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Thursday, September 03, 2009
  David Byrne Bicycle Diaries
By Yokota Fritz 
Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne I got a preview copy of David Bryne's new book, Bicycle Diaries. Byrne of Talking Heads fame started using a bike to get around New York City in the 80s. Before long, he started toting a folding bike around while touring. "I discovered that zipping from one place to another by bike was amazingly fast and efficient," Byrne writes in the introduction. "I felt more connected to the life on the streets."

Byrne's writes about these connections in Bicycle Diaries as he makes observations about the values, economics and hopes that he sees in a town's stores, museums, temples, and office buildings. This isn't a book about bicycling, per se, but it's about the parts of a city you see while riding a bicycle.

I've just started reading it and I like it. I'll have a further review when the book is released on September 21.

David Byrne will be in San Francisco at the Herbst Theater for a book signing on Tuesday, September 29 at 8 PM.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009
  Cyclist's Training Bible by Joe Friel
By Yokota Fritz 
Joe Friel's The Cyclist's Training Bible is the book to get if you want to get better, faster and stronger on the bike.

More details: The Cyclist's Training Bible. Author Joe Friel has a blog.


Friday, June 12, 2009
  Jason Bourne rides a bicycle
By Yokota Fritz 
My morning commute reading this week is The Bourne Sanction by Eric van Lustbader.

Guilty pleasure

I was kind of a fan of Robert Ludlum and the first couple of Jason Bourne books. Sanction is kind of meh -- there's a power struggle between the U.S. military and the CIA that only Bourne can defuse and an Islamo-Nazi (!) terrorist scheme that only Bourne can stop. Bourne can turn any object into a weapon, leap tall buildings, dodge speeding bullets and even ward off the effects of tranquilizing darts with chocolate bars, but he's unable to ride a bicycle through DC city traffic.

Jason Bourne is chasing The Bad Guys when he takes a bike from a gutter bunny and runs red lights to catch up to his quarry.
Bourne was able to make good headway, as the GMC had been slowed by the sludgy traffic. Just as he neared the light he saw the GMC take off and knew he had been spotted. The problem with a bicycle, especially one that had caused a minor uproar lunging through a red light, was that the cyclist became conspicuous.

Bourne threw caution to the wind, following the accelerating GMC into the fork as it took Pennsylvania Avenue. Swerving in and out between vehicles, he put on another burst of speed. Just as he was coming abreast of the far crosswalk, a gaggle of drunk teenagers tumbled off the curb on their way across the avenue. They closed off the lane behind the GMC.

Bourne swerves to avoid the teenagers, hits the curb and endos into a crowd on the sidewalk.

Bourne's mistake: He aimed for the sidewalk. He clearly should have taken the lane directly behind the GMC.

Van Lustbader's storytelling, dialog and plot are all pretty weak, but his word pictures are superb, engaging all of my senses through his prose.

Amazon: Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Sanction


Thursday, April 30, 2009
  Chrysler bankruptcy, the bike industry and the American way
By Yokota Fritz 
I'm reading Robert Hurst's latest book The Cyclist's Manifesto. In Chapter 2 on the history of cycling, Hurst writes about the hundreds of bike factories, suppliers and dealers that went out of business in the late 1890s after automobiles started becoming popular. An entire industry -- the industry that laid the foundation for automobile mass production with the development of tooling, production techniques, machining expertise, and even little things like ball bearings, gears and pneumatic tires -- was annihilated with the coming of cars.

There was no Federal bailout back then, so many factories were "destroyed by suspicious fires" in apparent insurance fraud. Writes Hurst:
Attempting to unload one's toxic financial obligations unto other parties has become a convention of American culture. You've got to feel for the SUV dealers, in an era of high-tech fire protection systems and masterful inspectors. Will the dealers get a spot at the bailout trough alongside the manufacturers? Keep an eye out for 'eco-terrorists."
The Cyclist's Manifesto available now. Hurst's writing is always fun and informative.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009
  Giveaway: Bike to Work Guide
By Yokota Fritz 
Today's giveaway is the Bike To Work Guide: Save Gas, Go Green, Get Fit by cyclists Roni Sarig and Paul Dorn. The copy I'm awarding is my slightly dog-eared and marked up review copy of the book.

