Back when I was first getting into long distance cycling around the age of 12, my dad bought me a cheap but decent Raleigh 12 speed from a garage sale. I rode that bike the whole summer and luckily never had a flat or a mechanical issue because I didn’t ride with a spare or tools. I was too young to think ahead or even think of safety, I typically didn’t wear a helmet. But I lived in the country and rolling country roads with little traffic were plentiful.
That long Minnesota winter after my first summer of riding, I bought Greg LeMond’s Complete Book of Bicycling and read it all the way through. I learned so much about biking history, racing, training, diet, maintenance and most importantly, buying a bike.
The following summer, I bought a Bianchi Forza from Twin Ports Cyclery in Duluth, MN and had a great summer of riding due in large part to learning so much from this great book. I had a seat bag, rode with a spare and tools, had clipless pedals and yes, wore spandex. I rode solo for the most part and I didn’t care that this wasn’t what other kids were doing. I was content to watch Miguel Indurain and Tony Rominger duel in the 1993 Tour de France (good effort Tony, you are still my favorite) and imagine myself racing alongside. I no longer fit into the replica Mapei-Clas (Tony’s team) jersey that I wore for the next couple years but I still have it.
I’m sure there are newer books and some information is a little out of date but if you are thinking of entering the sport and of buying a new performance bike, you could do a lot worse. This book should be the foundation of your cycling knowledge.