Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Just Ride by Grant Petersen

Grant Petersen has strong opinions on all things bike-related, and is not shy about voicing them. For some people, it's an immediate turn-off. Personally, I research the heck out of everything (to the point where I'm sure it annoys close friends and family), and I greatly appreciate his thorough, straight to the point musings on all things bike. For the sake of full disclosure, I agree with much of GP's point of view, and would identify as a subscriber to Grant Petersen's "cult" or whatever more pleasant word you'd like to call it.  I have forever valued function in addition to a very specific style aesthetic when it comes to my bikes. In fact, I own a Rivendell Atlantis, a bike I pined over for many years and recently acquired from Harris Cyclery, the ultimate candy store for practical, beautiful, bikes on the US of A's East Coast. But-- back to the book.

I ordered Just Ride from my favorite place to bike to in the Urban Core, the local book seller Chamblin's Uptown, and picked it up mere day or two after placing my order. The folks that work there are AMAZING, and the coffee and food at the Uptown location is tasty, local, and veggie friendly if that is your thing. Just Ride is also available at multiple branches of the Jacksonville Public Library; thank you for stocking cool books, JPL!

Just Ride covers the basics for anyone looking to get into riding a bike-- bike fit, maintenance, rules of the road, gear, and how to practically outfit your bike for camping, everyday transportation, or commuting. Peterson strips down the knowledge he's accumulated for years, and pours it into this book with vivid descriptions that don't go over newbies' heads. I appreciate this down-to-earth approach at explaining things, because it can be difficult to get just the facts from most places. Petersen explains why bike fit and bike maintenance are important, and that it's important that your bike can do what you  need it to do (ie, carry library books or groceries home vs. competing in a peloton), but stresses that you needn't spend an arm and a leg on a bike in order to enjoy it thoroughly.

In much of Just Ride, GP refers to the "unracer," which at first was puzzling to me, but I think I know where Grant is coming from.  I was once new to bicycling, and when I look back to that time, all I knew about bikes were that people raced them.  It's what I noticed on TV and on the street. The impression that gives is that one needs an uncomfortable race bike, spandex shorts, and a ton of  accessories to get into cycling, and the media and bike shops sometimes feed into that impression. I know now that the grand world of bicycles is vast and diverse, and I went through a heck of alot of bicycles figuring that out. Since much of the bikey-diversity isn't readily available in books, magazines, shops, or even on the street, I had no clue there were other options until I scratched underneath the surface of bicycling.

I'm thoroughly excited by the recent rash of books aimed at using a bike for transportation, and Just Ride is no disappointment. If you've read much on the Rivendell Blug, some of the info in Just Ride will be familiar to you-- but there is some new info in it, and if someone is just starting out on a bike, it's a great find! Petersen's book is aimed squarely at those who are new to the world of bicycles, and assures them that racing and all of the crap that goes along with it isn't necessary-- just throw a leg over your bike and have fun riding! 

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