Paul Dorn's  Bike to Work Guide

You might recognize Paul Dorn as the author of the popular Bike Commute Tips blog and his excellent Bike Commuting Tips web resource. Paul is a long time transportational cyclist and a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor who was involved in the early days of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition as a board member. Later, he served as executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition. Today, Paul bikes to work in the Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community of Davis, California. Paul and I exchange emails frequently as we argue about the importance of vehicular cycling education, but I consider him a friend and a great ally in promoting cyclist rights on the road.

The Bike To Work Guide began as a revision of Roni Sarig's The Everything Bicycle Book. In this edition for the bike commuter, Paul contributes his expertise gained from his years of experience commuting by bike. The book is targeted for the beginner with little cycling experience as it steps him or her through the process of selecting a bike (avoid the local discount mart, he says), choosing the right gear, route finding, riding safely in traffic, parking your bike at the office, and cleaning up once you get there.

The prose is spare and to the point. Sure, you could read all of this stuff on the web, but this printed little handbook is convenient and easy to carry around. It's not quite pocket sized, but it fits well in a purse or manpurse. If you have a friend who would like to start commuting to work by bike, this guide makes a good gift.

Keenan in Crestview, Florida is the winner! 50 people entered the drawing via Twitter. I used the random number generator at, which spit out the magic number "8."

To win: I'm doing this giveaway a little differently from my previous giveaways. I'll select a winner at random from everybody who enters between the time I post this and noon Pacific Time on Thursday, January 15.

To enter: Send a tweet by clicking this link with the text "Bike To Work Guide Giveaway #bikebook" to Twitter. I won't check super carefully, but if I notice more than one entry from a single person I'll disqualify that entry. The usual contest rules and limitations apply. Remember: this is a used copy of the book, so no complaints about the condition!


Tuesday, September 30, 2008
  A roadie with a blog
By Yokota Fritz 
Jamie Smith is a cyclist. He has an amusing blog on the life of an enthusiastic road cyclist. He also wrote a book that was illustrated by cycling comic strip artist Jef Mallet.

Should I buy this book? The reviews look pretty good.

According to, Podium Cafe says "This book earned Podium Cafe's first ever five-star rating!" But I can't find their review there: When I search for the author's name (Jamie Smith), I get no results. When I search for 'roadie' I get too many results. Imagine that.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008
  Rednecks on bicycles
By Yokota Fritz 
I've always enjoyed Jeff Foxworthy's comedy. I just ran across this book while browsing around for bike stuff on Click for details if you want...

I can't help but notice that the guns are pointed to the left, toward passing traffic.

In this YouTube video, Jeff Foxworthy gives his "Redneck fashion tips."

This would be a good book for Blue Collar Mountain Bike and the Mountain Bike Militia.


Saturday, September 22, 2007
  How Wars Are Won: Book review
By Yokota Fritz 
Because a good portion of my commute is by bus, I read many books. I try picking books on topics in which I have little interest in the hope of learning something new and interesting.

A while ago I though I'd learn something about military history, so I randomly chose A History of Warfare by military historian John Keegan. History was written by Keegan to debunk Carl von Clausewitz's famous theory that "war is merely a continuation of politics." I'm sure that's fascinating, but the book assumes in-depth knowledge of Clausewitz's writings, which I don't have.

Later, I tried again with a different book: Bevin Alexander's How Wars Are Won: The 13 Rules of War from Ancient Greece to the War on Terror, which is much more accessible. It helps to know something about European and Asian history, but Alexander covers each of the "13 rules of war" in separate chapters by describing the rule and giving examples from history where the rule was used effectively and other examples where the rule failed and why. The author then completes each chapter with discussion on how the rule can be applied in modern warfare and in the current "war on terror."

