Muck, Sweat & Gears

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Muck, Sweat & Gears is a little book I’d seen on the shelves of my local Waterstones, but always put back after a quick browse. I’m not a big fan of little books filled with trivia which seem to have become quite commonplace these days (e.g. Schott’s Miscellany, dressed up with a veneer of faux-Victorian antiquity and grandeur), and I had no urge to acquire one specifically devoted to Cycling. However, when I saw the same book in my local library, I thought it was worth a shot.

Muck, Sweat & Gears is a collection of facts and trivia about all aspects of cycling – historic inventions, race statistics, biographical facts, and so on. It is organised in no particular order, which makes reading it quite difficult. I suppose you’re meant to dip in and out, but you have no way of knowing what you’re dipping into. It’s like a jumbled encyclopaedia – and utterly hopeless for looking anything up, even if you wanted to. The information itself seems accurate enough, although some quotes and statistics are without attribution and source.

I can’t really summarise the book, since there are no chapters, sections or anything resembling organisation throughout. Each piece of trivia generally takes up less than a page, though some run for a couple, but none of it really links to anything else. On the whole, I didn’t mind the book while I was perusing it (usually on the toilet), but now I come to review it a couple of weeks after I put it back, I can hardly remember anything factual from its pages. It’s a collection of fleeting information – interesting the moment you read it, but gone the next. Personally, I wouldn’t buy it – but it might make a nice token gift for the cyclist in your family when their birthday comes around. It’s got to be better than one of the many general trivia books out there…

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