Book Review: Ride Your Way Lean

Recently I responded to an e-mail offer and ordered a book called Ride Your Way Lean, written by Selene Yeager and the editors of Bicycling Magazine, and published by Rodale, publisher of Prevention, Women’s Health and Men’s Health, among others. It was a risk-free offer, only $19.99 plus shipping, returnable if I decided it wasn’t for me within a 30-day trial period.

Is it for me? I’m still not sure, although¬†I kept it, because (a) it wan’t that much money; and (b) as successful direct marketers count on, it’s a bit of a bother to re-package an item and take it to the post office before the deadline. To save others the bother, I will share my opinions as I attempt to ride my way lean.

First, the criticism. I believe in identifying the audience and speaking to its needs, but this book is all over the place in terms of whether it is written for a serious recreational cyclist who wants to get better, or an overweight person thinking about getting into biking. I can guarantee that neither person wants to read the parts written for the other. For example, early on the book explains the difference between mountain and road bikes and advises the use of padded shorts, but a few pages later gets into a discussion of cadence and METS. The former makes most cyclists say, “duh,” while the latter will have newbies saying, “huh?”

On one hand, she touts the fun and emotional benefits of getting outdoors and riding a bike as a sure way to burn calories and lose weight. Then she points out that you will be more successful with a structured plan. I kept looking for the specific plan that would tell me how much to ride, what to eat on days that I ride, and menu plans for non-riding days. Instead, the nutritional side comes mostly from another Rodale book, The Flat Belly Diet, which I’ve read and recommend, but not every cyclist will have that background.

The cycling plan consists of three options, depending on whether you want to lose a lot of weight, a medium amount of weight, or just “shed the stubborn spare tire.” (Yeah, that’s me.) The timing and intensity vary, but all three consist of doing at least an hour of intervals, six days a week for nine weeks. As much as I enjoy cycling, I just don’t have it in my schedule six days a week.

Another complaint: the intervals chart (below) is confusing and hard to remember on the road. What am I supposed to do, write it on my hand?

Another inconsistency: Yeager says that she doesn’t like to “pedal aimlessly on a bike to nowhere,” and makes other references to not needing a gym membership, but there’s a section devoted to indoor trainers. Although riding indoors makes sense when you can’t count on the weather or daylight for an actual ride, not many beginning or recreational riders own a trainer, so going to a gym becomes necessary.

A trainer and a heart-rate monitor are investments I’ve yet to make. Both would be beneficial, but I resist making something that’s fun into something so serious. This book attempts both, telling you to have fun on your bike, but suggesting you need to get serious if you want to improve or lose weight.

So, I’m conflicted. As much as I’ve criticized the book, I believe it does have good information. I will post updates as I work my way though it.

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