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IT SEEMED A TERRIBLE SHAME TO MEET MY END IN IOWA; I couldn’t imagine anywhere more disappointing to die. If I were a betting man I’d have reckoned on the most dangerous thing in this state being sheer boredom. The scenery hadn’t changed for weeks and I was slowly dissolving into stimulation-deprived madness. My current predicament, then – attempting to escape through corn IT SEEMED A TERRIBLE SHAME TO MEET MY END IN IOWA; I couldn’t imagine anywhere more disappointing to die. If I were a betting man I’d have reckoned on the most dangerous thing in this state being sheer boredom. The scenery hadn’t changed for weeks and I was slowly dissolving into stimulation-deprived madness. My current predicament, then – attempting to escape through cornfields from a gun-toting alcohol-soaked rancher – was not something I expected. Just months after graduating from university, Leon received disastrous news: he had been offered a job. Terrified at the prospect of a life spent behind a desk, without challenge or adventure, he took off to cross America on an overloaded bicycle packed with everything but common sense. Over five months and 6,000 miles, Leon cycled from New York to Seattle and then on to the Mexican border, facing tornados, swollen river crossings and one hungry black bear along the way. But he also met kind strangers who offered their food, wisdom, hospitality and even the occasional local history lesson, and learned what happens when you take a chance and follow the scent of adventure.


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IT SEEMED A TERRIBLE SHAME TO MEET MY END IN IOWA; I couldn’t imagine anywhere more disappointing to die. If I were a betting man I’d have reckoned on the most dangerous thing in this state being sheer boredom. The scenery hadn’t changed for weeks and I was slowly dissolving into stimulation-deprived madness. My current predicament, then – attempting to escape through corn IT SEEMED A TERRIBLE SHAME TO MEET MY END IN IOWA; I couldn’t imagine anywhere more disappointing to die. If I were a betting man I’d have reckoned on the most dangerous thing in this state being sheer boredom. The scenery hadn’t changed for weeks and I was slowly dissolving into stimulation-deprived madness. My current predicament, then – attempting to escape through cornfields from a gun-toting alcohol-soaked rancher – was not something I expected. Just months after graduating from university, Leon received disastrous news: he had been offered a job. Terrified at the prospect of a life spent behind a desk, without challenge or adventure, he took off to cross America on an overloaded bicycle packed with everything but common sense. Over five months and 6,000 miles, Leon cycled from New York to Seattle and then on to the Mexican border, facing tornados, swollen river crossings and one hungry black bear along the way. But he also met kind strangers who offered their food, wisdom, hospitality and even the occasional local history lesson, and learned what happens when you take a chance and follow the scent of adventure.

