Grant Petersen – “Short Rides Beat Long Rides”.

Rivendell Chief Administers Dose Of Performance Enhancing Common Sense To Cyclists.

18 Jan 2013  |  Posted by GARETH  |  Categories: Friends, Monthly highlights


Grant Petersen has some timely things to say about competitive riding. (Photo Reno Rambler)

The 2013 Brooks Bugle will soon be ready for dispatch. It promises to contain a breadth and scope of material unattained by any of our previous Bugles. And that’s saying something, we’re sure you’ll agree.

Of the several excellent contributions we received from various luminaries of the world of cycling, we were perhaps most excited to have something for this year’s Bugle from Rivendell’s Grant Petersen.

The renowned designer of lugged steel classics such as the Bridgestone XO-1, and the Rivendell Hunqapillar has been kind enough to relate in our coming Bugle the story behind his new book “Just Ride”, but not before he sketched out some other possible topics for us.

One of which we are pleased to reproduce for our readers below…


The most underrated ride in all of cycling is the shortie, the opposite-of-epic neighbourhood ride that beats walking but doesn’t make you sweat or hurt. The kind of ride kids and non-cyclists do out of need; the kind of ride you gave up when you got serious and came under the influence of racing.

The shortie gets ignored at best and dissed at worst because it doesn’t require the expensive bike or specialty clothing, shoes, and safety gear you’ve already invested in. You don’t get to dress like a warrior for it. And most of all, it’s not painful or even uncomfortable, so it must not count.

We are so under the influence of pro racing that the further from racing a ride is, the less respect we tend to accord it. The physiological myth behind this disrespect is that hard, grueling, long and painful rides are good for you; that when you recover from them, your heart is stronger, your arteries clearer, your overall physiology supercharged, rebuilt, and ready for another even harder effort.

Bullshit. Hard rides to nowhere and back (HRNB) build mental toughness for more HRNB’s. They hone your body into a degree of efficiency that can’t be achieved on short rides, but those “benefits” are of little use outside of competition, and come at great cost. Is it healthy to ride that long and hard? This isn’t a scientific paper, but let me make a few observations worth chewing on:


The famous Rivendell Sam Hillborne with a Brooks B17 on top.

Sustained, high-effort aerobics are unheard of among wild animals, which are rarely fat, and common among humans who do them to avoid fat. (Often in vain.)

The best-looking bodies in any Olympics are the sprinters, gymnasts, and other athletes in high-intensity/short duration events. Not the marathoners, or cyclists.

HRNB’s, like endurance swims, don’t shed poundage. They burn calories, but you eat them back on. Nobody can operate in a caloric deficit for long.

HRNB’s turn riding your bike into a job, a chore, a way to maintain your reputation or your standing in a peer group of other HRNB fans.

If you are in love with HRNB’s, ignore this. But if you’re trapped in a cycle of HRNB and are looking for escape, then wear some normal clothing and go on a two-to-five miler around the neighbourhood. Marvel at the efficiency of rolling wheels, imagine how hard it would be to run that fast for that long, and pay attention to things other than your speed and mileage and the wheel in front of yours.

 

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13 Comments

  1. Jane 
    Posted 4:22 pm
    18 Jan 2013

    Can’t wait to bust out the Rivendell Betty Foy (complete with Brooksie saddle) tomorrow for a jaunt to the yarn shop, fish shop, public library, and food co-op.

  2. zbicyclist 
    Posted 6:10 pm
    18 Jan 2013

    A nice ride to the train station in the morning/evening is still a nice ride, however short and slow.

  3. _Non_ Optional 
    Posted 9:03 pm
    18 Jan 2013

    Thank you, Grant. I think you have the healthiest attitude among the major bicycling spokespeople. Best All Rounder.

  4. Charlie Greenwood 
    Posted 12:57 am
    19 Jan 2013

    Did a long, hard ride on a 1955 Rudge Roadster last Fall. 108 miles around Lake Coeur d’Alene. Built up to it by climbing Steptoe Butte and then Mt. Spokane along with some other longs rides on my road bike.

    The Rudge has a B-73 for a saddle. I’ve put the same saddle on my road bike and mountain bike because they’re so comfortable.

  5. Grant Petersen 
    Posted 1:36 am
    19 Jan 2013

    There’s a typo in “neighborhood.”

  6. Keith Spangler 
    Posted 8:32 am
    19 Jan 2013

    I find myself in the “middle” at this time in my bicycling hobby. I must agree with Grant though, that I personally enjoy the non-warrior outfit and less stress of my local riding. I purchased a Surly Long Haul Trucker several years ago and introduced myself to commuting and touring. Now on my second LHT, which I had custom powder coated, I log more than 90 percent of my bike rides on this fender, steel machine. It (the LHT) loves weight and the challenge of roads or trails. The extra gears allows it to climb like a mountain goat and it has enough storage place for everything. Enough said, I also love my two F. Moser Italian machines too. They love speed and they look good too ~ girls love them!

    Thanks Grant!

  7. Tony Colegrave 
    Posted 11:13 am
    20 Jan 2013

    What on earth’s the point of the second top tube on that Hillborne bike.

  8. Ozonation 
    Posted 3:18 am
    22 Jan 2013

    The second tube adds stiffness and strength. I have a Hillborne. It’s great.

  9. Jim 
    Posted 3:12 am
    26 Jan 2013

    “neighbourhood” is correct

  10. John McCarty 
    Posted 3:31 pm
    28 Jan 2013

    I am really attracted to Grant’s siren call to have fun with cycling and not getting into intense training rituals for the sake of peer approval.

    Fact is, I like to take long rides on light bikes, dress in tight pants that look like I am wearing depends and sport colorful garbs. I enjoy moderately paced rides with fellow club members where you can ride into the country and share thoughts and experiences.

    I also like the short rides without the cycling gear, rides to check mail at the post office, rides around the campground or rides along the rails to trails paths. The answer is having larger garages and more bikes!

  11. GARETH 
    Posted 5:33 pm
    28 Jan 2013

    Thanks, Jim. Hold the line!

  12. AnotherJim 
    Posted 3:50 pm
    2 Mar 2013

    The second top tube is for looks and marketing. If the joints will hold, then the second tube isn’t adding anything but weight. We’ve seen pictures of failed joints, but they are rare; lateral flex is small; and the advantage of a high degree of rigidity is purely anecdotal, exploited by manufacturers for marketing purposes. So there.

  13. BREGAN 
    Posted 11:10 am
    5 Mar 2013

    Grant’s a Yank.