Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sad News

Tom Cuthbertson, author of Anybody's Bike Book, Bike Tripping and many other works, died of pancreatic cancer on October 9, at his home in Santa Cruz, CA.

This obituary gives the details of his life.

In the article in the December issue of Bicycle Retailer, announcing his death, a bike industry figure named Jim Langley said, "To a generation of cyclists, [Anybody's Bike Book] unlocked the mysteries of the ten-speed..." That was certainly true for me. It made the inner workings of the bike accessible and understandable.

Cuthbertson was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, serving in a hospital rather than going overseas to fight. This gentle, moral expresssion of what was good about what came to be known as the Counterculture came through in his writing about cycling. To me it added a great deal to cycling's merit. It made cycling a much more positive force than a mere fitness activity or avenue to competitive glory.

On a quick search I could not find a picture of the original cover of the book, but here's a link to the revised edition, still available.

Cuthbertson rode because he loved to ride. According to articles about him, when he went for a bike ride it could be two hours or ten, and he thoroughly explored the back roads around his area. He also advocated bike commuting. But the tone of his writing was not excessively technical. He was a great voice for the "ten speed boom" before the avalanche of technophilia buried simple cycling under posh materials and scientific training schedules. When he said "Anybody" he meant anybody.

Go ride.

No comments: