Boneshaker: A Bicycling Almanac

I’m slightly ashamed to admit that, as of mid-2013, my print reading has, on a whole, fallen into two categories. The first is comics. I’ll stubbornly argue the superiority of the physical media for sequential art for the foreseeable future. Even as a tech journalist, I’ve yet to encounter an experience compelling enough to convince me to swipe through panels (I love you, Comixology, but I’m just not ready for the commitment). The second is travel — until the day the FCC comes to its senses, I’ll continue to shove a paperback into my carryon, between the laptop and Kindle. As of late, the latter has begun occurring with increasing frequency, an so, too, has my consumption of small, tree-based volumes.

On a recent daylong trip to Boulder, Colorado, I discovered this volume sitting unassumingly out front in the magazine section of a used bookstore. Until this morning, I couldn’t have begun to tell you what, precisely, a Bicycling Almanac entires. Now on my second plane of the day, I’m wondering how I’ve managed to go so long without such a thing, as a major proponent of both two-wheeled transport and small, well-packaged printed material. And when I’m off this lousy airplane WiFi, I fully plan to subscribe to the thing.

There’s lots jammed in here — short stories, accessory reviews, amateur comics. There’s an amusing reposting from Craiglist and a meditation on the utility of bicycles amongst the homeless. But what really made me fall in love amongst the cramped recycled air are the pieces of historical import, like the 1900 patent grant for the bicycle, which seems of more direct relation to Michelangelo’s flying machines than the current crop of 12 speed dirt bikes. And then there’s the collection of turn of the century quotes about this breakthrough invention.

“Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.” That’s credited to Elizabeth West, writing in Hovel. In an 1895 issue of the Minneapolis Tribune, meanwhile, Ann Strong compares the invention favorably to a husband, albeit on you can throw out after wearing it down, “without shocking the entire community.” I mean, if that doesn’t make you want to take a ride, you’re beyond hope, really.

All that and more, compiled it a beautiful little $8 package. It’s the next best thing to coasting downhill with the wind in your hair, really.

The current issue of Boneshaker is sold out. But back issues are available from Wolverine Farm Publishing Co.