Professional bike racing has never lent itself to deep thinkers. Winning is a cruel and ruthless business where the best are taught to keep their head down, arse-up, and brain in neutral. So it's fair to say that James Hibbard was an exception, and that The Art of Cycling is an exceptional read
When you "draft" in cycling, you tuck yourself behind a lead rider and let him or her take the wind and pull you along. In Hibbard's book, you get to draft along on this incredibly beautiful, meditation of going from here to there at high speed. Drafting can be dangerous if the lead rider is unsteady, but Hibbard proves a reliable guide. The Art of Cycling is worth the ride.
Cycling is only the top layer of Hibbard's multilayer work of visceral philosophy, a work that draws on insights from Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, T.S. Eliot, Dostoevsky, and many others. From the pains and strains of athletic pursuits to the hyper-competitive mire of academia, Hibbard shows how all the detours and dead-ends in life, can lift us into an inexpressible intimacy with existence, where mind, body, and world shed their painful separateness.
Cycling is an extended form of thinking and The Art of Cycling is a dazzling trip on both counts. Taking a racing line between Descartes and Nietzsche, Moser and Merckx, The Art of Cycling dismantles what it means to be a cyclist and puts it together again in thought-provoking ways-and, like a Zen master or cyclist in the mountains, achieves moments of transcendence.
Part memoir, part reflection on the sport of cycling, and part philosophical insight into life, this is a fascinating book. The Art of Cycling will appeal to anyone who rides a bike, seeks insight to a bike racer's mind-set, and wants to know how the thinking of philosophers can influence our daily lives.