Holy Spokes! Biking gets a bible by Rob Coppolilo


Dad said you can’t have the car this weekend.

That’s okay. You don’t have your license anyhow, but you had to ask. No, you rely on rides and your feet to get you where you need to be — although you’re saving now for a bike, but you’re not sure what kind you want.

Would a mountain bike be best? Or do you need something lightweight? Maybe you’re thinking retro or… well, cheap. Whatever you’re thinking, you’ll find all kinds of advice in “Holy Spokes: A Biking Bible for Everyone” by Rob Coppolillo.

So you need some wheels. You don’t want anything fancy; you just want a way to get around. Or maybe you want something you can use for stunts and tricks.

If you were your great-grandpa, you’d be out of luck because 130 years ago, when bicycles first became popular, they had weird wheels and no brakes. Some of them didn’t even steer. Still, bike racing was a hot event in the mid-1880s, when a 75-mile race took 10 hours.

Though you probably just want one (for now), there’s a bike for just about every kind of activity you want to do. If your trip also includes a bus or car, you might consider a folding bike. A mountain bike can take you through wilderness, so it’s great for camping. Touring bikes are made for long-distance, cargo bikes are made for hauling, and road bikes are made for speed. If you’re experienced, you could try a fixie. For a plain old bike, though, you’ll want a townie.

No matter what kind of bicycle you need, the important thing is to make sure it fits by ensuring that everything is the correct height for you. Measure, be sure your foot position feels good, and get the right kind of seat, or you’ll be very sorry.

But you’re not ready to ride yet. First, get a helmet that fits your noggin, good lights and a bike lock or cable to protect your investment. Find a good bicycle repair kit — one you can take with you — and practice some bike maintenance, including how to fix a flat. Finally, know the laws in your area and then hit the road!

So your teen has a feeling for wheeling. You want to be sure he’s safe on the road, and “Holy Spokes” can help.

Himself the owner of several bikes, Coppolillo gives kids a top-down overview of bicycles, from history to maintenance to how to use them in school, work, racing, being “green” and keeping healthy. From experts and athletes, readers will learn how to pick the right bike and how to measure to be sure it’s a good fit, as well as how to race and ride safely. That’s good info to have.

I’d like to say this is a book for pre-teens but, because of one cautionary uncomfortable-seat story, I think it’s more appropriate for kids 13 or older. If that’s you or your new bicyclist, then “Holy Spokes” will be wheely helpful.

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of children’s books weekly.