Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Robert's Mini Bike Book Review

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)
By Sue Macy

Review by Robert Leone      

March is Women's History Month. Why not read a celebration of distaff cycling! First, though, a warning: Wheels of Change is written for the education market, meant to be read by teens, and published by National Geographic. The resulting product is filled with a dizzying array of sidebars, illustrations, captions, and color. Despite the sometimes overwhelming display of National Geographic graphic design prowess, this is a great read! From a time when the widest distribution of popular culture was sheet music, readers will learn of such songs as "Get Your Lamps Lit" - about night riding safety. We also learn of such athletes as distance riding phenomenon Dora Rinehart, and fierce competitors Jane Yatman and Jane Lindsey. The two Janes traded setting timed riding records along the same 20 mile course, while Rinehart guided her single-speed safety bicycle for hundreds of miles over the roads of Colorado before the turn of the last century. 
It's not just exemplary athletes, either, as any League Cycling Instructor could profit from the story of how Woman's Christian Temperance Union stalwart Frances Willard learned to ride a bike at the age of 53. Don't let the intended youth audience deter your reading this book. Macy's work and research are original, not a simplified version of an "adult" text. The resulting text and its accompanying pictures, the references, the trends and anecdotes, are not available in any other single place to the same extent as they are here. Find and savor it.

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