You are not Lance Armstrong (and if you are, you’re retired).

This is a review of Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike.

Thank goodness Grant Petersen wrote this! I used to race. I know what fancy racing equipment is good for. It can be fun. But for novices (and actually most experienced riders) it’s crazy to believe that emulating Lance Armstrong is a good idea.

When you walk into a typical bike shop, you’re assaulted with a riot of absurdities. I once asked a guy in a bike shop in Kansas about the 3rd chain rings on the bikes they were selling. A 3rd chain ring is usually a great idea for most people in most places, but in a completely flat state, it highlighted the thoughtless adherence to current bicycle fads. Bike shops are filled with the latest racing accessories which, for most people, are not only not worth it, they are worse than just doing without.

I can’t say that I agree with Petersen’s nutritional strategies, though I don’t necessarily disagree with them. The one thing I did disagree with was his thoughts on gloves. I totally agree with him that fancy gloves to look like a racer are probably a waste, but having tested dozens of bike crashing strategies personally, I now believe that gloves prevent more injuries than helmets (but less important ones!). When people fall, their natural instinct is to put out their hands. If your hands are getting eaten by a meat grinder, however, the natural instinct is to retract the hands. By having gloves on during a crash, you can use your hands in the way you would naturally falling at slower (walking) speeds, the way your instincts were designed. But his point is that if you don’t want to complicate the cycling experience with lots of exotic and expensive equipment, then don’t. However if you’re a nervous novice and are worried about crashing, buy some cheap gloves. In cool weather, I use mechanics gloves from the hardware store for $10. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

This book is packed with absolute good sense. It is incredibly refreshing. I hope everyone who works at a bike shop reads this. I hope everyone who ever talks to women about cycling reads this. Twice.