Recommended Reads: Bicycle memoir an exciting ride across America

going placesGoing Somewhere: A Bicycle Journey Across America, by Brian Benson

This memoir will take you on an exciting ride from small town Wisconsin to Portland, Ore. Brian is a young man with lots of energy and little direction. In a small Mexican town, adventuring Brian met Rachel. They shared a love of music, and a sense of daring. They decided on a long bike ride together, from Brian’s home in Wisconsin, to Rachel’s home in Portland. Young love is a very strong bond, but is it strong enough to endure the bumps in the road on a 60-day, 2,428-mile bike ride?

The personality differences between Brian and Rachel are evident from the start, and magnified along the route. Brian admires Rachel’s self-confidence and resourcefulness, wishing he had some of Rachel’s strengths in his own personality. The two enjoy a joyfulness, and humor that helps them often along their route. They begin the journey on a carefree note, although Brian ponderously wonders to himself how the journey will end.

Hanging over the arrival in Portland is a decision about the future. About their future. They are traveling away from Brian’s home and the life he knows, and toward Rachel’s life. Will he want to stay and make a life with Rachel there? He often wonders what “awaits us out there.”

You may recognize towns and areas they ride through, but it’s a different perspective to see these places for the first time on a bike. Brian’s descriptions are vivid and are wrapped in his emotional life outlook. The sights you’re treated to include nature, small towns, highways, trails, and each in its way are beautiful and interesting. Brian notes with laughter the small towns that are self declared extremes or capitals such as the Malting Barley Capitol of the world.

The elements they contend with, and the bike mechanics required propel the story as well. But most engaging are the many friendly and giving people along the way. These strangers are so curious about the journey, and always wanting to talk or lend a helping hand if needed. So many of the people they meet opened their homes for a meal, or their yards for an impromptu overnight camp. You’ll enjoy the stories of the bike journey, and the couple’s relationship, but you’ll also enjoy these brief glimpses into the lives of the people they meet along the way.

One person’s quote struck a chord with Brian, “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body. But rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride.’”

Do they make the full journey to Portland? How does their journey end?

Thereby hangs a tale . . . .

Wendy Kendall
Wendy Kendall

– By Wendy Kendall

Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager and volunteer at the Edmonds Library. Follow her via her blog here or on Twitter @wendywrites1.

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