fact is that there is a human element to bike touring that is often overlooked.  The engine.  You can ride anything you want on a bike tour- heck- I want to read about a mini-bike tour.  The only thing likely to change if you choose a set up that is not optimal, is the speed you will travel, and the distance traveled per day.  If you have the time- then you can make anything work.


Back in the “old days” I sometimes think that people were tougher.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the people that ate boot leather when times got tough were definitely of a different mind, if not body, than those of us that eat Top Ramen when times are tough.  There was a time when riding a bike was done on hard rubber tires.  When a one speed was all you needed, and you didn’t need brakes, well, because they acted as more of a hazard than a help.  Before synthetic wicking fabrics and padded cycling shorts.  Before clipless pedals and gps units.  There was a time when all you needed to cross the country was a bike, a pistol, and maybe an introduction letter from an official stating that you were an upstanding citizen, and that you should be treated with respect.

To get a taste of times like this- pick up “Around the World on a Bicycle” by Thomas Stevens.  The original two volume work was published in 1887 in both the US and the UK and contained nearly 1,000 pages of text.  I borrowed a 1984 abridged version from the local library- which is in the Seattle Library system- or you can find a copy online, in the abridged, or two volume set (be prepared to pay a pretty penny for an old copy of the two volume)

“The first essential element of success is to have sufficient confidence iin one’s self to brave the criticisms–of a skeptical public.

So eight o’clock on the morning of April 22, 1884, finds me and my fifty-inch machine on the Oakland pier”

With that, Thomas Stevens started east; riding his newly acquired black Columbia 50-inch Standard High Wheeler- and carrying with him in his handlebar bag:  socks, a spare shirt, a raincoat that also acted as a tent and bedroll, and a .38 Smith and Wesson pistol.  He met up and was welcomed by many cycling clubs that were popping up in cities everywhere.  He also had to protect himself from mountain a mountain lion, dodge a wild horse stampede, and travel over very poor roads (you won’t complain about Georgetown pot holes when you think of Stevens crossing the Sierras in the spring with paved roads not invented yet.)  He arrived in Boston on August 4th, 1884.  In that, he stopped for 20 days along the way and rode 83-1/2 days, traveling a total distance of 3700 miles and completing the first transcontinental journey by bicycle.  That however, was only the beginning.

He then went on to travel through more countries than you can count on both hands, and was met with varying degrees of hospitality including spending the winter in Teheran, Iran- as a guest of the Shah, and having to be hidden while in China, as rioters were unhappy because of a war with the French, and he was the closest around that resembled their enemy.

The bicycle portion of the book ends on December 17th 1886 (123 years ago), with, by Steven’s account, totaled 13,500 miles.

Reading the abridged version was a little difficult at times, it jumps around quite a bit- which I guess is fairly necessary in anything that goes from 1,000 pages down to less than 150.  My favorite part of the edition that I read was the artwork.  The original engravings by W.C. Rogers and others were reproduced to the exact size and included as they did in the original work.  One of my current favorite images of all time right now is the one of Thomas Stevens hiding behind his 50″ wheel, taking aim at a mountain lion with his little snub nosed .38 pistol.  I can just imagine: “Yeah so I was just riding along and this damn mountain lion came up and was going eat me, so I just pulled out my gat and popped a round off, scaring that little bastard away.   Yeah, it was no big deal.  So I got back on my bike and kept riding”  So gangster.

Thomas Stevens (original engraving- Kelly 1887)

If you are a fan of travel, old-timey illustration, or history, you’ll likely enjoy this book.  Times were different then, but he still has a hard time in Afghanistan (he gets kicked out) and he gets charged twice as much when traveling the railroads because he has a bicycle (non-bike packages of the same size are not double charged- some things never change)  Many areas that Stevens traveled in were home to people that had never seen a bicycle.  What a trip that would be!  He does at times use porters and “coolies” to transport his bike over some mountain passes and rivers, and he looks down on these people as lesser, it feels a bit classist in this regard.  In this, you can definitely feel that it was written over 120 years ago.

All in all, it was well worth the read, and you should check it out- taste a little history.  I’ll now be adding a Penny Farthing Tour to my list of epic tours.