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Bike To Work Day: Your Photos, And Riding Advice From Grant Petersen

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Bike To Work Day: Your Photos, And Riding Advice From Grant Petersen


Bike To Work Day: Your Photos, And Riding Advice From Grant Petersen

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Today is Bike to Work Day, and we thought that was a fitting moment to check in with long-time cyclist and bike shop owner Grant Petersen to get some tips for everyday riders. He has written a book called "Just Ride." Grant, good morning.

GRANT PETERSEN: Good morning, David.

GREENE: For people who either bike to work, commute to work every day on bikes or thinking about getting a bike and doing that, I mean, what are a few pieces of advice that you'd like to offer?

PETERSEN: Wear the clothes that you're going to wear at work. Don't dress up like an American bike geek just to ride a bicycle to work. If your commute is reasonable, say 10 miles or under, dress the way you're going to dress for the weather or the day.

GREENE: You're saying that if I wear a suit to work, I'm better off just biking in my suit? Why is that?

PETERSEN: Bicycle riding doesn't make a lot of demands on your body. Your upper body is still when you're riding, and just - your legs are just turning around in small, little circles. I'm not saying that every article in your clothing closet is going to be suitable for bicycle riding to work. The suits may be a little bit more of a challenge, but they aren't that much of a challenge. Or just take off the suit, carry it in a basket or something.

GREENE: And we should say that in the biking world you have a reputation for yourself as having views like this, that some of the newer stuff is just not all that necessary. I mean, is that still a debate raging in the biking world, whether it's worth it to get this aerodynamic stuff?

PETERSEN: There shouldn't be any debate at all. Riding a bicycle should be just a natural part of your life. It's so easy. We are the only ones - as, I guess, an American - we are generally the only ones who commute to work in racing clothing. Where's the room for debate about how ridiculous that is?

GREENE: You also make an argument in your book that expensive bikes are not always as necessary as one might think. I mean, every time I've thought about, you know, do I want a bike, I often worry that it's going to be way too expensive. How little could I spend on a bike and actually have something that I could ride each day to work?

PETERSEN: Places that sell used bikes often have perfectly good ones for $100. But on a new bike, three or $400 on a bicycle and get a perfectly good bicycle for commuting and riding around.

GREENE: Well, and Grant, you make the point that too many people out there try to force themselves to be racers, to get these bikes with all these speeds, to get all the bells and whistles.

PETERSEN: Yeah. Well, racing is presented to us as the goal that we should all aspire to, and I totally don't believe that. Racing is fringe. Racing ruins bicycle riding for a lot of people. They think that, well, I've been riding a bike for a few years. It's time for me to get a racing bike, get the clothes, get the click-in shoes and start not having fun on a bike. And it ends up being a big trap. And I was trapped in that for 20, 22 years, probably.

GREENE: Well, I want to take your little quiz here at the end of your book. You're asking people if they're a racer or not a racer. It's a true/false quiz, and it says: My favorite bike can carry two pounds of broccoli and a big, thick sweater. And I'm going to go ahead and say that my favorite bike can carry that. Does that make me a racer?

PETERSEN: If it can, I would say no. You see, racing bikes are just workout machines, really. So you can't put baskets, you can't put bags on them. You can't carry weight on them. They aren't designed to carry weight. So...

GREENE: So if I have a basket that can carry broccoli, I shouldn't be ashamed of that. That's OK.

PETERSEN: Absolutely be proud of it.


GREENE: That's the voice of Grant Petersen. He is the founder of Rivendell Bicycle Works. Grant, thanks so much for joining us.

PETERSEN: Oh, thank you, David.

GREENE: And we are gathering photos inspired by Bike to Work Day. To find out how to share your own snapshots, you can go to

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