A good book. Also, overnight bike trips are fun.

A guide to biking simplyjust ride book

We have a new book for sale in the shop called “Just Ride,” by Grant Petersen, founder of Rivendell Bicycles. I’ve long been a fan of Petersen’s take on bicycle design, which favors practicality and comfort over speed for the many who don’t race. But I was curious to learn more about his general “velosophy” (his term), so I picked up a copy for myself.

The book was a fast read, with lots of useful tips and insight for both new and experienced riders. I particularly appreciated Petersen’s firm-but-never-mean-spirited criticism of the way bike racing has adversely affected everyday bike riding, influencing everything from bike apparel to frame materials and geometry. Although he critiques much of the cycling-as-sport perspective, I was left with the overarching impression that Petersen is just trying to simplify things, to get us past the hangups of gear and weight and having to go super fast all the time, and encouraging us to “just ride” for the fun of it or as a practical means of transportation (as most of the world does).

It’s hard to talk about this without worrying that some feathers will get ruffled, but I share my thoughts in the spirit of encouraging more people to ride. I think Petersen shares that same spirit. Given that, and the loads of practical advice he dispenses based on decades in the bike industry, I highly recommend the book. 

Overnight bike rides: very fun, minimal hassle

One of the highlights from the book is a chapter called “S24O,” which stands for “Sub 24-hour Overnight.” Petersen’s term applies to any overnight bike trip that takes participants away from busy city life but then returns them in less than a day, usually in time for work the next morning. Because it’s such a short trip, it requires less planning and gear than a multiday tour, and if anything goes wrong (I forgot my headlamp/patch kit/toothbrush), the limited distance and duration mitigate the effects.

The chapter made me think of a great S24O ride I took a few years back with Juliette, David, and a few of our friends to Whidbey Island. We met downtown after work on a Tuesday afternoon and took the Sounder commuter train to the Mukilteo ferry terminal. We hopped on the ferry and then rode our bikes a few miles on the island to a farmhouse where our friends were staying. We built a fire, made dinner, and hung out before camping for the night. The next morning we caught an early ferry and an early train back to the city, and all of us were at work by 9 a.m. The trip was a blast, and it’s one of my fondest bike memories. And it made me realize how much I’d like to do another S24O soon.

What about you? Do you have any favorite S24O rides that you’ve done or would like to do? Please share your experiences or ideas in the comments section below.

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4 thoughts on “A good book. Also, overnight bike trips are fun.”

      1. Late response… but I remember reading the section about being slightly unpredictable when vehicles are passing and thinking, ‘huh, actually I already do that just a little subconsciously’. When I heard or saw a vehicle approaching I to tended to sit up straighter, wiggle around or swerve just a bit to make sure the driver saw me. That’s all. The book was rad. I appreciated all of it whether I agreed with it or not, I felt like he was a logical writer.

      2. Interesting that you were already doing it–the book made me start doing it in certain situations. Before I would always squeeze over as much as possible and try to hold a straight line so cars could get by. Petersen’s book made me rethink this behavior. Now I look back and swerve–just a little–in areas where it’s safe to do so. It seems to work. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

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