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Animators Survival Kit

It's not about the book

7th June 2011 - Tobias Revell

Yes, I work in a bookshop and write for our blog, but books are not my number one love as far as inanimate objects go, and I can't live the lie any longer. I could wheel out the old bit about 'curling up with a good book' as my favourite activity but it would be a big, fat, dirty lie. Books are just in the top five somewhere. For, you see, my number one love is bicycles.

Image of bike-related books and bicycle in window display at FoylesI have three at the moment and probably just as many in disembodied pieces scattered around my house amongst boxes and in piles of flashing chrome and oily steel. If you have a bike and you're near me, I'm only staring because I'm mentally undressing it. If my eyes have glazed over then just give me a minute alone with it. Every time I go past a bike shop the world recedes into a blur as I fall in love a thousand times again with gleaming anodised hubs, aero seatposts, gumwall tires, jockey wheels, bladed spokes, box rims and track drops.

I find absolute pleasure in cleaning and regreasing chains, perfecting wheel alignment and tightening bottom brackets. Just the other day, a friend asked me to come with him to a beginners polo session. Immediately, I dashed downstairs and banged about piecing together an armoured monstrosity built for the polo court using parts that were taking up space that a normal person might put things like cutlery in.

Any time I have the slightest, most meagre slice of disposable income I'll be eyeing up new grip tape, or imported frames. The cycle to the bike shop, with wallet in pocket is of course the most pleasurable cycle of the month, which makes the last Saturday of June, July, August and September pretty much holy days. I probably spend an hour or two a day on bike blogs and talking to bikey friends about bike stuff. Yesterday, I helped three separate friends with bike-related problems. I ride maybe 20 miles a day minimum and if it's pleasant, like at the moment, I take intentional detours to extend the amount of precious time my rides and I get in each other's company.

I talk to them too. A lot. More than my girlfriend thinks I should - but, then again, I talk to cups and cash machines and bits of paper as well. However, only my bicycles talk back to me. They tell me if they're upset with little groans, and squeak when they're in pain. They rattle and clink when they need a rest, and fall to pieces, dripping oil all over the living room carpet with a big splurgakakakat when they're depressed. When they're happy, they purr - and it's beautiful. They purr like a basket full of tiger kittens.

Anyway sometimes my worlds collide in a rather useful way, so here are some great books about bikes which are very good, and cheaper than bicycles too.


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