This book is misnamed. Ok it gets better attention, than if is was named say, "Some Terrific Collected Bicycling Stories That Will Make You Laugh, Smile, Cry, Hope, Take You Away from Your Boring Life, and Make You Feel Young, Happy to Be Alive, and Proud to Be a Cyclist." But that is just nit picking.
Cycling's Greatest Misadventures, is a collected work of genuine cycling stories that fall into the category of Shared Pain. Get two or more cyclist together in one spot and invariably they will begin with stories of pain and agony on their rides and end up pulling at their street clothes to reveal scars and old wounds. A common practice amongst us, our bodies and their scars constitute our visual artistic history, and our words and tales of daring do, are our verbal history. Somehow Cycling's Greatest Misadventures combines the two.
Starting off with a great quote from Jack London, "Ever Bike?" Erich has chosen tales that will figuratively transport you from your boring commute onto the roads or trails of the authors, and in each story you will find events feelings and, yes, tragedies with which you can identify, not merely as a cyclist, but as a human as well.
I find myself stumbling over the word tragedy, and begin to appreciate how apropos the use of "misadventure" actually is. Our literary journeys begin with the introduction in which Erich relates his first blush with amorous flirtation as a slightly post pubescent teen. It occurs on a bike and as you may suspect, it ends badly, but the beauty is, that we identify!
Each "chapter" is a short story of cycling that goes "wrong" but there is always a learning experience, or a kernel of human spirit that transcends the inconvenience, near disaster, death or destruction, that each story portrays. The titles range from, "Lost and Found in Boisie, Idaho," and "Spin Cycle," to "The Day I Beat Miguel Indurain," and "Riding Tandem with Rodent." The stories are a brief as two pages, but never longer than an easy read on a 45 minute commute.
The joy in this book comes out of the simple fact that cycling begins with accepting the fact that to learn to cycle, you must learn to fall, and get up again. We each, as cyclists, have learned that we succeed through and as a result of our failures, and that our most memorable cycling experiences arise from snatching our greatest achievements out of the hands of what appeared to be inevitable defeat, perseverance in the face of what appears to be inevitable and insurmountable adversity is our calling card, and it threads itself throughout this wonderful collection of bicycling tales.
I believe that Cycling's Greatest Misadventures contains one of the most poignant, and effective descriptions of being a New Orleans Katrina survivor that I have read, seen, or listened to. That story alone is worth the price of admission. Buy this book, read it, and then know that you laugh, smile, choke up, and cry with the rest of your cycling brothers and sisters. You are united in your adventures, ultimately they are all positive, so is the experience of reading this book.
You can submit your own stories for the next edition of this book at: