The Urban Biking Handbook by Charles Haine: biking from start to finish

The Urban Biking Handbook
One of the most comprehensive books on bikes and city cycling

This US book, subtitled “The DIY Guide to Building, Rebuilding, Tinkering with, and Repairing Your Bicycle for City Living” (perhaps a record length for a subtitle?) is the most comprehensive I’ve read on the subject. If you’re an experienced cyclist the first few chapters are going to seem very basic and mundane as they carefully describe the different types of bicycle, where they came from and what’s suitable for what. All but the most knowledgable of us will find something new here though in a book that’s as clearly and simply written as it is informative. With chapters that cover choosing your bike, city riding, cycling attire, bicycle customisation and even how to go on a cycling date or holiday, it’s the most comprehensive book I’ve found that’s entirely dedicated to bikes and cycling. It will be particularly useful to those who want to encourage friends or family to take up cycling because it provides a gentle introduction to the subject and explains any cycling jargon as it goes along. Easy to read and a mine of information. Even at a rather pricey £9.78 for the Kindle edition, I recommend it.

Biking and breakfast…a great way to start the day

One of my favourite things about cycling to work is how great you feel when you arrive…alive, alert and ready to face the day. My commute is about 7.5 miles from South Wraxall in Wiltshire to my office that overlooks the Royal Crescent in the beautiful city of Bath.

Royal Crescent, Bath
My commuting destination, an office adjacent to Bath’s famous Royal Crescent

It starts with a 2 mile climb, nothing too strenuous, then a steep 2 mile descent into Bathford followed by a fairly level run into Bath, dodging the trucks and other traffic. There’s only a token gesture by Bath City Council towards this being a cycle friendly route. A few white lines on parts of the road through Batheaston and then a couple of minor diversions as the road narrows whereby the cyclist is taken briefly off the road onto the footpath before being thrown back into the path of following traffic about 10 metres further on. Whoever designed these ‘cycling safety lanes’ has obviously never ridden a bike in his life!

Chai tea and porridge..a reward to myself for the winter commute
Chai tea and porridge..a reward to myself for the winter commute

This morning I set off in the dark, the only downside of which is having to dodge the potholes on the descent toward Bath. As I write this now, I’ve just finished breakfast: a pot of porridge with honey and a cup of Vanilli Chai tea (I keep wanting to call it Tai Chi, but that’s just my age..). This indulgent breakfast is my little reward to myself for not taking the easy option and hopping in the car. And in some ways it’s the best part of the day. Off to work……