WHEN Richard Ballantine wrote his best-selling guide to bicycling back in 1972, bikes were heavy. Simple geared contraptions viewed mainly as a hip alternative to environmentally unfriendly auto travel.
They’ve come a long way since then, and Ballantine’s updated work, Richard’s 21st-Century Bicycle Book, provides an ideal link between the groovy spirit of the ‘70s and the technological and cultural revolution that has since overtaken the cycling world. Beginner or intermediate riders will find a clearly written, informative guide to choosing, buying, riding and maintaining a bike (including information on mountain bikes and the latest gear). A psychologically savvy chapter on dealing with dangerous auto drivers in urban traffic is especially compelling. But the best thing about this book is its level of enthusiasm for the sport, which some of you may riot have felt since you pedaled across the playground with baseball cards in your spokes. Available from Overlook Press ($18.95; www.overlook-press.com).