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Book review: The new issue of Boneshaker cycling almanac

Posted by Joe Biel on December 30th, 2009 at 1:03 pm

In the world of print, most bicycle-themed publications are novice-level — they tell you how to fix your bike or guide you through gaining skills and confidence to ride in traffic. Then there's the other end of the spectrum — the ivory tower of transportation theory.

That's why I have to bless Boneshaker's scrappy heart and 104 information-packed pages for filling the much needed void between these two genres.

This small volume communicates on a level for those who just want to ride their bikes and then talk about it afterwards. It fully lives up to its subtitle, "A Bicycling Almanac."

Russ (a Portlander) has an advice column for behaving in traffic, offering fairly advanced scenarios for operating in urban traffic appropriately. Like many entries, this column speaks to readers who feel that they are representing an entire cycling culture and want to know how to do so with the best etiquette and aplomb.

In one article, Denver activists tackle the recent enforcement of cycling laws by working with the police department to distribute informational spoke cards and policing their own numbers.

Other gems include:
- an interview with Pedaling Revolution author Jeff Mapes
- plenty of bike porn (read: photos of a penny farthing in the snow, a review of David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries, etc)
- a smattering of cycling poems
- some unearthed reprints
- a new translation of a French essay from 1938
- a bit of youthful nostalgia
- ample declarations of joy, independence, and community

Boneshaker occupies a long unfilled niche by offering something relevant to the multitudes of hungry cyclists who don't need to read another Lance Armstrong biography and want a nice little pocket-sized zine that they can read at the coffeeshop down the street.


Boneshaker is edited by Portland-based Evan Schneider, and published by the nonprofit Wolverine Farm Publishing, and can be found on sale for six dollars at one of Portland's finer reading or bicycling establishments, including Reading Frenzy, Black Star Bags, or Microcosm; or support BikePortland by buying your copy via our partnership with Powell's.

Also check out our review of Boneshaker III from this summer.

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Comments
  • Mike December 31, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Great stuff. Found them at City Lights about a year ago here in San Francisco. I read it cover to cover and went right online and signed up for the next several issues. Also had the pleasure of meeting them when Tour de Fat rolled through town.

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  • kelly December 31, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    byrne is on the porn trip too?how so?

    maybe i will have to buy it!

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