A batch of thoughts and things I’ve learned off the top of my head, many inspired by Grant Petersen’s Just Ride and Bicycle Sentences, which have a kind of punk, unfussy ethos that meshes with my own:
1. If you’re new to biking, just go to the bike shop and try out some bikes and buy whatever’s in your budget. Don’t fuss over it too much. After six months of riding you’ll know what you really need and want.
2. Better to ride up a hill than to ride into the wind. You’ll overtake the hill eventually, but you can’t overtake the wind. Also: Everywhere seems flat until you try to bike it. There is no flat. (Kevin Kelly said this to me.)
3. Get a basket or a pannier. I always ride with one of my bags now. You never know what you’ll want to pick up when you’re out riding. Biking is this perfect pace between walking and driving — you take in more than you would walking, but it’s still easy to spot things and stop and investigate.
4. Start a bike gang. It will make you happy. Easiest way to do this is start riding regularly — taking off at the same time and place — with one other person. Pretty soon you’ll have a gang. Give your bike gang a stupid name. My bike gang is called The Turtles, because our sensei, Hank, aka Master Splinter, who is 75, always says, “Off like a herd of turtles!”
5. A two-hour ride is plenty long. Anything longer than that is vanity and wankery and needs to be broken up with lunch or beers. Better for a ride to be too short than too long.
6. If your friend asks you if you want to ride, drop everything, if you can, and go out. Always worth it. Some of the best rides I’ve had were with my pal Marty in the middle of the afternoon when we probably should’ve been working.
7. I don’t know what it is about men, but two men can ride and have an intimate conversation with each other, but 3 quickly becomes a locker room, somehow, unless somebody’s being left out. (I like to ride in the back when we have 3, it’s like having ambient chatter and camaraderie, but I can withdraw into my thoughts a bit.) Even numbers, like 4 riders, means you can pair up and have conversations.
8. Keep a bike that you can hop on without much fuss so you can go out for short rides whenever you want. It’s nice to have a simple, fun, extra toy-like bike for errands and joy rides.
9. Look out for dogs, children, and Lexuses. All wildly unpredictable.
10. Riding a bicycle is a beautiful paradox — it requires you to become one with the machine while also making you feel more human.
I probably have more that I’ll remember the minute I hit “publish” on this post, but that feels like enough for now.
Nobody said it better than Mark Twain: “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.”
My bike gang calls ourselves “The Turtles” so this is extra meaningful to me ? ? https://t.co/sLUHtz1IuG
— Austin Kleon (@austinkleon) March 27, 2023