30 review for The Road Headed West: America Coast to Coast: A Cycling Odyssey

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    For some people, the offer of a job with a regular salary is just what they are looking for. For Leon McCarron though the thought of being stuck behind a desk with no chance of adventure or seeing the world, filled him with dread. As he was in New York, he came up with the idea of cycling from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, not for any reason, just for the hell of doing it. Loading up his bike and trailer with much, much more than he needed, he embarks on his 6000 mile journey. A week or so For some people, the offer of a job with a regular salary is just what they are looking for. For Leon McCarron though the thought of being stuck behind a desk with no chance of adventure or seeing the world, filled him with dread. As he was in New York, he came up with the idea of cycling from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, not for any reason, just for the hell of doing it. Loading up his bike and trailer with much, much more than he needed, he embarks on his 6000 mile journey. A week or so later he was still cycling in New York state, as he hadn’t realised just how vast it was. Slowly but surely he was building his fitness up but getting around 80 miles a day under his belt. He meets other cyclists as he wends his way across the States, sharing the journey and beginning what were to become lasting friendships. A brief detour into Canada to see Niagara Fall was soured when he returned into America and was detained by a very officious immigration official. They did allow him back after a chastisement about documentation. As he drops into the Midwest he passes mile after mile of cornfields on the almost dead straight roads, the highlight of the day being the zigzags when they correct the roads for the curvature of the earth. All across America so far, he had been given a warm welcome and helped by strangers in all manner of ways. This was to change when he accepted hospitality from a guy in a bar and headed back to his ranch. His mate was there and wasn’t best pleased to see Leon, and after one heart stopping moment he has to escape really quickly. Of all the places to die in the world, he didn’t want it to be Iowa! Hoping to eek out his journey on a budget of $5 a day, he is fuelled by peanut butter and an absence of common sense. It is an easy and relative unchallenging read, with a certain charm to it. What is does show is that you do not need loads of planning or training to achieve a goal, sometimes you just need to climb on the bike and pedal. This one is a worthy addition to the fold of cycling adventure books.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    An honest recount by Leon McCarron's of his bike ride across North America. It is an inspiring journey which he took after feeling disconected in a 9 to 5 job. The book details all the ups and downs of his journey, from being confronted by a gun weilding drunken to the many friendships he forged on the road. A brilliant read of an incredible journey, which I highly recommend. An honest recount by Leon McCarron's of his bike ride across North America. It is an inspiring journey which he took after feeling disconected in a 9 to 5 job. The book details all the ups and downs of his journey, from being confronted by a gun weilding drunken to the many friendships he forged on the road. A brilliant read of an incredible journey, which I highly recommend.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Ach! A compendium of how not to do a long-distance bicycle ride: * ride to Coney Island and back as conditioning * start with a hangover * head out of town on a bridge that's closed on Sunday * take no maps * ride across the continent into the prevailing winds (and then repeat going south along the West Coast) * over-pack, including hauling a trailer * have no experience in bicycle maintenance * head for Canada without a visa (the author's Irish) * not know how to pack a propane bottle to prevent it from Ach! A compendium of how not to do a long-distance bicycle ride: * ride to Coney Island and back as conditioning * start with a hangover * head out of town on a bridge that's closed on Sunday * take no maps * ride across the continent into the prevailing winds (and then repeat going south along the West Coast) * over-pack, including hauling a trailer * have no experience in bicycle maintenance * head for Canada without a visa (the author's Irish) * not know how to pack a propane bottle to prevent it from out-gassing And the author's not even curious about who he sees and where he's been. When he gets nears the Cascade mountains he writes, "In Leavenworth, a Washington town inexplicably modeled on a Bavarian village ..." Just about anyone in the Seattle area can tell you how Leavenworth decided consciously to use the Bavarian theme to accentuate the area's mountain sports when the fruit business declined in prosperity. Even if you didn't talk to locals, Wikipedia will tell you the story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tuck

    an interesting bike travel book in that author is total rookie bike rider, going from nyc to seattle, he makes it too! and ends up then going to mexico, then ends up thesiger-like, trekking all over the globe, from empty quarter, to iran's longest river, to gobi on foot. this bike book written retrospectively, gains from his insights into fear, grabbing your dreams and not letting go, and putting history, geography, sociology, into perspective, but loses in day-to-day immediacy and the 'typical' an interesting bike travel book in that author is total rookie bike rider, going from nyc to seattle, he makes it too! and ends up then going to mexico, then ends up thesiger-like, trekking all over the globe, from empty quarter, to iran's longest river, to gobi on foot. this bike book written retrospectively, gains from his insights into fear, grabbing your dreams and not letting go, and putting history, geography, sociology, into perspective, but loses in day-to-day immediacy and the 'typical' journal of an epic bike ride...but still entertaining and a fast read. nice illustrations from his aunt (graphic novelist style) and a map, but no photos in book. has some appendix of how-to and what to read. but to seem how this author bloomed from film studies global crisis unemployed graduate to intrepid adventurer be sure and check out his website for great images and further insight into this irish traveler and chronicler of usa people and places (canada too, for a good contrast) https://www.leonmccarron.com/

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    I enjoyed this book, cover to cover. Oh to be 23 and Irish and biking across the U.S.A., with life and the world before me! I had a number of laugh-out-loud moments. This is not the tale of someone who trained for years (or even minutes!) for this adventure, just the tale of someone who sort of stumbled into this ride while waiting for the recession to recede. In the end, this ride launched what appears to be--to date--a successful career. I look forward to finding more by this author.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stan Blackburn

