For young adventurers of the 70s, Richard’s Bicycle Book was a revelation. It is the human-powered (and much more readable) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The book, written by Richard Ballantine, gave you the courage to take apart a derailleur, and the exploded diagrams told you how to fit all the parts together again. It is a handbook to quality of life. Nuggets of enchanting bike lore complement nitty-gritty, oily sprocket talk. It’s a brilliantly weighted mix of fervour and common sense.
Richard was a kind and irrepressible writer, who wrote as if he knew every reader was an expert in waiting. To teenagers and tyro adventurers, RBB – as it became known – was mechanical poetry. Much later, I wrote for his magazines and he was a loyal and wildly enthusiastic supporter of my various bicycle missions to extreme locations. But he was always the bike guru. Nobody has done more than Richard did to bring back the bicycle.
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