I couldn't help notice that each chapter is formulaic. After the opening paragraphs describing the rule, there's a historical example that begins with "[ Alexander the Great | Napoleon | Hannibal | Rommel | Genghis Khan | Stonewall Jackson | Mao ] applied this rule in one of the most brilliant battles recorded in history." In the following section, Alexander then describes a battle that was lost because the rule was not used, or because it was not applied or executed correctly. "This rule would have guaranteed victory, and it's inconceivable why [ Grant | Hitler | Lee | Napoleon ] failed to apply this rule to the battle, which resulted in major strategic losses that affected the outcome of the entire war." Finally, the closing paragraph applies the rule to the U.S. war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, obviously to make this book "relevant" and make it more marketable (the book was published in 2002). Invariably, this final paragraph includes the sentence, "This rule of war was how the Taliban in Afghanistan were destroyed by American special forces in the fall of 2001."

In spite of the formula and obvious last-minute additions on 9/11 and Afghanistan, How Wars is a very readable and interesting book. Alexander's writing as an armchair general gets a little annoying at times -- he often states his incomprehension of why battlefield commanders fail to comprehend the battlefield environment, and hence losing the battle. Anybody who has had to make quick decisions in a stressful situation, however, understands the "fog of war" and the tunnel vision that occurs.

What are the 13 rules of war?
  1. Striking at enemy weakness.
  2. Defend, then attack.
  3. Holding one place, striking another.
  4. Feigned retreat.
  5. The central position.
  6. Employing a superior weapon.
  7. Driving a stake in the enemy's heart.
  8. Blocking the enemy's retreat.
  9. Landing an overwhelming blow.
  10. Stroke at a weak spot.
  11. Caldron battles.
  12. Uproar east, attack west.
  13. Maneuvers on the rear.


Sunday, July 29, 2007
  Blue like jazz
By Yokota Fritz 
Today's Devotional comes from Donald Miller's book Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality:
My friend Andrew the Protester believes things. Andrew goes to protests where he gets pepper-sprayed, and he does it because he believes in being a voice of change. My Republican friends get frustrated when I paint Andrew as a hero, but I like Andrew because he actually believes things that cost him something. Even if I disagree with Andrew, I love that he is willing to sacrifice for what he believes. And I love that his beliefs are about social causes.

Andrews says it is not enough to be politically active. He says legislation will never save the world. On Saturday mornings Andrew feeds the homeless. He sets up a makeshift kitchen on a sidewalk and makes breakfast for people who live on the street. He serves coffee and sits with his homeless friends and talks and laughs, and if they want to pray he will pray with them.

All great Christian leaders are simple thinkers. Andrew doesn't cloak his altruism within trickle-down economic theory that allows him to spend fifty dollars on a round of golf to feed the economy and provide jobs for the poor. He actually believes that when Jesus says feed the poor, he means you should do this directly.

It doesn't matter what I say. It matters what I do. Andrew says I should not live like a politician, but like a Christian. Like I said, Andrew is a simple thinker.
Donald Miller's website includes the entire text of Chapter 1 along with several pages of excerpt from Blue Like Jazz. I like that book. Donald lives in Portland, audits classes and hangs out at Reed College and lives in an intentional community.


Friday, March 16, 2007
  Book: Bicycling and the Law
By Yokota Fritz 
Bob Mionske -- the lawyer who writes the "Legally Speaking" column that appears in VeloNews and other cycling publications -- has written a book: Bicycling and the Law. Order by March 17 on VeloGear and get a 20% discount by using the coupon code "ESBELAW." More about this book in his latest "Legally Speaking" column.

I don't get a dime from promoting this book, but I really like Mionske's writing and what he does to inform cyclists of our rights on the road.

Bicycling And The Law

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