Sunday, March 3, 2013

In my opinion...Just Ride

I've been a fan of Rivendell Bike Works for many years. In a time when the bicycling industry continues to be dominated by brand-recognition for the masses, RBW and other small boutique shops are fighting the good fight against how the industry is marketed.

Grant Peterson, founder of RBW, has no doubt touched on a chord with his book, Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide To Riding Your Bike. In just 115 pages (e-reader edition), he attempts to undo everything we've been led to believe about how we ride our bikes. In short, racing wannabe's is bad. Riding for fun is good.

Just read.

Let me pause here for a moment to declare that I love bicycle racing. Like any fan of any sport, I get caught up in the stories of the athletes, the technological advances in equipment, and have a deep appreciation for anyone who rides at 35+ miles per hour sandwiched inside a peloton. As a sport, there is much to admire.

So in this regard, I don't completely agree with Mr. Peterson that racing has been a bad influence. Who hasn't watched a baseball game and fantasized about being on the pitcher's mound in Yankee Stadium? Or wished they could receive a pass from a NFL quarterback? We're all guilty of projecting our athletic dreams into our day-to-day lives and sometimes that's half the fun.

I would encourage anyone to wear the jerseys and ride a racing-style bike if that helps them enjoy the experience. But don't be intimidated or discouraged if you think that's the only way to ride. Admittedly, bicycling can be an expensive hobby/sport, but it doesn't have to be.

And herein lies one of the major points of the book. Why try to keep up with the pros, who are paid to ride and get a new bike whenever they need one? Why buy a bike stand when you can use a tree and some inner tubes? Why spend money on spandex when you can ride with the clothes you already have in your closet?

My favorite chapter, Velosophy, comes at the very end of the book. The section on How to make your family hate riding is the author's sarcastic take on what not to do if you want your loved ones to enjoy bicycling on their terms. This advice is no doubt gleaned from his personal experience with his own family.

Whether you're a racing enthusiast, an unracer, or somewhere in-between, Just Ride should have something to offer you. Buy it, read it, then pass it on to someone who hasn't been immersed in the bicycling culture of the past twenty years. It may just keep them from becoming an elitist bike snob.

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