Monday, December 31, 2012

Review It!!

I'll see if I can put something together here that looks like a book review that Mrs Abbott, my 5th grade teacher would give me a passing grade on.

The book is JUST RIDE "A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike". The Author is Grant Peterson.

Everybody probably recognizes Grant's name as the founder/owner of Rivendell bicycles. If you have never been to the Rivendell web site I would recommend it. If you have and you read some of the bike philosophy 
that Grant has written in his Rivendell Readers over the years you have already gotten the basic points of this book.
The premise of the book is that the cycle world is made up of Racers and Unracers and the influence that Racers have on manufacturers and thus what is perceived by the general  cycling buying public who really are Unracers. The idea that whatever the pros use means it must be perfect for everybody. Grant says " Hogwash!!" His idea is that the Racer influence is possibly the worst thing that has happened to cycling over the last twenty years. Grant then works his way through 8 parts in the book covering topics of Riding, Clothing, Safety, Health and Fitness, Accessories, Upkeep, Technicalities, and Velosophy.
He explains his outlook on each topic and supports his stance with logic and fact. I am sure there are many people who will disagree with many of his ideas and take on things. He acknowledges that many will disagree with his ideas and only asks the reader to have an open mind and consider what he has to say.  Grant obviously has strong opinions and by stating them in a book he sets himself up for argument and disagreement.
When you read the book, if you have an open mind, and you are honest with your own riding abilities, then it is my belief that he writes of a cycling world we are all a part of. Not a world of TdFrance racers. He points out that bicycle manufacturers push the TdF race style bikes, yet nothing could be possibly right about a regular person riding a bike like that for fun and comfort and practicality.
Grant does explore the wearing of helmets in the safety section. Here is the one place in the book I believe he contradicts himself. His reasoning is that because you would wear a helmet, then you would feel safer and thus take more risks. He states that he is contradictory himself and does not wear a helmet on short trips around town but will wear one at night. It is also his belief that mandatory helmet laws just turn people away from riding. He thinks it is a touchy subject but feels a helmet should be up to each individual to choose to wear or not. He does have a chapter on how to wear your helmet properly if you do choose to wear one so he is interested in being fair about the helmet issue and helping people.
The book is a great resource for anyone that is new to cycling. The chapters on riding, upkeep, and safety are great for newby's and good reminders for veteran riders.
I found the part on Health and Fitness to be very informative. I have actually adopted many of his ideas into my daily fitness program with some success! Much of this section has very little to do with riding a bike but has to do with fitness and healthy eating habits and many misconceptions that corporations have foisted on the American public. An example of this are energy drinks that really do nothing for you except make you fat. I think this part of the book could help anybody interested in fitness and is alone worth the price of the book.

Bottom line is I recommend the book. If you are the super club racer dude that rides a 14 pound carbon bike and vision yourself to be close to making a team this next year, then the book is not for you.
If you are a regular person who likes bikes as a fun way to get around and experience the outdoor world around you, then this is the book for you.
I think some of his best advice is given near the end of the book when he tells us to stop thinking of your bike as a "tool". Tools are for work. Bikes should be toys, made to have fun on and enjoy the ride.
Order it from Rivendell Bicycles online site, about 14 bucks or so.


  1. Sounds like an enjoyable read, but one I'd need to keep an open mind while reading. I'm one of those strange ones however that enjoy riding my "racing" bike. I actually find it comfortable, even for long distances. Can't say I agree with his helmet ideas much either. I do agree with the idea that one should ride a bike for the pure enjoyment of it, whatever that enjoyment is. I'm not one who sees my bike as a toy, but rather as a fitness machine, something to keep me healthy and fit for the remainder of my life. If I saw it as a toy, I would have never progressed beyond the $50 Walmart bike and the 5 mile rides I thought were so tremendous. So, yeah....I see it as a tool, not a toy, becoming fit was what got me into riding in the first place. I'm one of those people who enjoy work, and won't apply myself to a toy nearly as strenuously. Seriously, I think you're a bit that way too. Thanks for the book report..... I'll give you an "A"....... Maybe the book's just not really my style.

  2. I haven't read it yet, nor either of the Snob's books or Fatty's either...I haven't read Ride One or Ride Two and in fact, the only cycling book I ever remember reading was when I was twelve years old and I found a book at the library about a french orphan who goes on to win the Tour of something or other. It was a good book but that was forty five years ago. It went into great detail about training to be a pro and discussed diet and exercise and training and even how to trim your toenails properly so they don't bleed during the grueling climbs. It was great and when I put it down I knew I would one day be a professional cyclist. And who knows? I ain't dead yet...

    Thar whole toy discussion is a semantic wrestling match. Is a Maserati a tool or a toy? How about a saxophone? A rifle? They can all be used to perform a chore or function, and they can all certainly be fun to use, which I guess is the difference. But I get where Richard is coming from. I used "toy" as a derogatory term in my post about returning the OX29 Walmart bike.

    I follow the Booger of one of those crabonic cyclists you mention, Jim, and really enjoy his perspective and take on the whole spandex marvelosa syndrome. Those guys are amateur atheletes and thus their bikes are far from toys...but at the same time they use them as instruments of play.

    Me, I just came in from a 34 mile loop that took me three hours to ride. There is a hardpack dirt section of five miles through forest canopy that i did twice just because it was so mysterious and quiet and smooth and wonderful. I don't know if my bike at that point was a tool or a toy. I do know that it was Me 'Little Darlin' because she did her magic and disappeared from beneath me as I flew silently along that lost lane. Man! That's what it is all about, guys. The disappearing bicycle! More miles in '13!


    1. You are right TJ, semantics and perception. Toy or tools? Each of us gets out of our rides and the machines we use what we put into it and take away from it.
      I am really not putting down the carbon bike racer type in the full matching kit. I hope that was not the perception I gave. I am certainly not, in any cycling world, qualified to pass judgement on the style of riding anybody does. I'll just never be one of those racer dudes. Any more than I'll be the super single track mountain bike guy, or the snow biker with ginormous fat tires. I think it is great that the cycle world has all these options to appeal to many different people.
      I have seen first hand the strange looks and talk that I have had with racers types when I have been on a self-contained tour. As we look at each other, and bikes, I can tell we both are thinking "No way am I ever doing that!"