We got our hands on some digital pre release copies of “Ride” a new collection of short stories (not to be confused with British publication “Ride Journal”). Below are our collective thoughts on the Kindle and iPad versions.
I have to say that I was pretty stoked when I was asked to review the book Ride: Short Fiction about Bicycles. As a crazed bike fanatic, and a guy who enjoys short stories as opposed to a full out novel… this book sounded like something that would suit me just fine, and I was very interested in reading it.
As you can likely make out from the title, this book is composed of a bunch of short fiction stories about riding a bike. There are nine stories to be exact. Each of the stories are as different from one another as the people who wrote them, but there is a nice flow that transcends through the entire book making it a seamless journey from start to finish. I think that flow comes from the fact that each of the contributors to the book are crazed bike fanatics themselves, and their love for the bike comes shining through in each captivating story.
It’s hard to cut out one story and praise it as being the best because each of them have their special ingredients making them enjoyable and unique in their own little way. With that said, I would like to mention that one story in particular stayed with me after finishing the book. I’ve seen a few other reviews of this book, and I know I’m not alone in saying that “Red Dot” by Barbara Jay Wilson lays out a story that is sure to put a smile on your face. I’m only guessing, but I’m pretty sure that Barbara Jay Wilson is a person who spends a lot of time out there on her bike connecting with the beauty and nature that surrounds her.
Adding to these wonderful nine stories are some incredible illustrations by Taliah Lempert… so if you’re more into visuals than you are reading, this book has got you covered there as well. On top of it all, the asking price is pretty decent as well. What are you waiting for? Grab a copy and increase your bicycle fanaticism.
App Usability: 4/5
As Described: 4.5/5
I have never reviewed a book before. But I certainly have read a great number of them. I know what I like and don’t like in a good read. I love everything about cycling, though admit I will never be “good” at it. So when the editor at Cycling Short. asked me to read a pre-publication e-book entitled “RIDE” I jumped at the chance.
The book came to me via a tidy e.pub formate, but I suddenly found myself swamped with prior commitments, so I asked my husband to give it a read. Now he is an avid cyclist! And having ridden lots: Barcelona to San Sebastian, Geneva to the Stelvio, and many Classic sportives in-between I figured it would be great to get his take too.
Not half an hour into his read, he calls out to me. Have you read this first short story, “it is demented. It’s great. it’s real. But it’s totally weird. You should read it, and see what you think” Well, no I hadn’t read it yet, and I can’t say this was a common occurrence, as we generally don’t read the same books, but being a short story I dropped my work and picked up the e-reader.
And I read. It was an interesting story, a guy who wants to ride in great places around town, but needs to get behind the gated community fence to do it. He sails down the hills, he climbs with the beautiful metaphor only a well practiced cycinst and writer could combine. But from there it was exactly as Randy said it was. It was weird it was dark, it could so easily happen. Just like Steven King’s Misery, you know it can’t end well, but you keep reading. And remembering………
There are 9 short stories in the book. Some are about cycling and others in which the bike is the main character. Most are gritty, a couple are a bit cliché, but Bob’s Bike Shop a story mid-stream in the book is a very touching story that brought to mind the feel and devotion to cycling and bikes that was so well represented in the movie “Breaking Away”.
Overall, it was a good read. More about bikes than cycling in a few stories, more about people with bikes than the epic cycle or grand tour. I didn’t know what to expect, but I’d have to say I enjoyed reading most of the stories, but the flow of stories was a bit uneven. A couple I loved, a couple I just didn’t get. And one I think will definitely stick with me for a while.
App Usability: 5/5
As Described: 3/5
I love the introduction to the book by author and editor Keith Snyder…
“Love or money.
Those are the two good reasons to bring a book into existence.
Either you think it’s going to pay the rent, or you want to read it but nobody’s written it yet.
This book will not pay the rent.
Not while reading.”
It pretty much sums up the experience, it’s fresh and different from other cycling books. I have to say I’m new to “cycling fiction” but it approaches the subject from many different angles and writing styles, cycling being the common thread in the stories, or to be more precise bicycles. It’s a pick and mix which makes it great to dip into for a quick escapist bike fix, lovely illustrations throughout by Taliah Lempert. I would agree with Cristi that the flow is a bit bumpy but probably unavoidable. I found a couple of the stories a little odd and not my cup of tea, but I don’t think you can expect to like everything you read in a book that has a collection of authors and styles. The book gives you a short introduction about each of the authors and links to their own websites before their story, each entry is illustrated with one of Taliah’s paintings. The iPad app (which is the pre release version I read) is very easy to navigate allowing you to add notes, skip through chapters (as you’d expect). The layout suits an iBook app it looks fresh and it’s cleanly designed, often publishers overcomplicate the layout because they know they can make a book do anything in digital form. The publisher of this book has been more restrained and it makes it pleasant to flick through. For those who aren’t big readers of fiction, give this a go, you only need a few minutes to read some of the shorter stories and it’s peppered with illustrations to keep your eyes entertained too. The writing style is very American as are some of the storylines but it doesn’t exclude international readers. I enjoyed the variety of storytelling styles.
