Rules for the ride.

I just finished reading Grant Peterson’s book Just Ride. To me, he just makes good sense for most riding, the vast majority of which is undertaken by noncompetitive cyclists. I’m not a racer by any stretch of the imagination, so über lightweight wonder weenie carbon fibre racing machines and all the accoutrement that goes with ’em don’t matter for my style of riding, as they don’t for most people. I’m not crazy about Lycra and skin tight riding clothing, but unlike Grant I don’t plan to give up the comfort of gloves and padded riding shorts, especially for long distance cycling. Thing is, I can wear padded shorts between me and a pair of hiking shorts…I can ride comfortably and still look like I’m from Planet Earth at the same time.

I like to wear slightly athletic clothing when I ride, but that means shorts and solid colored, looser fitting jerseys that will wicke moisture. I get them for ten or twelve bucks at Target and wind up pretty much looking like every other casual person. (Besides Spiderman, who else willingly dons skin tights?)

Anyway, it got me to thinking about my own “rules for the ride,” and I decided to make a list of some of my personal “non-negotiables,” along with some relevant observations, beginning with…

…sometimes I ride without a helmet. I do. That’s just the way it is. Sue me.

On longer rides, I like to be able to clip my feet in, but I like having shoes that let me get off and walk around without clicking or slipping. My pedals have a platform on one side, so if the wife and I just feel like a ride around the block I can hop on the bike wearing whatever I happento have on at the moment. No special costume required!

Don’t wonder, wander. In other words, don’t speculate where a road may go, take it and find out.

The bell is a required accessory for my bikes. It is a polite way of saying, “Pardon me, but I’ll be riding past you in a moment.”

CO2 cartridges? No thanks, I’ll keep my full sized frame pump. If I have more than one flat or lose the damn catridge, my pump will just keep on compressing air. And if Cujo tries to shake me down, I feel safer rapping him across the snout with a solid metal frame pump. Try doing that with a cartridge! (That is, if you can get one out of your saddle bag before Fido catches up.)

I like having a bag — extra weight be damned. With a bag I can bring a camera, a jacket, a tool kit… Hell, with my Swift Ozette Rando Bag, I can chuck an entire roasted chicken into it if I feel like doing so.

Fenders are an absolute for me. End of discussion.

I like riding in the drops. I like riding on the hoods too, as well as on the bar. But I’m very comfortable in the drops and on a windy day, or zooming down a long hill, the drops are terrific. I’ve never understood riders who put themselves in a position to ride uncomfortably; invest in whatever time is necessary to get your fit fine tuned to you, and make the drops are useful for your ride. With my wide rando bars properly adjusted for length and height, I can ride comfortably in the drops for thirty minutes or longer at a time. And as anyone who cycles for hours at a time will attest, having more variety of hand positions is far preferable to having fewer.

Stop to eat the mulberries when they are in season. Ditto for raspberries, blackberries, dew berries, gooseberries, strawberries, wild cherries, and wild plums. Few things make a ride as memorable as the succulent first burst from a mouthful of wild fruit on a hot day.

Speaking of eating, here’s a simple concept that seems to confound a ton of people: if you want to lose weight, cut out the carbs. This doesn’t count for deep, leafy greens by the way because they are good for you. Eat as much of those as you can. In moderation, quinoa is great – as are beans and rice. Bread and cereal? Not so much. To lose weight, one must avoid elevated blood sugar levels, which grains and simple carbs and processed foods will contribute toward. You also need fats in moderation in order to lose weight. (Think nuts.) Lean meats in small portions. Berries…and just in case the point was missed the first time around: deep, leafy greens. This advice comes from personal experience, and not as a doctor or a dietician – neither of which applies to me anyway – but because I am a diabetic.

These are some of my personal common sense rules for the ride. What are yours?

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6 thoughts on “Rules for the ride.

  1. Great rules, and I find myself nodding with you on most. Haven’t read the book yet so didn’t know Grant’s take on gloves (figured he was ok with them since Riv sells ’em.) And I’m with you on padding: usually I’ll wear some sort of padded short underneath “normal” pants/shorts on longer rides. Liner shorts rather than full-fledged bike shorts are great for that purpose.

    Met Grant at his signing/ride/”after-party” in Portland last week. Nice guy, if a little awkward.

    • The liner shorts work for me too. Funny thing: I was in a charity ride yesterday and got asked by three different riders if my hiking shorts were “biking shorts.” In each instance I responded “yes,” knowing the follow up would be “Where did you get them?” Truth of the matter is that I don’t really recall. I got them on sale and wore them over liners so that I’d have big, baggy pockets to stuff things into if needed. In my world, that makes them “biking shorts.” And clearly at least those three fellers felt like they might make sense for their riding needs as well. I just hope that they’ll still ride in them if they have a North Face or similar logo on them.

  2. I agree with your points on cycling jerseys. In fact, I was in Target and remembered your post, so I checked out their wares. My style for jerseys digs down a bit deeper into the bargain bin. If I’m not riding my bike to work, I’m taking mass transit (bus and train) which shuttles me by a very decent Goodwill. I am shocked by the amount of amazing cycling jersey’s I have found for both myself and my wife at fantastic prices. Nearly brand new and/or vintage jerseys that don’t look like a clown vomited every color of the rainbow on them. And they are usually less than $10
    As for berries, I totally agree. Here in Portland, blackberries grow like gangbusters come July and they are everywhere. A savvy Portlander doesn’t dare grow the aggressive and talon-equipped bush in their own backyard, they have their own picking patch somewhere throughout the city. I too have my own and bring a 5 cup container with me that I easily fill up every other day for a couple of weeks.
    Thanks for the post and great, logical points. I learned a few things!

    • I am all for the thrift store aesthetic when it comes to touring garb! I run across cycling jerseys in these places sometimes too, although I draw the line at wearing a bunch of logos.

      When I lived in Alaska, we never hiked anywhere without carrying a bag to collect berries in the short summer months. My motto: Savor the berries.

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