The No-Drop Zone

When I first interviewed for a position at Bicycle Guide part of my screening hinged on my interest in writing how-to articles aimed at beginners. The powers-that-be had determined that the magazine needed to do more to embrace entry level riders, though there was no move afoot to turn the magazine entirely mainstream, a la Bicycling.

Some months later Joe Lindsey (these days of Bicycling and “The Boulder Report”) and I commented to each other that those article should be collected in a book. After all, once each issue went off the newsstand, there was no way for a new rider to find that material. It was gone. Imagine text books that self-destructed like those tapes on Mission Impossible.

It was then that I began concocting the idea of a reference text to roadies. It’s obvious purpose would be to educate new riders, but done right, I thought it could have the ability to offer rich background material that would interest even the dedicated roadie.

Creating an outline for a book isn’t that hard. Putting together a proposal that will interest a publisher is another matter entirely. Because my idea fell outside of the traditional how-to manuals that teach riders either how to be fast or how to fix a bike many people I talked to didn’t see the need for it. Of course, none of those people I talked to had ever joined in a group ride. Fortunately for me, the people at Menasha Ridge Press saw the value in taking a total newbie through what is essentially Road Cycling 101.

Between writing the proposal, then the text, and, later, the editing, I’ve devoted a fair chunk of the last five years of my life to this book. Greg Page, the photographer responsible for most of the photos illustrating the text is the only man I know with the knowledge of the sport, the skill as a shooter and the patience necessary to work with me to have made the book as visually instructive as it is. His contribution cannot be overstated. Greg and I spent the better part of a year just on the photo shoots the book required. Honestly, writing this book was tougher than finishing graduate school.

For dedicated readers of RKP, there is, admittedly, a fair amount of information that will be rudimentary to the point of obvious. It’s likely that in chapters like the ones on group riding, advanced skills, materials and construction and geometry (as well as others) that you’ll find information that will be novel to you. The chapter on professional racing can serve you as a handy cheat sheet—’Wait, did Merckx win 525 or 535 times?’ ‘Did Bernard Hinault win more Grand Tours than Lance?’

I’ve written The NoDrop Zone not as a reflection of my experiences and beliefs, but rather as a compendium of all those who taught me over the years. I am hopeful that even the most experienced would find it an enjoyable and even illuminating read.

The bike industry has been extremely supportive of this book. Andy Hampsten lent his insight to the foreword, and authorities no less auspicious than Mike Sinyard of Specialized, Fatty of Fat Cyclist, Brad Roe of peloton and Joe Parkin at Paved have lent their expertise and endorsements. Heck, recent silver medalist at the World Championships, Dotsie Bausch, gave me considerable assistance with the chapter devoted to women’s issues.

I’m hoping that each of you will pick up a copy of The No-Drop Zone for the simple reason that nothing will sell this book as well as a recommendation from an experienced cyclist, like you, the readers of RKP.

I’m learning that pre-orders for a book online can have a profound effect if bricks-and-mortar stores stock a given book. Naturally, having this book in every Barnes & Noble around the country would do me a world of good and provide more availability to cyclists who like to shop retail. If you’re interested in this book, I hope you’ll go to the site and place an order for it. We’re probably five or six weeks from shipping the books out, but your pre-orders could have a powerful role in that chain’s decision to stock it in all of their locations. You can find the book here.

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  1. sophrosune

    Padraig, Do you ever sleep? A blog, a book, a job, a wife and kid, and more mileage than I could dream of. I feel guilty just sitting here reading your stuff. Cheers.

    1. Author

      Sophrosune: Thanks for the kind words. The “job” as it were is “freelance writer” which is a constant scramble performed mostly between the hours of 3 pm and 8 pm … seven days a week. At the rate I’m going, I’m unlikely to retire, which is both good and bad.

      Time to finish up that next book proposal. Oh, and watch for an announcement from Velonation.

  2. Adrian

    Via a blog at we have been sharing what we are learning about training and racing …. we raise a lot of questions and don’t often get answers so I will be keen to get hold of your book!

    1. Author

      Adrian: Thanks much. I should mention though that The No-Drop Zone focuses more on the skills necessary to ride in a group. It’s really not meant as a racing manual. I’ve tried to include everything a rider may want to know short of how to race. Think of it as a way to get a friend up to speed for riding in the pack.

  3. Adrian

    I the contents and it seems a very comprehensive introduction.

    You’re right I am probably the next little step along and needing to figure out how to move up in the group, stay on wheels when they seem to mysteriously vanish, know the etiquette and when to feel embarrassed. People say it’s all about feel and being there but some prior knowledge would help. I look forward to volume 2 then!

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