To Make Riders Faster

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What is the most successful company born of triathlon? Zipp? Giro, depending on how much its helmet sales depended on triathletes in its formative years? Let’s be honest. It’s Cervélo, by a longshot. 

Anna Dopico’s book, “To Make Riders Faster,” on the history of that company and its founders is not only an honest, previously-unknown-fact-filled look at that company’s 17-year run under its founding partners’ ownership, the tale she tells is downright Shakespearean. She should know. As Cervélo co-founder Phil White’s wife – and an executive inside the company – Anna knows where all the MacBeths and Hamlets are buried.

The most engrossing passages are the human ones, such as those recounting conversations – arguments – between the partners, Phil White and Gerard Vroomen. “Among the employees their shouting matches were legendary,” Anna writes, one of which is faithfully transcribed and presented in the book because it was caught on video, part of an all-night design session and about whether the Soloist frame should have a round or aero head tube.

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Book Review: Books related to cycling can take many forms—a racer's biography; an account of the Tour de France; training tips; accounts of epic journeys; custom bicycles—but the story of the bicycle as the subject of an actual business enterprise is fairly rare. We have fine coffee-table books on the histories of Peugeot, Bianchi, Raleigh and Opel but a recent book gives an insider's account of the rapid rise and fate of Canadian brand Cervélo, history writ recent.

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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.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.

 

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Combination biography and business book, “To Make Riders Faster” will appeal to a variety of audiences. A constant thought that ran through my mind as I was reading was that the story would make a fascinating television documentary. It’s an impressive narrative on so many levels, from the ups and downs of starting and growing a business, working with different personalities, and doing whatever it takes to achieve the vision of the company, all the while adhering to and maintaining strong work ethics and values. 

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