Need for the Bike

Need for the Bike

by Paul Fournel
     
 

A book like no other, Paul Fournel’s Need for the Bike conducts readers into a very personal world of communication and connection whose center is the bicycle, and where all people and things pass by way of the bike. In compact and suggestive prose, Fournel conveys the experience of cycling—from the initial charm of early outings to the dramas

Overview


A book like no other, Paul Fournel’s Need for the Bike conducts readers into a very personal world of communication and connection whose center is the bicycle, and where all people and things pass by way of the bike. In compact and suggestive prose, Fournel conveys the experience of cycling—from the initial charm of early outings to the dramas of the devoted cyclist.
 
An extended meditation on cycling as a practice of life, the book recalls a country doctor who will not anesthetize the young Fournel after he impales himself on a downtube shifter, speculates about the difference between animals that would like to ride bikes (dogs, for instance) and those that would prefer to watch (cows, marmots), and reflects on the fundamental absurdity of turning over the pedals mile after excruciating mile. At the same time, Fournel captures the sound, smell, feel, and language of the reality and history of cycling, in the mountains, in the city, escaping the city, in groups, alone, suffering, exhausted, exhilarated.
 
In his attention to the pleasures of cycling, to the specific “grain” of different cycling experiences, and to the inscription of these experiences in the body’s cycling memory, Fournel portrays cycling as a descriptive universe, colorful, lyrical, inclusive, exclusive, complete.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The Ultimate Ride is a training manual written by a world-famous cycling coach, while Need for the Bike is a literary love letter to cycling written by a cultural attach /avant-garde writer. Despite their differences, the books beg to be read together: the first offers a comprehensive guide to better riding, the second reminds you of why you choose to ride at all. An Olympic coach and trainer best known for his work with Lance Armstrong, Carmichael shares his expertise with a comprehensive look at the Carmichael Training System (CTS). He offers helpful information on goal setting and nutrition but also includes more technical discussions of training, pathomechanics, and data collection aimed at serious cyclists and trainers. Each element of CTS gets ample discussion offering specifics like intensity, volume, and frequency, and Carmichael does a good job of explaining the rationale behind each strategy. This title will have broad appeal to anyone who wants to "ride like Lance." On the other hand, Fournel's Need for the Bike will appeal not only to serious cyclists but also to aspiring cyclists and anyone who appreciates well-written reminiscences. Fournel, the cultural attach at the French Embassy in Cairo and member of the avant-garde writers' group Oulipo, shows his love of language and cycling in this book of vignettes organized around five broad categories: "The Violent Bike," "Bike Envy," "Need for Air," "Pedaling Within," and "Spinning Circles." Whether he is discussing run-ins with car doors or the childlike wonder of a first bike, Forunel writes with an attention to detail and image that elevates and connects. Both titles are recommended for public libraries and sports/fitness collections.-Mari Flynn, Keystone Coll., La Plume, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Cycling Weekly

“To review this hugely rewarding book is to attempt the impossible. So I urge you to buy it and discover for yourself how French author Paul Fournel has expressed so beautifully and with such humour what many of us struggle to articulate when attempting to explain our love of cycling. The title, Need for the Bike, is so apt.”—Cycling Weekly

ForeWord

"A fascinating mix of bicycling memories, observations, and experiences the author has gathered during a lifetime of cycling. . . . This very personal book, doled in short, easily digestible doses, packs a meal that ultimately satisfies deeply."—ForeWord
Bicycling

"Few sportswriters fancy themselves members of the literary avant-garde, but Frenchman Paul Fournel is the real deal. In his carefully cadenced prose poem Need for the Bike, translated by Allan Stoekl, he shares a passion for the sport matched only by his love of language."—Bicycling

Bicycling Magazine Editors

"Few sportswriters fancy themselves members of the literary avant-garde, but Frenchman Paul Fournel is the real deal. In his carefully cadenced prose poem Need for the Bike, translated by Allan Stoekl, he shares a passion for the sport matched only by his love of language."—Bicycling

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803269095
Publisher:
UNP - Bison Books
Publication date:
09/01/2003
Pages:
150
Sales rank:
1,117,714
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.00(h) x 5.25(d)

Read an Excerpt

Need for the Bike


By Paul Fournel

University of Nebraska Press

Copyright © 2003 University of Nebraska Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0803269099


Chapter One

I remember the dog very well. It was a yellow dog, a boxer. I remember I was the last to see him alive because I was the one who hit him.

At the same moment, I felt my front wheel give way and my handlebars twist against my left arm. I felt the breeze from the peloton, opening up and yelling all around me, and then I woke up, sitting on the Longchamp sidewalk, trying to scratch my phone number in the sand, in case I passed out again.

There was the first hospital, where they found my arm too messed up for them; there was the badly sprung ambulance that shook me up; there was Boucicaut hospital and the emergency service.

It was three o'clock, and my morning ride was already taking a big bite out of the afternoon.

My arm by now was calm in its splint.

The surgeon had told me: 'You've lost some bone; we're going to have to screw plates on and do a graft with bone from your hip,' and he went off to lunch. I was just about to finish digesting the cereal bar I had had during my circuit before coming to the surgery unit.

At exactly this point there were five of them riding at the front, and I had the sense that the great Demeyer was taking cover. On the cobbles he was circumspect; he was riding strongly, as always, but at the back. Moser and De Vlaeminck weren't doing much better. Hinault, for his part, was pulling the train with his teeth clenched, as on any other hard day. Paris-Roubaix isn't a race where you joke around; his world champion's jersey was filthy, the kind of filth you frame under glass. The closeups on TV showed him tight-faced, concentrating hard. He wasn't trying to make a break, and nothing was more exasperating than watching him carrying everybody in his panniers on the way to Roubaix.

They were ten Ks from the finish line when the surgeon came back:

'Let's go - the operating room's ready.'

'Five minutes ... I want to see the end of the race.'

'You'll find out about it later.'

'I won't be able to sleep if I don't know.'

'With what they're going to give you that would surprise me.'

He made the mistake of glancing at the TV, and he had to sit down on the edge of my bed. The race's tension was so extreme that he didn't say a word.

Kuiper entered the velodrome first, with De Vlaeminck, pallid, on his wheel. Four hundred meters from the line, the Badger (Hinault) took the lead and upped the pressure. Demeyer tried to whip past him but couldn't get beyond his pedals. Nobody else had the strength to try.

The Badger picked up his bouquet and publicly restated that the race was, indeed, bullshit. Now he knew exactly what he was talking about.

Then there was my first shot, the gurney, the green smock, the second shot. Sitting on the operating table, in a contented haze, I did an inventory of the tools that were gleaming next to my bed: nails, screws, casts, pliers, a saw ...

There was a Black and Decker drill, and I went under sorry that it wasn't a Peugeot ... Great team, Peugeot.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Need for the Bike by Paul Fournel Copyright © 2003 by University of Nebraska Press. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author


Paul Fournel is a member of Oulipo, a collective of avant-garde writers whose works focus on the problems and puzzles of language. He is presently the cultural attaché at the French Embassy in Cairo. Allan Stoekl is a professor of French at Pennsylvania State University, the author and editor of a number of books, and the translator of Maurice Blanchot’s The Most High (Nebraska 1996).

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