Here’s what the critics had to say. (By the way, they were right: We put an index in later printings.)
Strickland’s Quotable Cyclist — more than 900 brief ruminations on “love, hate, speed, adventure, disaster, glory, desire, freedom and all the rest,” — is a timely and charmingly evocative Bartlett’s of the bicycle. Helen Keller loved her tandem because “the rapid rush through the air gives me a delicious sense of strength and buoyancy.” The notoriously hedonistic John F. Kennedy declared, perhaps disingenuously, that “nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” The legendary inexpressiveness of professional racers is perhaps too much in evidence in The Quotable Cyclist, but then there are the last words of Tom Simpson, who died after crashing in the 1967 Tour de France: “Put me back on my bike.”
The Quotable Cyclist is an amazing collection of quotes on the sport of cycling from pro racers, philosophers, bike mechanics, poets and everyone in between. Thoroughly entertaining, the book spans every conceivable subject from mountain biking to love, hate and the need for speed.
— Mountain Biker
Isaac d’Israeli, in his Curiosities of Literature, said that “the wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages may be preserved by Quotation,” and this can certainly be found to be true in the pages of The Quotable Cyclist. Having kept my own journal of quotations for over ten years, this book really struck a chord with me. Strickland, a contributing editor for Mountain Bike magazine and former editor of Bicycling and Writer’s Digest, has made a concerted effort to bring together a collection of observations on all aspects of cycling that is astounding in its proportions. Included are over 900 quotes from over 400 people on subjects such as love, hate, racing, equipment, climbing, descending, and more. Each section, of which my favorite has to be the one on “Legends, Myths and Champions,” is headed with an introduction by the author. What’s so fascinating about these quotes are not all the famous athletes and industry folks that are included, but the words of wisdom and inspiration from people you wouldn’t necessarily expect, like John Lennon, John F. Kennedy, Vladimir Nabokov, Shaquille O’Neal, Aldous Huxley, Jean-Paul Sartre, Carl Sagan, Leon Trotsky, and Mandible Jones.
But what good are quotes? They’re great for spicing up speeches and impressing friends, but their real beauty is in their ability to create a mental image and to convey they author’s beliefs in a concise, and often beautiful manner. Like a haiku, a single good quotation can frequently sum up the entire message of a book or capture, through gloom and glory, the emotions we all feel. Great words of the famous and lesser known can preserve an event, an ideal, or an emotion for decades to come. Good quotations are wonderful to come by and a treasure when they spark fond recollections and nodding agreements. Jacques Anquetil, an inspirational figure, had a profound effect on some, as Andre Boucher says on seeing the great athlete for the first time: “I hold in my hand a born cyclist, whose actions make me think of the movements of a clock.” Philippe Brunel, in An Intimate Portrait of the Tour de France, said, “Anquetil took pleasure in provoking destiny.” The dichotomy of the source of athletic prowess is brought out by Octavio Bottecchia, who, after winning his first race, said “evidently one does not need an aptitude for this job,” and Per-olof Astrand stating that, “anyone interested in winning Olympic gold medals must select his or her parents very carefully.”
From base humor to intellectual insights and everything in-between, there is plenty here for everyone, whether you’re a tourist, roadie, mountain biker, downhiller, casual cyclist, or all of the above. Aesthetically, The Quotable Cyclist is beautiful. This short, fat hardcover feels so good in the hands it makes one feel smart just holding it. With its exceptional binding, it is built to last and be used.
In the back of the book there are one-sentence bios of the quotees included, but to my dismay there is no index, something no non-fiction book should be without. Lacking an index, The Quotable Cyclist makes it an ordeal to go back and find a passage by a particular person, but despite this glaring omission, I still give this fine work my highest recommendation: 10 (out of ten).
— Bicycle Book News
. . .a compilation of wise, funny, inspiring, witty, poignant, sassy, scary, wonderful quotes about cycling. . . . There’s a lot of wisdom here, for all endurance athletes.
— Runner’s Books
A treasure trove of quips, quotes, sayings, curses, pronouncements, poetry, profundity and humor from everyone from Mark Twain to Mario Cipollini.
You might space out on your training ride if you pick up this collection of great cycling quotes, edited by Bill Strickland, a former Bicycling editor. It contains 900 tasty quotes about topics ranging from trail riding to the Tour de France — probably the last time you’ll find quotes from Tinker Juarez, Mark Twain, Lance Armstrong and John F. Kennedy in the same book.
With chapters on mountain biking and road riding, fitness, training, races, women in cycling, winning and losing, crashes, love and hate, this book has something for everyone who ever rode a bike. Each quip, quote, saying and curse captures the pure essence of cycling.
— Bicycle Retailer and Industry News
“Bike riding as little as three miles a day will improve your sex life.” Could be. Who knows? I’ve ridden so many miles I’ve forgotten what life is like without cycling, so I really can’t tell.
But the man who said that, a doctor named Franco Antonini, thought cycling a tonic for the libido, and he may have been right. Or perhaps he just shared the Italian passion for the sport, also expressed by racer Marco Pantani. Shortly after colliding head-on with a car, Pantani said, he went back to “descending flat-out, and without thinking about it I was flying and taking risks. I felt liberated.”
The words of these gentlemen can be found in a new and irresistible book, The Quotable Cyclist, edited by Bill Strickland, who has made himself a nice career combining his loves for riding and writing.
Strickland has unearthed an amazing array of people who have voiced opinions on cycling over the past 100 years or so, from Mark Twain, William Saroyan and Stephen Crane to Helen Keller and Pablo Picasso and, naturally, a long list of racers. Not to mention Helen Hayes, Shaquille O’Neal and Albert Einstein.
All agree with Pantani: They all feel liberated on a bike. Cycling, like baseball, seems to inspire writers to flights of fantasy, romance and nostalgia. Just as W.P. Kinsella’s dreamlike Shoeless Joe could not have been written about football, Saroyan would not have called the motorcycle, “the noblest invention of mankind.”
There’s a gentleness and grace about a bike. It’ll take you anywhere you want to go, as fast as you want to pedal, or as slowly. “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live,” Mark Twain advised, with characteristic irony.
Historian Henry Adams, learning to ride at the age of 50 after the death of his wife, declared his bike “a means of new life.”
Bob Weir, of the Grateful Dead, once said that “Bicycles are almost as good as guitars for meeting girls.
“You not bike rider, you nobody,” said Eddy Borysewicz, the Polish cycling coach who led the U.S. Olympic team in 1984. The eccentric and autocratic Eddy B (as he was called) believed that “Riders are not ducks, so they shouldn’t drink plain water.”
As you can see, this is a popcorn book, one to be nibbled a bit at a time, and at random. Unfortunately, that’s how you have to read it. Strickland has included a table of contents indicating where you’ll find quotes on training, the first ride, women in cycling, crashes, etc., but he erred in omitting an index.
And his citations can be maddeningly vague. He does not say, for example, where or when President John F. Kennedy said, “Nothing compares with the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
Interested in finding all of Ernest Hemingway’s quotes? Want to know what the racer Eddy Merckx had to say? You’re on your own. Of course, during your search you’ll stumble across, and no doubt savor, bits of bike wisdom from John Galsworthy and Susan B. Anthony, so maybe there’s no harm done.
A word of disclosure: Among his more than 900 quotations, Strickland has dug up an old line of mine from an article written many years ago.
It’s a terrific book, nevertheless, and it’s an honor to be in it.
— Robert P. Laurence, The San Diego Union-Tribune