To Make Riders Faster is a nonfiction business/finance book written by Anna Dopico. Gerard Vrooman and Phil White met in 1995, while they were both students at McGill University. Vrooman had been a mechanical engineering student in the Netherlands, whose lifelong interest in cycling, fascination with Professor Chet Kyle’s aerodynamic time-trial bike research, and desire to experience a different culture led him to do his final project at McGill. Phil White had also studied mechanical engineering at the University of Ottawa, which he and the author, his wife, attended. His interests included auto racing and design. When he decided to go for a masters at McGill, he was considering a future in racing design, composites, or bike design after being influenced by Kestrel’s all-carbon racing bike. The two met in the composites lab, and a seventeen-year relationship began as Cervélo, a trail-blazing business on a shoestring budget which would end up revolutionizing bike design. The two worked in the basement of McGill until their professor decided upon another project for that space. Then they used the basement in the building where Vrooman rented a room. They came up with the Baracchi, an aerodynamic tour de force that started them thinking about going into business. As they did so, Vrooman and White defeated the odds again and again. Each year found them considering a new project, a new design, always keeping in mind the need “to make riders faster.”
I was interested in reading To Make Riders Faster out of a love of sports, particularly biking and auto racing, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Dopico’s book is a big read that’s lovingly penned and gorgeously illustrated and presented. It’s also an exciting and often spellbinding story that kept me happily entranced as I read. I loved getting the inside scoop on how bikes are designed and eagerly anticipated the pictures of each new bike as they were presented. Dopico’s own background in finance helped me to see the actual challenges Vrooman and White faced with keeping control over their rapidly building business and maintaining some sense of perspective over the scope of their achievements. I found myself Googling the Cervélo bikes as Dopico discussed them and began fantasizing about answering several of the for-sale ads that I saw. Dopico makes the reader feel privy to those creative design moments as well as those races they attended where their designs broke records. This book is a real treat for anyone who appreciates bikes and design, and a must-have for anyone who owns one of these marvelous bikes. To Make Riders Faster is most highly recommended.
Reviewed By Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite