Saturday, January 5, 2013

Reaction to Just Ride by Grant Peterson

I was lucky to receive a free, signed copy of Just Ride by Grant Peterson.  He was commenting on a blog post about his book and offered free copies to the first 10 respondents.  He later said that he gave away 30 copies and I was one of the lucky ones.

Both Grant and I have been riding for some time with Grant being the elder, perhaps.  His experience is pretty different than mine, having made his living in the bicycling industry while I have been a consumer.  He has also used bicycles for transportation far more than me.  He had his first big tour in 1976, mine was in 1985, although I did a couple of week long tours prior to that.  He is living the dream while I just dream.

The book was a fun, quick, and easy read.  It's organization around discrete topics makes it an easy reference and easy to pick up.  I have to say that I agree with a lot of what he says and my bicycles reflect some of that similar thinking.  I do have a couple of disagreements, however.

Helmets: I believe they are pretty useful.  I've seen helmets dented in a fall and have to imagine that the owners of the those helmets would have been worse for the wear without a helmet.  I've seen falls in many places and while I could care less about convincing those who think that they need helmets only on fast rides or only at night or not at all, I am convinced that I always should wear one.  Heck, they are light and I hardly notice it on my head.  He should stick to his guns and use it when he thinks he needs it and I hope he is right. I'll continue to use my helmet.

I also disagree with Grant regarding cycling clothes.  I always wear cycling shorts, whether on long rides or my 14 mile round trip commute.  Good shorts are comfortable while you are on your bike.  I also think jerseys work well in warm to moderate temperatures and the pockets are useful if you aren't using a decent size bag of some sort, which is true for me a decent amount of time. I wear my cycling shorts under my street clothes when I am commuting.

Otherwise we tend to be of like mind.  One of my bikes has narrower tires than I suspect he would use (25mm) but both bikes fit me, having been fitted by Roy from Grace Bicycles.  I think having a well fitted bicycle, when you can afford it, is far better than a close-ish fit.  Having high handlebars may take the pressure off of your hands but you can get to a good weight balance without compromising your ability to crank when you want to.

I also don't think of myself as an unracer - I'm just a bike rider.  Sometimes I commute on my bike, sometimes I go for long rides, some times I go for long, fast rides (long being relative, of course) but I don't compare what I do with racing.  I do use some technology developed for racing and my bike has some history in racing, although not recent history.  Having the focus on un-racing is an odd choice for someone so entrenched in other kinds of cycling.

I'm sure one could find many details to disagree with but I'd rather not and not because he gave me the book for free.  Instead I prefer to to learn from any differences we might have.  I've been proven wrong before and I'm happy to learn something new.

Should you read it?  Sure.  If you are a beginner cyclist you will learn something new and if you are an experienced cyclist you will be at least amused.

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