….I do hope it in some part helps to pay the rent for the authors, a labour of love that keeps a roof over your head is a rare but wonderful thing!
This book brings the passion of writing and cycling together in a beautifully illustrated publication. Worth a read and a great price.
App Usability: 5/5
As Described: 3/5
Ride – Short Fiction About Bicycles
Authors: Keith Snyder, Paul Guyot, Simon Woods, Stephen D. Rogers, Teresa Peipins, Christopher Ryan, Kent Peterson, Barbara Jaye Wilson, David A.V. Elver
Illustration by: Taliah Lempert
Purchase now from:
Barnes & Noble Nook edition: $3.99
From iTunes for iBook: £1.99 / $3.99
What the Author/Editor says about the book:
In this collection of short stories about bicycles, a grocery store worker finds more than he bargained for when he wangles his way into a gated community with a perfect hill for climbing…an ancient Constantinoplean invents a two-wheeled contraption to impress a girl…a bicycle reflects on its life while chained outside in New York City…an eerie rider exacts gruesome revenge on automobile drivers…
These and more in eight stories of gears, pedals, and the need to RIDE.
Submissions are now open for the next volume of Ride. If you fancy testing your writing skills and submitting a short story yourself please visit the Ride Bike Fiction website for contact details…. Who knows, we could be reviewing your work very soon!
For more information please visit the Ride Bike Fiction Website here.
TZ-3 Super Bright Flexible LED
I’ve opted for the Red rear LED Light. The LED light is a great addition to your high-vis set up. This little light has a recessed button so you can’t accidentally switch it on by dropping it or resting something on it, it has a large button that is easy to use with gloved or cold fingers. It comes housed in a solid body with a stretchy flexible silicone mount loop. Press the on off button once and you get a solid light, press it again and it will flash intermittently (don’t use in flashing mode if on a bicycle or motorbike), press once again and it switches off… simple. There are two small recessed screws on the underside of the body to allow you to replace the battery (CR2025) which the manufacturer says should last you 100 hours.
I’ve tried the light on my bike frame and handlebars and because the light has a shaped underbelly it sits comfortably on flat or curved surfaces and with the silicone stretch loop it won’t slip or move against metal, handlebar tape, carbon fibre or painted surfaces and fabric. The loop can be pulled up and fully over itself depending on the diameter of the item you’re wrapping it around, you can put the strap over the front of the light body or further back over the casing and it doesn’t press or restrict access to the button. It’s coped fine with the scrapes and drops it’s had so far. It really is ideal to attach to your helmet, it neatly slots through the helmet vents and is a real upgrade to just using a reflector, because it’s so lightweight you don’t notice it’s there. I’ve also attached it to bags and backpacks and it works a treat. When you pair it with the Verso High-Vis Gilet by TwoZero (read our review here) it sits neatly on your back just above your shoulder blades and when you have a backpack under your gilet it sits up and faces behind you without being obscured by your backpack, it takes over from your helmet reflectors if they become hidden behind the bulk of your bag. It comes in a choice of white or red LED light and both provide a strong bright light. A great addition to you cycling safety gear, it’s small, lightweight, flexible and it fits neatly into a pocket when it’s not in use.
Colour: Red LED or White LED
RRP £9.99 with free UK delivery
Available from: www.two-zero.co.uk for delivery worldwide
also available from other online and high street retailers
What TwoZero say about their product:
Easy fit silicone loop LED
Flashing or Solid State
Long Battery Life 100hrs (replaceable)
red and white LED version
easy to attach to TZ bags, Verso Gilet and rucksacks
It’s time to pull out the high vis winter cycling gear for the commute so we thought we’d take a look at a couple of products, these two items caught our eye as they work together or individually, the Verso High-Vis Gilet and the TZ-3 Super Bright LED Light (read LED review here). They’re a new addition to TwoZero’s range, the award winning company is already known for it’s range of cycling and motorcycling bags. I own one of the cycling bags which I’m mightily impressed with so I thought we’d try some of their other products. I enrolled the help of my hardcore commuter cycling pal to road test them.
