Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder (review)

No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money (Samuel Johnson)

'Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder' is the self-published anthology of 30 articles written by blogger Dave Barter. It covers a ten year period and a range of cycling activities during that time. I hope Barter can make some money out of this amusing and rewarding book. Apparently the Kindle version, which costs 77p to download, earns him 22p. The paperback retails for around ยฃ6.95 at the time of writing.

Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder

Piqued. I have the wrong type of cycling helmet ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

The book was an unexpected birthday present from Mrs B. I am convinced that she bought it thinking it would help to cure me from what she sees as my own obsession. It would hold a mirror up to my face and the scales would magically fall away from my eyes. "How could I have allowed myself to get so carried away with cycling?" maybe. It was supposed to be my holiday read, but I finished it before I even started packing: "I wish I had never bought you that b****y book!" (Actually, I'm not allowed to get involved with holiday packing – I'm not even allowed in the room where it takes place.)

If I have learned nothing else about myself after reading Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder it is that I have the wrong kind of headgear. It seems that I have been committing the road cyclist's faux pas of wearing a peak on my helmet. It hadn't occurred to me, but since reading this information I have noticed that there are very few roadies wearing mountain bike helmets. However, I don't think I will bother buying another one. I got mine with my Cycle to Work bike for two vital reasons:

1) it matched the colour of my bike
2) it was the only one in the shop big enough for my head

Each chapter of OCCD is preceded by an introduction to the content that has been published on Dave Barter's blog. These introductions allow Barter to reflect on each section, and they are often as funny as the chapters that follow. Should you buy this book? There is something for most cyclists to enjoy. Although I found the sections on mountain biking a little samey (a lot of talk about switchbacks, single tracks and thrutching) there is more than enough to compensate if mountain biking is not your thing. For me Barter is most successful when writing about a hill climb race, sportive rides in foreign countries and his single speed crack at the Yorkshire Dales Three Peaks cyclo-cross ride. (I couldn't even take offence at Barter's attempt to represent Yorkshire speech by respelling it phonetically – like bad Orwell and his go at Cockney dialect.) The author is planning a follow-up book. I am looking forward to reading it, but I do hope he makes use of a proof-reader. It is understandable that typos and other errors make their way in to a blog post written shortly after a particularly interesting ride, but there were a number of errors that crept in to the introductions as well (and Camelbak is referred to as 'Camelback' throughout).

If I don't have an Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder I do have at least one other: for English Homophones. I was reminded of this when I noticed the name of Dave Barter's website: phased.co.uk. I couldn't help wondering if he had meant to register the domain fazed.co.uk as a number of the mistakes in print are of the homophone variety (I will leave these until the end for those who share my own affliction).

There are no photographs in this book, but flashes of brilliance show when Barter paints a vivid image with a well-crafted turn of phrase and self-effacing writing style. This book is probably not for you if you are a tricyclist responsible for tourism in the Grimsby area and are easily offended by Anglo-Saxon expletives. For the rest of us it is well worth a look.

Obsessive Compulsive Homophone Confusion Spotting

The Post Office Research Centre had a decent compliment (complement) of runners... (p7)

...she kicked it's (its) arse... (p10)

L'Etape had a profound affect (effect) on me as a cyclist as well. (p20)

Before I knew it I was dragging myself out of bed, pealing (peeling) on tepid cycling gear... (p52)

... and flew it in a thunderstorm just to prove that lightening (lightning) was electricity. (p64)

Eight years later and I've finally put the word into practise (practice). (p74)

Shear (sheer) luck overcame frustration... (p109)

Peter, however, remained un-phased (unfazed). (p111)

And so on...


'Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder'. A must for every cyclist's book case?

Postscript: since this review was first written there has been a second release of the Kindle version with typographical errors apparently corrected – Chris, February 2013.

14 comments on “Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder (review)”

  1. Hilary wrote:

    Good review Chris and well timed as I was thinking about buying this myself. My other half is convinced that I suffer from 'Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder' and what's more I also suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Book Buying Disorder! I can feel an order from Amazon coming on!
    I didn't realise that I too have the 'wrong' helmet with a peak – in my case because it is the only one small enough to fit my head!

