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Book Review: Cycling Auckland

January 10, 2012
Cycling Auckland Book Review

Is cycling in Auckland growing?

Not to be confused with the Auckland cycling website it shares a name with, this is an entirely independent undertaking by NZ Herald staffer Catherine Smith. Catherine is a long-time rider and just the sort of cyclist we like at BFNS. Over the years she’s had children road-racing competitively and a husband charging around Lake Taupo encased in Lycra, but she still appreciates the bike as the simple machine that it is. A machine you can jump on in your everyday clothes and ride up to university, down to the dairy or off to the park with the kids. A pleasurable low-stress device for getting from A to B.

When I first picked the book up I was puzzled by the photograph on the cover. “That bike has no front wheel”, I chirped at the kids. Maybe the graphic-designer hasn’t ridden a bike in a while or thought we just wouldn’t notice? We noticed. It also reminded me of a certain Auckland cycling institution.

Inside there were some technical errors that annoyed me too, but they’re probably close enough to being “right” to not really matter in the grand scheme of things. If there’s a sequel in the making a once-over by a cycling authority, a bike-mechanic or such wouldn’t go amiss.

Once I got going I started to enjoy the book more. There’s lots of useful information for those new to cycling or returning after a long absence. Advice on bike-selection, clothing choices, accessories you shouldn’t be without. The often touchy subjects (amongst bicycle-advocates anyway) of helmets, high-vis and Lycra are handled well and there’s some good tips on potential hazards and safe route-planning. Many points are illustrated with black & white line-drawings.

Various categories of bicycles are described, riding with infants and young children is covered, key sections of the road-code summarized, indeed most of the stuff you need to know to cycle around Auckland is in there.

The last 71 pages (approaching half of the book) covers 20 rides in the greater Auckland area, most with accompanying maps. The routes I had ridden were described accurately and are a good starting point for stretching your legs, although I question Ponsonby Road’s “Suitable for Kids” rating?

Would I buy this book? Probably not, but I’m an experienced cyclist and this title is aimed more at the beginner. Much of the content can be found on the internet (some on this very site), so as a web-savvy cyclist you probably wouldn’t buy it either. But it’s nice to have this information all wrapped-up in one volume for easy reference and it would make a wonderful gift for someone who’s itching to get pedaling in the City of Sails.

Author: Catherine Smith
Publisher: New Holland
Paperback / Black & White Text / 160 pages
Recommended Retail: $29.99

Disclaimer: The book was provided free-of-charge for review by the publisher.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 11, 2012 3:14 pm

    Thanks for the review Antoine, I wondered what this one was like. I was initially a bit disappointed when I read about it’s launch as it’s the book that I thought we could do. The midget assassin appears to be enjoying it too.

    By the way, New Holland put out ‘Art Galleries to visit in New Zealand’ at the same time – with one of Mum’s paintings on the front cover…

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