Verso High-Vis Expandable & Reflecting Cycling Gilet
I’ve chosen the black gilet in size S/M, even the style conscious cyclist wants to be visible but not in your face and to be honest I can’t quite pull off the 1980’s neon rave look, maybe back in the day but not now… and to be honest the black doesn’t look too much like a high visibility jacket when you’re off the bike in daylight.
First impressions upon unpacking it… looks well made, lightweight, quality stitching and fabric, with good finishing, piped edges in both normal and stretch fabrics. It has a slight tailored shape to it, it’s not just a box shape, it also has stretchy lycra side panels these stretch a further 3cms on each side. The bottom edge of the gilet is elasticated to stop it flapping around. The yellow version has black stretch fabric vents with reflectors and black stretch side panels. It will pack away into the sort of space a pair of below the knee socks would take up…. no idea why I used that comparison but it’s what sprung to mind, so I’m going with it!
The full length zip down the front has a fabric pull loop for when gloved or cold fingers can’t quite manage fiddly fastenings. The high vis panels on the gilet are well designed, there are two soft reflector fabric stripes across the front and back of the shoulders, below that on the front and back of the gilet there’s a bonded or possibly screen printed abstract triangular design in reflecting flexible ink, it’s very well applied and I’ve not seen any signs of wear yet, it doesn’t look like it will flake off over time as I’ve found with similar products, I’ve had a good old pick at the edges of the ink and it’s tough. The collar edge isn’t rough against your skin unlike other high-vis wear I’ve purchased in the past, once out in the cold damp night air you often find collars chafe but the piped edging stops this.
Click on the images above to view them in detail.
The back of the gilet scoops down over your rear like a regular cycling jersey but the main feature which makes it perfect for commuting by bike is the ability to unzip the two concealed back vents, these vents are also elasticated and covered in even more reflectors, they allow you to put the gilet over a backpack, this means you don’t have to trundle around town during the day with a particularly neon or reflector spattered bag just to be prepared for your dark journeys to and from the office or trip into town. The vents really do give plenty of room and because it’s stretchy you don’t find it rides up as you move, nor does it flap around behind you like a cape in bad weather even with a bag underneath. The extra reflectors in the vents do also mean you’re more visible side on at junction as the reflectors continue all around you.
If you put your hand behind the none elasticated areas you can see through it, it’s certainly breathable something that generally is a problem with high-vis winter products, they tend to be a bit industrial, bulky and make you look like you’ve walked off a building site. The Verso is designed to be worn over your winter clothing it’s only to provide you with visibility with the option of putting your bag underneath. It allows you a full range of movement thanks to the lycra side panels. It’s also easy to wash but I’ve found running it under the tap and wiping and mud spatters off is just as easy and quicker than using the washing machine, because it’s such a fine fabric leave it to dry overnight and it’s ready for your next commute.
Verso & light Combination:
On the back of the gilet there is a loop just below the shoulder reflector stripes, this is for you to attach the other product in the TwoZero range, the Super Bright Flexible LED Light, you loop it through and back over itself and then set it to the desired mode. If you don’t have the Super Bright you could use other lights and reflectors but the way the light is designed combined with the position of the loop means the light sits perfectly. Read the full TZ-3 Super Bright LED review here.
I’m my opinion the Verso Gilet is perfect for commuters and with a choice of colours (hopefully more colours and designs will be added to the range) there’s a limit to what you can do with high vis, it can never be minimal because that would make it pointless. It’s certainly been designed with cyclists and motorcyclists in mind but if you run with a rucksack (if you’re mad enough) then it would work for you too.
From a safety point of view the side reflectors in the vents when expanded do really give you a better profile when pulling out of a junction. The Verso Gilet is endorsed by IAM (institute of Advanced Motorists).
It’s in the mid to high end price bracket of the market but it’s certainly better made and better quality than others I’ve seen and it has the added zipped vents to allow a backpack which I’ve struggled to find on other products, it also has the ability to add the LED light for extra visibility, it’s well worth the money.
Available in black or yellow
Sizes: S/M or L/XL
RRP £34.99 with free UK delivery
Available from: www.two-zero.co.uk for delivery worldwide
also available from other online and highstreet retailers
What TwoZero say about their product:
Dual purpose expandable high visibility vest
integrated rucksack cover
unique expanding back will unzip to fit over your backpack
stylish high visibility graphics for increased safety
tailored to hug the body
elasticated panels for comfort
lightweight fabric allowing your skin to breath
back panel loop to attach TwoZero LED flasher (sold separately)