Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tinker, Biker, Beggerman, Nerd

Title: The Urban Biking Handbook
Author: Charles Haine
Bookmark: a business card with a ludicrously long title

For Christmas, I asked for a book on building (and repairing) one's own bicycle.  I had been inspired by an event I attended in November (the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show), and an article from a magazine I picked up at said event.  Beautiful bikes, custom-built to be a perfect fit for both the size and riding preferences of their owners.  Pricy, of course, because they involve someone making a frame to fit your frame, but I figured it could be a good project for me; I love biking, and I feel that a mechanical engineer who doesn't know the second thing about his car's engine should at least be able to take care of his own bike, or stop calling himself an engineer.

The book is specifically targeted at people who do the majority of their biking in cities.  So far, that isn't me, but while that is the book's promise, the scope is a bit broader than the cover might imply.  It even has good information no matter how much biking experience you have.  Some of the chapters (what to wear while biking) and How-Tos (jumping a curb or fixing a flat) are stuff I've known since my early teens, but others (the wide variety of, and subtle differences between frame types; how to grease and re-pack bearings) were fascinating new stuff for me.

Haine would benefit from a good proof-reader--there were some weird typos, and a couple instances when the large intro to a chapter, printed bold in the margin, was just a paragraph of text from that chapter (including one instance where it was the entirety of the chapter)--and I was disappointed both that the very brief section on the cases for and against helmets had ANY case against helmets.  For that matter, it also bothered me that many of the pictures which showed bikers wearing helmets (there were at least as many without) showed helmets that were improperly adjusted.  Hopefully, anyone looking to get into biking would consult more than one book, but as someone who's been bounced off one or two cars who weren't paying attention to me OR road laws, WEAR YOUR DAMN HELMET!  And take a look at the book--good information, lots of pictures.

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posted by reyn at 11:50 AM


Thursday, January 05, 2012

Marathon Moron

Title: Marathon Training for Dummies
Author: Tere Stouffer Drenth
Bookmark: a four-year-old note to myself.

Shortly after I announced to family that I was going to run my first half-marathon, I got this book for Christmas.  It has since spent a few years largely unregarded.  This past fall, I started training for my third half-marathon (I did not get my fastest half-marathon time, but I am most proud of this particular race, if only for the respectable time on a grueling course) and picked up the book in earnest.

Originally, I had joked that I'd only read half of it because I'm only a half-marathoner (by the same logic, I tell people that I only run half-marathons because I'm only half in shape), but of course that wasn't the case.  The book is focused on marathon training, but it covers lots of good habits for running, even if I disagree with some of the information in the nutrition chapter.  The section on running injuries also gave me an exciting and painful way to avoid shin splints, which are usually the reason I stop running for months at a time.  So far, so good.

The book was published in 2003, so some of the information may already be out of date, but it was still a good resource for me, and allowed me to have slightly more solid footing when arguing with my own running expert.  More importantly, it made me feel a little better, if not wholly confident, in my own running ability (especially when the book would mention a marathon goal time I found absurdly long, allowing me to think "even I could do that!!").  My first marathon is still somewhere in my indeterminate future, but it's nice to have this resource at hand, even if I didn't really finish reading it until last night, three months after my race. (don't judge me--once I crossed the finish line, the book became a little inconsequential to my race)

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posted by reyn at 4:24 PM