    Leon has an amazing sense of adventure throughout his documented bike ride across America. This book reminds me of 'Into the Wild,' 'Travels with Charley,' and 'A Walk in the Woods,' all books I love. Reading this in smaller pieces (20-25 pages at a time) seemed to work best for me, digesting bits and pieces of Leon's travels and insightful wisdom along the journey. Leon has an amazing sense of adventure throughout his documented bike ride across America. This book reminds me of 'Into the Wild,' 'Travels with Charley,' and 'A Walk in the Woods,' all books I love. Reading this in smaller pieces (20-25 pages at a time) seemed to work best for me, digesting bits and pieces of Leon's travels and insightful wisdom along the journey.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Madalene

    I'll admit it, I loved this book. As others have noted, the author didn't prepare well for a cross-country bike ride, and didn't know that much about bikes for the duration. But I'm OK with the democratization of bike touring, and really appreciate the open attitude that develops with the practice of it. The chapters are short, and except for the oddly positioned first story, are chronological. There's some inconsistencies, such as when he determines he wants to ride alone after riding with Suzi I'll admit it, I loved this book. As others have noted, the author didn't prepare well for a cross-country bike ride, and didn't know that much about bikes for the duration. But I'm OK with the democratization of bike touring, and really appreciate the open attitude that develops with the practice of it. The chapters are short, and except for the oddly positioned first story, are chronological. There's some inconsistencies, such as when he determines he wants to ride alone after riding with Suzie, but then spending most of the rest of the ride with 3-4 guys. But for the most part, I get some of the same feeling as one gets with books like "Travels with Charley" or "Blue Highways" (the latter being one of the best USA travelogues out there). And he finishes with a reminder that anyone can get out there and do this, it doesn't take a lot of specialized equipment or a specific discipline about how the ride will go. An enjoyable bike travelogue. For a newer take on riding cross country, I recommend finding "Ryan and Ali Bike Across America" also known as #lovecycles on youtube. Their incredibly positive and well-edited trip is a fun watch!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Ebersole

    An accurate account of cross contry I also rode cross country in 2002. I found this book to be a very accurate account of my personal growth and development along the journey. You begin a trip of this scope with a lot of uncertainty, first it is just can I physically do this but once you realize you can you begin finding out other things about what really matters to you. Your values. It is an amazing privilege to take 50 or more days and do just one thing (other than work) . Through out the day t An accurate account of cross contry I also rode cross country in 2002. I found this book to be a very accurate account of my personal growth and development along the journey. You begin a trip of this scope with a lot of uncertainty, first it is just can I physically do this but once you realize you can you begin finding out other things about what really matters to you. Your values. It is an amazing privilege to take 50 or more days and do just one thing (other than work) . Through out the day there is time for reflection. You are disconnected from any sort of set routine. This gives one a great sense that there are many more possibilities out there for those willing to seek them. Bottom line read the book take the journey you won't regret it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    This reminded me a bit of Bill Bryson's A WALK IN THE WOODS, in that the author is not really prepared for such a grueling physical feat but perseveres anyway. Unfortunately, it lacks the writing skills and humor of Bryson but it is still an interesting read for anyone who can't get enough of this kind of travel narrative. If a reader wants to read a good armchair biking adventure and hasn't read Barbara Savage's MILES FROM NOWHERE or Bruce Weber's LIFE IS A WHEEL, I recommend reading them first This reminded me a bit of Bill Bryson's A WALK IN THE WOODS, in that the author is not really prepared for such a grueling physical feat but perseveres anyway. Unfortunately, it lacks the writing skills and humor of Bryson but it is still an interesting read for anyone who can't get enough of this kind of travel narrative. If a reader wants to read a good armchair biking adventure and hasn't read Barbara Savage's MILES FROM NOWHERE or Bruce Weber's LIFE IS A WHEEL, I recommend reading them first.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Fellows

    I initially liked the sense of adventure by someone who appeared to just do it. About half way through it began to disturb me how little he author was interested in the places he would be traveling through. The author seemed to be traveling almost out of spite of having anything else to do. He rides because why not. The book seemed to be more about is emotional journey to find purpose and honestly his riding the bike across the country is really more about killing time in some way for him. Not w I initially liked the sense of adventure by someone who appeared to just do it. About half way through it began to disturb me how little he author was interested in the places he would be traveling through. The author seemed to be traveling almost out of spite of having anything else to do. He rides because why not. The book seemed to be more about is emotional journey to find purpose and honestly his riding the bike across the country is really more about killing time in some way for him. Not what I was hoping it would be.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Dutton

