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 £6.95 at the time of writing.
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...
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.