Oct 012012
Just Ride: A Betsy Book Review

Here's Betsy bike, with Betsy! This was taken on our Bikespedition #1 and she's looking totally cute in the Bluebelle Ruu-Muu that goes with the color of her bike.

As a frequent bike commuter and leader of a woman’s cycling group, I was delighted to read Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike by Grant Peterson. The author has cycled daily for over forty years, raced, sold, and built bikes for decades.

Peterson’s thesis is a simple one: bike racing has added much knowledge to cycling, but its influence has harmed how the average person views riding a bike. He advocates for being an “unracer,” to ride like we did as kids, and to ride for fun.

The chapters are separated into sections and the first deals with the mechanics of biking. While I cycle over a thousand miles a year, I never really learned the science of riding, so this section was interesting to me. He discusses how to make turns, take hills, and shift more effectively.

In the following section titled “Suiting Up,” Peterson explains why we don’t need to wear stretchy clothes and why it’s okay not to wear shoes that attach to your pedals. The author continues with chapters about safety and health and fitness that would be helpful for anyone who bikes, as well as covering what accessories, saddles, gearing, and frame size that are needed. He concludes with a section titled “Velosophy” that provides his opinions on everything from charity rides, to riding with children, to camping on a bike.

Just Ride is an enlightening read. While anyone who cycles will find chapters that seem obvious, most of his information is helpful, and it is especially positive for those of us who will never win a race nor have a bike that we can lift with one finger. It reminds us that the biking community should be inclusive and demonstrates the lovely simplicity of cycling.

Peterson reminds us to forget about goals and races, to wear the clothes we own, to count rides by days rather than miles, and to ride a bike that is built to carry our stuff. In a concluding section, he states “A bicycle should make your life better, not take it over and boss you around.”  After reading Just Ride, I am proud to be an unracer and appreciative of the support the author brings to the everyday cyclist.

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