    Many books and magazines seem to suffer from poor or indeed non-existent proof reading and I do find it annoying and distracting. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only pedant about!

  2. Chris wrote:

    How dare your other half suggest you are obsessive about cycling? Surely there must be something on Roberta that isn't the right shade of blue?

    Yes, I reckon you will enjoy reading this book, Hilary. I've found a better more detailed review, but this too has been visited by the homophone fairies:

    My first impressions of reading the book where (were)

    Iโ€™m already obsessively pouring (poring) over maps in the Lake District...

    There are few aspects of cycling that havenโ€™t peaked (piqued) the authors interest

  3. Dave Barter wrote:

    Hi Chris, Thank you very much for taking the time to review the book and I am truly sorry about the typos that slipped through the net. I have two excuses:-

    1) I type these at 1000 mph after a ride and this will sound really odd but I don't like re-reading my articles. I just get caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment and if truth be told, I rush them out there for others to hopefully enjoy.

    2) I'm crap at English

    However, this was the MASSIVE learning point from publishing the book (and also why I kept the price so low). Next time round I will definitely try and employ a third party proof reader, but they don't come cheap as reading through hundreds of pages of drivel can take its toll. Luckily you didn't spot the biggest cock up of all..the first 100 copies sold had a missing chapter!

    But thank you, thank you for putting me next to Eric Arthur Blair, my absolute literary hero. I am definitely not worthy, I've always seen my place on the shelf above the toilet roll sandwiched between a couple of Reader's Digests.

  4. Patrick wrote:

    Obsessive Compulsive Homophone Confusion Spotting

    Me too, I must admit – can't help it. Chris, I think you might enjoy 'Eats Shoots & Leaves' by Lynne Truss.

    Dave Barter wrote: I rush them out there for others to hopefully enjoy.

    Absolutely quite right (my italics). Incidentally, according to my newspaper yesterday, happiness is also a disorder. Bring on the disorders!

  5. Mrs Bailey wrote:

    Mr Bailey has sat with a pencil, in true school teacher style circling errors. I'm suprised it doesn't say 'see me' somewhere! This book has combined Mr Bailey's two obsessions – the english language and cycling. Oh and Patrick he has at least 3 copies of that book

  6. Tim wrote:

    Coincidentally, Dave's book formed part of my holiday reading too. Perhaps my proof-reading career will never now take off as I simply enjoyed the read! Dave lives perhaps 20 miles away from me and I enjoyed his take on the local area, but I also appreciated the breadth of cycling adventures he has experienced – I nearly went for the Dunwich Dynamo this year simply after reading his account of 2011. And after attempting to write the odd article for Cycleseven, I am somewhat envious of his writing ablities.

  7. Mary wrote:

    Brilliant post Chris.

    Mrs B.... I must address this... 'Actually, I'm not allowed to get involved with holiday packing โ€“ I'm not even allowed in the room where it takes place.'

    Hummmm... packing obsession? ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Hilary wrote:

    Its just dawned on me that Dave Barter is the guy who wrote the article on Tommy Godwin's amazing annual mileage record.

  9. Patrick wrote:

    Yes, I've noticed the page about Tommy on Dave's website. The connection with "Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder" is just a coincidence! LOL

  10. Dave Barter wrote:

    Hilary. I am still working on a bok concerning the Year record. It is a long term project and I hope to publish it in 2013

  11. Dave Barter wrote:

    ..and still the typos persist ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Chris wrote:

    So has anyone else read Dave Barter's first book? A reviewer on amazon.co.uk just knocked the overall rating down from five to four-and-a-half stars by giving a one star review:

    Biffo wrote: Downloaded this for my Kindle Fire HD, all the cover and contents bits are there but when I go in to read the book, there's absolutely nothing there! The whole book is missing, apart from the bits mentioned above! What is going on Amazon? Would have been happy to provide a review of the book, only it's NOT THERE!

    Harsh ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  13. Patrick wrote:

    ...a one star review

    Yes, harsh – as he/she hasn't read the book!

  14. Hilary wrote:

    I thought it was a great book – I even e mailed Dave to tell him so.

Leave a comment

Add a Smiley Smiley »