Tag Archives: cycling

Pedal Power

15 Nov

My eyes nearly bugged out of my head one day last summer, as I drove past the  Joan of Arc roundabout at Northeast 39th Avenue and Glisan Street. It was full of naked cyclists! Portland is a great place to bicycle and get naked.

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All the people in the photos in Pedal It! How Bicycles are Changing the World by Michelle Mulder are clothed.

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The book provides a survey of the bicycle: a cultural history, a course in mechanics, a bit of a physics and economic class and a springboard for innovation. In a  highly engaging tone, Muller proceeds roughly chronologically, and occasionally goes off on an interesting  tangent in colorful boxed asides. She twines the mechanics of bicycles with cultural phenomenon, the environmental benefits of cycling and even the change in women’s fashions. This book is way more fun than cycling naked!

Resistance is NOT futile!

20 May

I make no secret that I like to read books about young people during the Second World War. I have openly stated that my favorite book last year ( and maybe one of my tops ever) was Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  I’ve written about the The Montmaray Journals series by Michelle Cooper, which I highly recommend. Having lived in Denmark in the 80’s, where memories of occupation were still strong, I loved Number the Stars  by Lois Lowry and  The Boys of St. Petri by Bjarne B. Reuter. And I recommended The Berlin Boxing Club  by Rob Sharenow which is a 2014 ORCA nominee.  But most of the books about WWII are set in England, France, Denmark and Germany.

So it was refreshing to pick up Hero ona Bicycle by Shirley Hughes, which is set in Florence,  just  as the Allies are working their way up the boot of Italy.

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The main character, Paolo, loves riding his bike at night when he feels free from constraints of Nazi Occupation and being a 13-year-old boy surrounded by girls and women. On one of his nightly forays into the Italian countryside, Paolo encounters the partisans and becomes involved with them. The book does a great job helping readers understand the dangers of resistance work and its impact on family members. Although the language might be challenging for 4th & 5th graders, I think they would really enjoy the story. And I hope you do too.

Another stroll down memory lane

30 Apr

Bicycles never go away in Portland, which has a healthy, and sometimes weird, cycling community. In many places, though, bikes come out in Spring, as did Chris Raschka’s new book  Everyone can Learn to Ride a Bicycle.

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I had more than my share of trouble learning to ride a bike. My twin sister took to a two-wheeler like a duck to water. Not I.  My dad did not believe in training wheels so many an evening, after dinner, he and my brother (look Brian, you are in 2 blogs in a row!) would take me out to my brand new blue CCM.

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They’d hold it while I’d climb on. They’d run behind me and let me go. I’d wobble for a while then fall down. It felt as though I lived with stones in my palms. If only I had this book to inspire me.

Raschka’s “how to”  text is simple and straightforward. He doesn’t really walk you through the mechanics of learning to ride, but instills confidence. He even teaches you to get back on if you fall off. The lively watercolors capture the momentum of the experience.

I finally decided enough was enough. I was tired of running behind my sister & friends who were riding. One day I got my bike and decided I MUST do it. And I did. Apparently, I had to learn to bicycle standing up. It was weeks before I could sit & pedal, but I discovered what Chris Raschka says, “by luck, grace, and determination, you are riding a bicycle”. And I never forgot how.

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