    This is a story of the development of a personal philosophy, wrapped in the journal of a cross-country bicycle adventure. This book really spoke to me as someone planning to ride a bicycle tour this summer. A lot of the philosophy rings true with me. I'm not sure why this book doesn't have better reviews. Yes, the author makes a number of beginner mistakes and some questionable gear choices. This isn't a how-to book for bicycle touring, it's a personal memoir. The pages flew by and I was a bit s This is a story of the development of a personal philosophy, wrapped in the journal of a cross-country bicycle adventure. This book really spoke to me as someone planning to ride a bicycle tour this summer. A lot of the philosophy rings true with me. I'm not sure why this book doesn't have better reviews. Yes, the author makes a number of beginner mistakes and some questionable gear choices. This isn't a how-to book for bicycle touring, it's a personal memoir. The pages flew by and I was a bit sad to see it end. I've captured these quotes below from the book that highlight my takeaways. The thirst for adventure is to a large degree selfish. The life we lead shapes us in ways that are maybe not always apparent immediately. If we can predict how every second of every day of our life will be, then where is the fun in living it out? We cannot ever be fully in control of that which is around us. The best we can hope for is to react positively to life's storms. So often it is that reward lies in the hunt or the journey, rather than the discovery or destination. The real beauty to be found is in exactly the places where other people do not gather. To truly find what is worth seeking we must travel to the lesser-known spots, taking on the challenges that confront us to get there. This is my rite of passage. I will allow it to be a good, comfortable road until I am compelled to believe otherwise. The true significance may often be visible only through the lens of retrospection. There's always benefit to be had in remembering how far we have come. I should spend more time with the things and the people that I love. No point in working all your life till you die, and then wondering what happened to the stuff that's important to you. Maybe compromise is not such a bad thing after all. I felt I was distilling the most important elements of life for me. Freedom seemed key. Adventure--the sense of challenge and unpredictability--was necessary too. And love--I missed that. Boys, be ambitious. Be ambitious not for money, not for selfish aggrandizement, not for the evanescent thing which men call fame. Be ambitious for the attainment of all that a man can be. William S. Clark Only by consistently raising the bar would I know how high I could go. There is so much in life that can only be communicated in person, through contact and being able to look into someone's eyes as you speak to them. I am the person I am, for better or worse, because of the decisions I made and make and the things I do. Only by facing the fear can we conquer it. Embrace fear, embrace change, grasp opportunity. Commit, go… and don't stop. I think solo travel offers the greatest rewards in terms of personal development.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Dyson Eitelman

