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?