He writes about his quest to build that bike in a new book, It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels. \"I should qualify that,\" Penn tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. \"It's my perfect bike. I wouldn't presume to imagine that it's anyone else's, and in fact I rather hope it isn't.\"
Proving why cyclists have the biggest hearts, the bestselling book that captured the cycling zeitgeist comes to paperback to pick up many more ridersThe bicycle is one of mankind's greatest inventions - and the most popular form of transport in history. Robert Penn has ridden one most days of his adult life. In his late 20s, he pedalled 40,000 kilometres around the world. Yet, like cyclists everywhere, the utilitarian bikes he currently owns don't even hint at this devotion. Robert needs a new bike, a bespoke machine that reflects how he feels when he's riding it - like an ordinary man touching the gods.It's All About the Bike is the story of a journey to design and build a dream bike. En route, Robert explores the culture, science and history of the bicycle. From Stoke-on-Trent, where an artisan hand builds his frame, to California, home of the mountain bike, where Robert tracks down the perfect wheels, via Portland, Milan and Coventry, birthplace of the modern bicycle, this is the narrative of our love affair with cycling. It's a tale of perfect components - parts that set the standard in reliability, craftsmanship and beauty. It tells how the bicycle has changed the course of human history, from the invention of the 'people's nag' to its role in the emancipation of women, and from the engineering marvel of the tangent-spoked wheel to the enduring allure of the Tour de France. It's the story of why we ride, and why this simple machine remains central to life today.
Gem of a book * Economist *Penn writes with a Bill-Brysonesque facility for concentrating a lot of information and research into an easy-to-read ... Best of all ... his account enriches your enjoyment of a ride -- Tim Dawson, Cycle Guy * Sunday Times *Fantastic ... Well worth a read if, like me, you love cycling! -- Paul SmithArtfully, Penn turns his quest for hardware ... into a worldwide spin around cycling and its culture -- William Fotheringham * Guardian *The pages overflow with pioneers, mavericks and geniuses - certainly, it is hard to imagine anyone who reads this book being able to buy a bike \"off the peg\" again -- Tim Lewis * Observer *I've just spent a week pedalling slowly from Windermere to Aviemore with a copy of Penn's zealous eulogy in my pannier. His infectious admiration for the exhilarating sociability of cycling, coupled with reverence for quality craftsmanship, made highly engaging company ... appreciate the wit and enthusiasm of this unusual odyssey -- James Urquhart * Independent *Penn tells us that the bicycle, as we know it, was invented in 1885 and is the most efficient form of transport ever devised... A joyful book -- William Leith * The Scotsman *Bike-lit is booming, and while 'cross-country hardtail' might not have the same ring to it as 'penny-farthing', there's evidently little to do with cycling about which Robert Penn can't wax lyrical. Whether his subject is spokes or saddle sores, he is relentlessly enthusiastic... Penn's amiability is puncture-proof -- Stephanie Cross * Daily Mail *[H]is adrenalin-charged enthusiasm... delivers a good ride... The social history is snappy and his almost religious quest for ultimate craftsmanship full of wit. -- James Urquhart * Financial Times *
Robert Penn's It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels is a paean to the humble bike; it's the story of why we ride, and why this simple machine holds the power to transport us all. Robert Penn has ridden a bike most days of his life. He rides to get to work, to bathe in air and sunshine, to stay sane and to feel free. This is the story of his love affair with cycling and the journey to build his dream bike; a freewheeling pilgrimage taking him from Californian mountain bike inventors to British artisan frame builders, and from perfect components to the path of true happiness. 'A gem of a book ... a joy' Economist 'Infectious, exhilarating, highly engaging' Independent 'Be swept along by Penn's enthusiasm, humour and refreshing candour' Sunday Telegraph 'Enriches your enjoyment of a ride' Sunday Times 'As a depiction of a world you might vote for, Penn's does not sound bad at all' Observer Robert Penn writes for the Financial Times, Observer and Condé Nast Traveller, as well as a host of cycling publications. He is the author of The Wrong Kind of Snow. Robert lives in the Black Mountains, South Wales with his wife and three children and commutes to work across a heather moor on a mountain bike. 1e1e36bf2d