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A DIY Bike Book for the Gals: Julie Harrell's "A Woman's Bike Book"

June 09, 2010


Julie Cruiser just came out with a new bike book for women. But it's good for anyone to read. It's an expanded new edition of her earlier bike book. She's published it herself. It's intended as a personal view of one gal's life in bikes and the way that she's learned to share what she knows with other women. She's worked many years in bike shops and knows her way around wrenches. Her attitude is what gives her a great entre' into all the various outdoor sports that she's involved with. She's gungho and willing to make mistakes. She's not afraid to mix it up with the guys. At the same time she's learned that there are definitely helpful things for women to keep in mind out there in the land of dudes and machinery.

It's 6" x 8" and 115 pages of text and 30 pages of color photos. The photos show a wide range of ladies and their bikes in their natural settings and in some dandy shops. Book price is about $15.

Jules is also a snowboarder, ski patroller, EMT/S&R, kayaker, climber -- the works. She writes on these subjects as well, at her blog and elsewhere. Her blog is "Julie Harrell, Adventures in Living" at photonicgirl.blogspot.com/

She's into yoga, gardening and metaphysics. She's 50-something, married, has kids. Been around the block. Knows a thing or two.

In this book Julie introduces us to the common range of gungho bikes you're likely to run into and the reasons for each type. She shows you the mindsets behind the styles of riding that they fit in with.

Then she has Diet and Yoga sections to help riders get ready for the experience and to be able to build and keep a lifelong connection to fresh air action like cycling.

She ties her advice and info in with related stories of what she's gone through as well as made-up case profiles of various ladies whose situations help illustrate her points.

The book has a, to me, hilarious lady aspect to it in that *shopping* takes on a bigger role than I've ever seen it in a bike book. !!! But, hey, this is a woman's bike book. Literally, it's *a* woman's view. Julie lets you into her world. We all have our relationships to shopping. She has hers! And I'm betting that more than a few ladies will be able to relate to it.


Stand-out sections include the "how to ride with dudes" chapter. Now, all male riders aren't the gungho types she inclines toward but a lot of them are and if you're high-energy yourself you may gravitate to fast-paced group rides for at least some of your outings. Such rides will tend to be made up mostly of guys. How to handle it? Julie doesn't get overly introspective but she gives a lot of basically helpful info, such as how their quirks are not personal, it's just the way guys get in hammerhead-type groups. You might get dropped and no one even looks back. You might hear remarks that are in code or show no sympathy. This can provoke you to ditch the group OR there might be a way to figure it out and be prepared in a way that lets you thrive and get your foot on the inside of the scene. She also includes the hot tip to NOT date within the pack, along with a few examples of what she means. Adventure pals are one thing, dates are another. The net result of abstinence is a group where you'll keep your welcome.

I'd like to interject my own two bits along these lines and expand a bit on what Julie brings up. I know it's beyond a review but what the hey. I'd like to note that there are a lot of group rides out there that are NOT hammerhead-ish. They're becoming more popular all the time and they're a great place for moderate riders of any gender to hang out and get exercise along with socializing. Urban outings tend to go along these lines (unless they're Alleycat events). Advocacy rides also are very welcoming and diverse. The recent push to vintage and Tweed Ride action works, too. Everyone can get tired of hammer-riding and it's good to mix it up. I suppose a truism would be that the slower a ride is the more diverse it is. I note that even a racer needs to ride easy at least once a week. But even in such settings there are likely good things to know about "riding with the guys." But, again, the slower a ride is the more it'll just be like normal socializing. As a group ride becomes more intense the "Mars" aspects come on stronger and need a bolder heads-up attitude to deal with.

Another superstrong point of the book is the way she makes wrenching accessible. Lots of people are afraid of machines, tools and grease. Julie leads the way with an easy-going approach. She covers the basics. And she covers the social side, too. No one can fix everything or know it all, if they're regular folks, so how to relate to the bike shop? To the backroom mechanic? They're people, too. And there's a culture there. Julie shows us how to fit in.

Now, she plays fast'n'loose with a lot of concepts in this book, but that's her style. She's found ways that work for her and she's just sharing them. You might have a different way. The rule book might have yet another way. Right at the start she says this is just her way and to get official manuals if you really want to do things like wrench right. But if you just want to get the feel for it all and get over your fear of flying this book is a great way to do it for anyone.

Jules talks the language of the gungho outdoor ladies. It reads pretty easy to me. But it is a different language! There's code in there, which I don't always get.

It kinda relates to the fact that there can be a ski tour up north with a picnic afterward and 50 guys and 5 gals will show up, but if there's a Ladies Tour with some special food stops along the EXACT SAME trail then, like, 500 women will show up and rock-party the woods. It's like they're out there but they're waiting for an event with the right tone to it to show up. This book has that tone. So join the party. ...But don't forget to invite me! (My rides are no-drop. If yours are, lemme know!)

[Note: If you click this link and buy her book, or anything else on your visit to Amazon, OYB gets a percent. Thanks! --JP]
http://www.amazon.com/Womans-Bike-Book-Julie-Harrell/dp/0981877737/jeffpottersoutyoA/

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