Monday, July 30, 2012

Just Ride - Book Review

As I've mentioned a few times in this wildly popular blog (ha!), I'm a bit of Grant Petersen fan, starting from his days running Bridgestone during the company's heyday of the '90s.  As proof, purchased three new Bridgestones in '91:  RB-1, MB-Zip, and MB-3.  The vibe, catalogs, and bikes from Bridgestone were something out of the ordinary for that era.  Most things Bridgestone have now become eBay collector items to some extent, and the company is remembered fondly many years later.

As most bike nuts already know - after Bridgestone USA folded up - Grant went on to start Rivendell and himself becoming somewhat of an icon in certain bike culture circles.  Rivendell carving its own little niche of real world bikes and accessories.  There's no hype involved, the company just sells what it believes in and doesn't follow any fads or trends.  Even if you don't agree with Grant/Rivendell you gotta enjoy someone who stays their course.  I know I do and always enjoy reading his words and checking out the Rivendell site.

With that, I enjoyed reading his book - a guide for folks looking to ride without pretending to be a racer - the Unracer, as he calls it.  If you're familiar with Grant Petersen, the book basically puts all his views in one convenient place:  Handlebars should high enough to be comfortable, frames need enough room to handle fatter tires and fenders, baskets and bags are a good thing, steel frames rule, carbon fiber is unreliable, don't use clipless pedals, wear normal clothes to ride, etc - the list goes on and on...

And for the most part, for many riders, I agree with him - even though I don't subscribe to it all myself.  I usually dress like the wannabe racer (and do race occasionally), I'd rather use a messenger bag then clutter my bike(s) up with bags or baskets.  I own a carbon road bike (along with steel) and will never give up clipless pedals.  My mountain bike does indeed sport a suspension fork.  After riding as the (alleged) adult for 28 years, I've developed my own style/beliefs.  Grant's book basically documents his bike related style/beliefs and there's nothing wrong with that - as well as being fun to read.

As mentioned, I do agree with Grant on many things.  For most people just looking to ride, using racers as role models is stupid, and cuts down on "normal" folks from perhaps doing just that - ride.  You really don't need to dress like a Euro Pro to cruise the bike trail for an hour or commute to work.  Fatter tires are more comfortable.  Fenders do work and keep the toxic road stripe off your back.  A basket or large bags do allow you to actually carry something on a ride, besides a spare tube and CO2 cartridge.  And horror of horrors, if you want a kickstand to hold your bike up - use one.  All this stuff adds up to using the bike for more then a "training tool" or pretending to be a racer.  And we need more of that, the more people riding bikes, the better.

if you're familiar with Grant, some of the chapter titles give you a clue to what they'll contain:  Racing Ruins the Breed, The Shoes Ruse, Helmets Aren't All They're Cracked Up to Be, Most Bikes Don't Fit, No Ride Too Short.  My favorite was Frame Arithmetic, spelling out insights to frame design.  Cool stuff.

If you're not familiar with Grant and looking for tips and views that go beyond the usual bike marketing hype, this will also be a fun read.  Give it a whirl, book available off the Rivendell site.  Ride on, ride often...

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more. I think the thing about GP is that he sticks to his guns. I think you have to look back to see where you are at today. Researching my MB-1 project I found out that Bridgestone made a Belt Drive bicycle back-in-the-day.

    Most people and me being one think that this is all new stuff. Its not! People are just figuring how to make it better or its just catching on the second time around.

    There are others out there that skip to the beat of there own drum, or school or not and they can ride!