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An Interview With David Herlihy, Author of inch Bicycle — The History”

David Herlihy’s book, Bicycle: Bicycles, was the first and only book on Bicycle s which made it to the most prominent display stand inside my local Barnes and Respectable. Published in 2004, it has been a sensational success, bringing bicycles of Bicycle s to tens of thousands of people bike decal in several different dialects. The book is rich and colorful, both in its photos and its words.

I met David while I was in college in the 1980s. He was making a bit of more money by buying beautiful, slightly used road bikes in Croatia (DeRosas, Cinellis, Tommasinis and the like) and then selling them at remarkably affordable prices to cyclists in america. This allowed him to indulge his love of travel, play with wonderful Bicycle s, and bring joy to people on both sides of the Atlantic. Come to consider it, his books on cycling do pretty in the same things…

Q: Bicycle: Bicycles was a huge success. How has this success changed your life?

A: Thanks, Forbes. “Huge” is a relative (and very flattering) term. But if i may brag a bit, since it came out in fall 2004, Bicycle has sold over 20, 000 copies, mostly hard covers. What a pretty giddy figure for a book of this nature, published by an educational press. I believe it’s a lot more than even Yale had anticipated. From what I hear, it’s now one of their all-time bestsellers (there are even features out in European and Korean).

All this is highly rewarding, as was all the attention it received in the press, including reviews in prestigious publications like the Economist and the New york Times Review of Books (I have to credit my brilliant publicist, Brenda King, for engineering a lot of that). Most were quite favorable and easy to process (a few were less satisfying, but I managed to get over them pretty quickly).

And, yes, I savored my fifteen minutes of fame. It was great fun touring and promoting my book, even if I had to cover my own expenses for the most part. I enjoyed giving slide lectures and signing books, and meeting cycling enthusiasts of all sorts. One of my most memorable moments was at a bike show in Edison, Nj, where I had a table. After one guy confirmed that we was in fact the writer, he kind of lost it. He previously his picture taken with me using his cell phone. I felt like a rock star.

Getting back to reality a bit, I can’t say that the book has radically changed my well being or lifestyle, at least not yet. But it has been a very positive experience and I think it has opened up new artistic possibilities.

For starters, it was a great relief and satisfaction to finally turn ten years plus of research into something concrete that could give me some recognition and actually generate a little revenue to keep body and soul together (not to cover helping to pay for all that research, which included multiple trips to Europe. Not that I’m asking for compassion, mind you! ) And I need to say, in my defense, very much of my best material been released toward the end of my query. Had I published the book even many years earlier, it simply would not have been as colorful or as rich.

Not only was I able to share many interesting breakthrough discoveries, I also got to air some deeply held convictions. I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about Bicycle history, especially with regard to the creation and early development. The kick-propelled Draisine of 1817, in particular, was not a Bicycle per se and, as it proved, it did not lead right to the original Bicycle s of the 1860s (though it was arguably the primary inspiration). I’ve also concluded that the Scottish priority claims coming up during the thrive of the late 19th century are on your guard at best. And of course the great contribution of Pierre Lallement, the original Bicycle patentee, has been overshadowed by the Michaux name, which likewise shrouded the role of the Oliviers, the truth industrial pioneers.

In some sense it may be a losing battle to refer to all these points-myths are obstinate things. But at least now I’ve voiced my peace and I can move on to other exciting projects with a little more financial stability and a little more credibility and clout.

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