Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book review: Dr. Wally's Field Guide to Cyclists

This is the January edition of my monthly column in the Red Dirt Pedalers "Wheel Issues."

Book review: Dr. Wally's Field Guide to Cyclists
First Edition. University of Northeastern Oklahoma, Broken Elbow Extension Campus. 2009

I'm not fond of doing book reviews. Inevitably, someone takes me to task when the review disagrees with their own assessment. However, when you consider the 'publish or perish' philosophy of most universities, you may understand the pressure many academics are under.

And that brings us to Dr. Walter Crankset's field guide. Profusely illustrated by the author, this field guide attempts to identify cyclists as belonging to particular sub-sets, none of them immune from satire. Crankset pokes fun at us, urging that we step outside our narrowly defined bicycling preoccupations and get a few laughs at our own expense.

Here are some excerpts:

Curbus Stucktus Often called the common gutter bunny, a curbus is rarely found more than a foot or two from the curb. In club meetings and on message boards, they complain incessantly about all the flat tires they've had. Wiser, more experienced cyclists will adopt the muskrat strategy and gnaw off a limb to escape from them.

Ineducatus Publicus One of the louder species, the ineducatus publicus appears at public meetings demanding 'something be done.' That something is always impossible, outrageous, or both. For example, an ineducatus will say, "I'll ride my bike when there's an entirely separate trail system from my front door to the grocery store, without having to cross a street at grade level!" This would require a re-invention of our existing road network. The ineducatus is just barely smart enough to breed, but they do so in great numbers.

Whine-a-saurus Mobilus “You can't get there from here because there aren't any bike lanes,” they chant in unison. Stress forces their voices to a shrill, nasal pitch, and if any additional stress were added, only dogs could hear them. This would be a good thing. On club rides, the whine-a-saurus is best kept at the back of the group where his screams will go unnoticed in the event of a dog attack. This gives new meaning to "devil take the hindmost."

Automobilus Addendus. The automobilus invariably begins with, "I'm a bicyclist too, but..." and then goes on to give 'advice' regarding how or where cyclists should ride. The automobilus hasn't been on a bike since grade school, of course, yet he doesn't hesitate to recommend things that are illegal, impractical, or plainly stupid. He means well, but like the ineducatus, he doesn't allow lack of knowledge or genuine facts get in the way.

Dr. Wally's Field Guide to Cyclists is available at better booksellers everywhere. Dr. Crankset will be available for a book signing at the Sinclair station outside the West Neanderthal Mall on January 5th, 2010.

(Susan, Wally said that if we run this, he'll cover our bar tab down at Larry's Cafe for the next month! Yee haw! Party time!)



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