Cover image for Need for the bike
Need for the bike
Fournel, Paul, 1947-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Besoin de vélo. English
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xi, 150 pages ; 18 cm
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV1043 .F6813 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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.

Author Notes

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).

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.