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Don't buy the racing hype--or the racing bike

  • Feb 14, 2013
I have never been a fan of bike racing--it is a dirty sport, everybody juices, and it holds no interest--so until I read Just ride I didn't realize how much the race game influenced my street ride.  For the last 20 years or so I have enjoyed biking for the exercise and the fun of going faster than a jog through the open air. I am on my second "better than Sears" bike bought at a bike shop, both well less than $1,000, in other words, just a nice fun-to-ride bike.  I'd never thought much about why it looks and rides like it does, until now.

Peterson has been in the bike business as a professional race rider and shop owner for many years, and the book is his list of sometimes contrarian ways in which racers have ruined biking for the rest of us.  But Peterson doesn't set out to be difficult, he just wants the rest of us to know we don't need $5,000 bikes with pencil thin tires or $200 shoes with clips and cleats, and that we don't need to be megamilers or regimented gear freaks to just have fun and be safe and healthy riding a bike. 

His 89 statements cover equipment, riding styles, health, safety and maintenance and concludes with this simple reminder:  "Your bike is a toy.  Have fun with it."   Even if you are like me and could care less about racing, you still might benefit from the reminder not to obsess on frame weight (Peterson's take:  the engine--that's you--weighs much more than any couple of pounds weight difference for a much more expensive frame that won't last as long or be as comfortable to ride in a broader range of conditions) or counting miles to judge the quality of a ride (Peterson:  count days, not miles, even if you only ride a couple of miles).

Remember the point:  the bike is a fun toy and sometimes practical way to go A to B.  Peterson will help you relax and have fun with it.  Note that while he does include some maintenance and gear tips like how to check chain wear or size cranks, this is not a maintenance manual and  not a replacement for one if you like to do your own maintenance.   And yes, Peterson has an opinion on that, too (do as little as possible until it makes funny noises--your bike, I mean).

So as I sit here in early February Illinois looking out at 30 degree days with 20 MPH winds, my bike sits lonely and waiting in the kitchen for me to ride again.  Come on, Spring!

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Todd Stockslager ()
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I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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Grant Petersen is the founder and owner of Rivendell Bicycle Works and writes theRivendell Reader. His writing and opinions have been featured in major bike and outdoor magazines, includingBicycling,Outside, andMen s Journal. He s commuted exclusively by bike since 1980, and lives with his family in Walnut Creek, California.
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