Oct 17

Life is a Wheel

By Kenneth Feucht books Add comments


Life is a Wheel, by Bruce Weber ★★★

This book was given to me by my brother Gaylon in order to inspire us to bicycle across the USA someday (soon?).  Bruce Weber is a journalist for the NY Times, and spends most of his time writing the obituaries. He rode his  bicycle across the USA in 1993 as a much younger kid, and now at age 58 has determined to attempt the task again. This time, he will be frequently visited by NY Times personnel to document his trip, and blow-by-blow accounts will be published in the Times.

He takes off from Astoria, riding south, then through the Columbia River valley, up through the Palouse, across Idaho, across Glacier National Park and then northern Montana and North Dakota, descending in Minnesota and Wisconsin into Chicago, boats across Lake Michigan and rides through Michigan down into Indiana and Ohio, slowly weaving his way back to home in New York City.

This book has some strong merit. It definitely put the bug in me to do a trans-America bicycle trip. He relates that as a limited cyclist, he was able to survive nicely during his three months on a bike on the road.

There is more that I disliked about the book than liked.

1. His choice of routes was often very strange, and much different from what I would have done. He spent much time backtracking and traveling in very un-interesting environments. The object of cycling is not to see if you could possibly put yourself to sleep while riding a bicycle.

2. I could tell within the first few pages that Weber was Jewish. I felt like I was reading a bicycling counterpart to Woody Allen, who constantly “somatacized” his problems, and used a shrink in order to resolve those matters. Bruce writes about his health and mental problems almost with a sense of indifference, which is liked by New Yorkers but deeply disliked by me.

3. The diversions from the bicycle riding story were deeply annoying. I didn’t care to spend a whole chapter on his good friend that just died. I wasn’t interested in two chapters of a stupid ride in Viet Nam. I didn’t care about learning in-depth details of mother and father, which didn’t seem to relate at all to the bicycle riding experience. Fortunately, Weber avoids politics for the most part,  but can’t help but suggesting that he is a flaming (and clueless) liberal.

The bottom line is that Weber has provided additional motivation for me to ride across the USA. He has also instructed me to avoid many of the paths that he has taken. He is not a person that I would wish to take a long trip with, or for that matter, even to become a close friend with him. I’m sure he feels the same way about me. Perhaps the book should have been titled “Life is all about me on a wheel”.

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3 Responses to “Life is a Wheel”

  1. Gaylon says:

    You articulated my opinion perfectly. This book started out like a good read but took a downhill turn real quick. I skipped over the eulogy and the other “soap opera” crap so I actually only read about half of it.

  2. Onkel Dennis says:

    Biking (or walking) across America is “old hat”. Why not contemplate something outside that worn box: a Washington (or for Gaylon, an Oregon) to Cayo, Belize bike trip!

    Hey, don’t reject the idea prematurely.

    Ride down to Roseburg, then east to the Alvord Desert and Denio, NV (used to be Denio, OR), then down through space alien land, cutting eastward through NE AZ and across the north end of the NM rocket range, through Roswell, then down through Texas, maybe visit Karen and Stephe, then to Laredo. Cross at Laredo, continue to Monterey, Victoria, Tampico, and straight down to Puebla, an old town that makes you feel you’re in Europe. Then west to Veracruz and the adventure begins: Minititlan, Coatacoalcos, and Villahermosa. Then east to Escarcega, the gateway to the Yucatan, across the Yucatan jungle to the border town of Chetumal. Ride down to the Belize border and we meet you there (or in Chetumal) and become your road escort to Cayo. In Belize, you are in a biker-friendly country. The main east-west road is devoted annually to a cross-country bike race of about 80 miles.

    The mountain scenery in Mexico is superb, the Mexican roads are generally quite good, food and lodging costs less than in the USA, there are numerous new, underutilized campgrounds, and the Mexicans are helpful. (The Green Angels patrol the roads for downed motorists – or bikers.) The jungle adventure across the Yucatan has got to be an experience that rivals anything you would encounter in the US.

    Give it a thought. Mexico is a developed country. They even have bike parts.

  3. Stephen Chambers says:

    Sounds good Dennis, we’d be happy to have them stay with us in Austin!

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