The Outspokin’ Cyclist – the book

I am a cyclist.

To say as much sounds strange to me. Not because it isn’t true, but because it is true. Riding a bicycle — for transportation, for errands, for joy — is something I do without thinking a whole lot about it. Pedaling is such a part of my identity that to call it out in the utterance “I am a cyclist” is to call attention to the idea that it could be otherwise. To say “I am a cyclist” when I choose to pedal a bicycle to work, to the grocery store, and along trails in the woods is akin to saying “I am a breather” or “I am someone who eats.” Both are true, but both are also trivially true. For either to be otherwise would convey that I am no longer alive. And once, I came close to knowing what it would be like not to be a cyclist.

In March 2008, I had a mountain bike accident that left me nearly unable to ride a bicycle…

The Outspokin' Cyclist, by Phillip Barron

So begins the preface to a new book gathering some of the columns I wrote for The Herald Sun between 2004 and 2008. Along with photography and a handful of writings on cycling previously published elsewhere, The Outspokin’ Cyclist offers a glimpse of what a newspaper and a city can do (and did) to support a growing bicycling community.

In 2010, my brother asked me what I thought about compiling some of my favorite columns into a book. At the time, he was starting up a new publishing house, Avenida Books. By reducing the costs of production and expanding the reach of distribution, new digital publishing tools are revolutionizing the print industry. I have been fascinated by this democratizing effect since the Internet’s early days, experimenting with blogging here at since 2003 and managing an online journal for the National Humanities Center for the final two years I worked there. So when Andrew asked me whether I wanted to learn more about book publishing first-hand, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see for myself what it took to contribute an edition that would inspire public discussion and private reflection, to paraphrase Avenida Books’ motto.

The book covers topics such as the role bicycles played in women’s liberation, whether mountain bikers can call themselves environmentalists, and why it matters whether Tour de France competitors use drugs. It also offers tips on how to fit cycling into your everyday life.

To order a copy of the book, follow the link below the version you want to buy.

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If you’re a bookstore and you would like to carry a copy, please get in touch with me at pbarronATgmailDOTcom or Avenida Books at

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