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book review: just ride

I mentioned Rivendell Bikes a couple of reviews ago, and Just Ride is a book by the founder of the company, Grant Petersen. It’s a collection of strategies and velosophies (his coinage) for riding bicycles – “a radically practical guide.” The big idea behind the book is that bicycle racing has fucked up the way people purchase and ride bicycles. Most people are built differently than pro cyclists and ride their bikes differently but bike manufacturers try to sell things meant for racing racing racing!

Petersen talks about how you don’t need so many gears on your bike, or fancy cycling-specific clothes and how the weight of steel frames makes for a more pleasant and durable machine. Now, of course his philosophy does mean that the kinds of bikes you’d want to buy if you bought into everything he says here might end up being Rivendell bikes.

But even though we’re all enmeshed in fucking capitalism, I think the ideas in Just Ride are more in line with the kind of riding I prefer. I just want to ride my bike places, not be a King of the Mountain on Strava. So far the most direct change I’ve made to my bike-thinking as a result of this book was change my year’s cycling goals to being time focused rather than distance.

I do really like my road bike’s clipless pedals and my cycling shoes that go with them, so I’m not throwing them away. But winter-biking like I’ve been trying to do has made me happy I can ride my mountain bike with my regular sheepskin lined wintry boots. I didn’t agree with everything in the book, and there’s a part of me that is interested in bike racing as a sport, but I’d totes recommend bike-interested people to Just Ride.

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