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The Art of Cycling: Philosophy, Meaning, and a Life on Two Wheels (Hardcover)
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A meditative love letter to the sport of cycling which explores how the cultivation of a tangible skill can shed new light on age-old questions of selfhood, meaning, and purpose.
Interweaving a deeply personal narrative of elite-level cycling and mental health struggles with an evocative history of Western philosophy from Plato to the Existentialists, The Art of Cycling explores the limits of rationality and how the visceral, embodied nature of sport ultimately has the potential to redeem us from the painful, locked-in isolation of our own heads.
In the tradition of philosophical road trip titles like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and On the Road, The Art of Cycling turns a critical eye towards our increasingly disconnected digital lives —showing how re-engaging with the material world can breathe new vitality into everyday existence and serve as a countervailing force against the sense of detachment which has come to characterize modern life for so many.
About the Author
James Hamilton Hibbard's writing has appeared in journals including Ploughshares, Aporia, Otherwise, Noetic, and Aethlon. He studied philosophy at the University of California at Santa Cruz and Depaul University, and has received grants and been selected for residencies by PEN America and Tin House. A former UCI professional road cyclist and member of the U.S Cycling Team, James has written extensively on the sport of cycling. He lives in the foothills of California's Santa Clara Valley with his wife and young son.
Visit him at www.jameshamiltonhibbard.com.
“In The Art of Cycling, James Hibbard dissects how a bike ride can affect our thoughts and emotions, how it parallels the trials and joys we face in life, and why someone might pursue a career in bike racing.”
— The Wall Street Journal
"Cycling is only the top layer of Hibbard’s multilayer work of visceral philosophy, a work that draws on insights from Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, T.S. Eliot, Dostoevsky, and many others. From the pains and strains of athletic pursuits to the hyper-competitive mire of academia, Hibbard shows how all the detours and dead-ends in life, when self-doubt and depression take hold, can lift us into an inexpressible intimacy with existence, where mind, body, and world shed their painful separateness. The Art of Cycling is a philosophical memoir that truly embodies the wisdom of Dostoevsky, expressed through Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov, that we should love life more than the meaning of life."
— Jonathan van Belle, co-author of Henry at Work: Thoreau on Making a Living
"When you 'draft' in cycling, you tuck yourself behind a lead rider and let him or her take the wind and pull you along. This is what one gets to do in reading Hibbard's The Art of Cycling - draft off a strong writer and thinker through a meditation on a very basic, but incredibly beautiful, method of going from here to there at high speed. Drafting can be dangerous if the lead rider is unsteady, but Hibbard proves a reliable guide. The Art of Cycling is worth the ride."
— John Kaag, author of Hiking with Nietzsche
"An exceptional read."
— Paul Kimmage, author of Rough Ride
"Cycling is an extended form of thinking and The Art of Cycling is a dazzling trip on both counts. Taking a racing line between Descartes and Nietzsche, Moser and Merckx, James Hibbard dismantles what it means to be a cyclist and puts it together again in thought-provoking ways - and, like a Zen master or cyclist in the mountains, achieves moments of transcendence"
— Max Leonard, author of Higher Calling
"A delicate balance of storytelling and putting his life and cycling into philosophical context, Hibbard manages to produce a dynamic yet insightful read."