    Spinningly good adventure told by an Irishman cycling across America. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out things the natives overlook or ignore out of habit, and Mr. Mccaron was just outsider enough to do the job. Great job! Other than an oddness about the ending, which I'll be considerate and not reveal to you here, I enjoyed every single page. Personalities abound--old friends, trail friends, traveling and stationary friends--they all make their appearances and enliven the journey. It's Spinningly good adventure told by an Irishman cycling across America. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out things the natives overlook or ignore out of habit, and Mr. Mccaron was just outsider enough to do the job. Great job! Other than an oddness about the ending, which I'll be considerate and not reveal to you here, I enjoyed every single page. Personalities abound--old friends, trail friends, traveling and stationary friends--they all make their appearances and enliven the journey. It's occasionally hilarious. I highly recommend it for anyone who loves to travel and happens to be stuck in place for a while. Is biking really the best way to experience a country? He thinks so--or at least he thought so at the time. But his rather excellent blog https://www.leonmccarron.com/journal talks about walking a lot, so maybe he changed his mind. In this book he's comparing biking to driving, and biking, of course, wins. He gets to experience the rolling hills, the rain, the heat, the look and feel of the country in a way that an automobile traveler never can. There's a lot of difference between cruising with rolled-up windows at seventy miles per hour and pedaling all day over broken terrain. Seventy miles is a whole day--and a fast day at that. But what about walking? Or running, or horseback riding? On a bike you're restricted to paved roads or at least have a strong preference for them. (Excepting the occasional river crossing when the bridge is out--exciting scene!) On a bike you spend a lot of time looking straight ahead or down at the road, watching for rocks, gravel, and misplaced curbs. When you're breezing along at ten miles per hour, are you going to freeze in place when a fox is glimpsed in the forest edge? Are you even going to glimpse of the fox? What about the bugs and lizards and odd arrangements of limbs of a dead oak tree in the field? Don't get me wrong--I'd love to bike across the country. But there's a lot to be said for walking. I'm going to spend the rest of the day reading his blog. But I might take a walk first.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I got more than 50 and less than 100 pages into this, the stopped. The Irish author endeavors to ride across the country, east to west, and then describes it in this memoir. Fine - I read "cyclist travel" books often enough. Somehow these days however I find it harder to enjoy ones ones written by persons from other countries (AKA "foreigners") about their travails in America. And that I guess is the problem - too much about travails, and not much about insights that are useful at this time. It I got more than 50 and less than 100 pages into this, the stopped. The Irish author endeavors to ride across the country, east to west, and then describes it in this memoir. Fine - I read "cyclist travel" books often enough. Somehow these days however I find it harder to enjoy ones ones written by persons from other countries (AKA "foreigners") about their travails in America. And that I guess is the problem - too much about travails, and not much about insights that are useful at this time. It certainly isn't as though they are telling us anything new in most cases. Books from the public library usually are in a small competition for my attention. After an initial effort to get into this, it just sat. I finally realized my lack of enthusiasm for picking it up (and picking up and finishing several other books instead) was a message telling me it was time to return this one to the library. Oh well, this is mostly about me, I suspect. You might like this sort of thing. The writing is breezy enough. The type font is big and even though it is over pages, it would be a quick read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I really liked this book and the author's attitude about his journey. Mccarronwho was underemployed during the 2008 recession, decided to bike across North America, not in a race but for the experience of meeting new people and seeing new places. But he was mindful of his journey and rarely went out of his way to tourist spots and met some deadlines. It is too bad because I think he missed cross country bike trails.Oh well. He makes minor errors as a non American would (refers to Philadelphia wh I really liked this book and the author's attitude about his journey. Mccarronwho was underemployed during the 2008 recession, decided to bike across North America, not in a race but for the experience of meeting new people and seeing new places. But he was mindful of his journey and rarely went out of his way to tourist spots and met some deadlines. It is too bad because I think he missed cross country bike trails.Oh well. He makes minor errors as a non American would (refers to Philadelphia when he means Pennsylvania or Minneapolis is the capital) He uses British spellings and Irish slang but that's the author's voice and adds to the fun. I look forward to reading more of his adventures.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    The last half of this book is great and lives up to its promise on the jacket to inspire me to ride more. The author introduces to book by saying he was riding to explore the middle of the country and get to know the US better. He admits to being a bit snobby and making assumptions and judgements about a place he'd never been. What we find out, though, is that he never really does learn to like midwesterners. He journey proves to him that the Midwest is just as bad as he thought. About halfway t The last half of this book is great and lives up to its promise on the jacket to inspire me to ride more. The author introduces to book by saying he was riding to explore the middle of the country and get to know the US better. He admits to being a bit snobby and making assumptions and judgements about a place he'd never been. What we find out, though, is that he never really does learn to like midwesterners. He journey proves to him that the Midwest is just as bad as he thought. About halfway through the book, he finally starts inching out of the Midwest and starts enjoying himself.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ocean

    armchair traveling! i liked this more than i like most bike-tour books by men. i also love that he does nearly everything wrong; that's my favorite way of bike touring--totally half-assed and just open to adventure. he's a good storyteller and a likable narrator. one thing he mentions several times is that bike touring is "often miserable, often boring, sometimes both, and the rest that's left over is divine." that's a super accurate description of bike touring, which means it's hard to write ab armchair traveling! i liked this more than i like most bike-tour books by men. i also love that he does nearly everything wrong; that's my favorite way of bike touring--totally half-assed and just open to adventure. he's a good storyteller and a likable narrator. one thing he mentions several times is that bike touring is "often miserable, often boring, sometimes both, and the rest that's left over is divine." that's a super accurate description of bike touring, which means it's hard to write about in an interesting way, but he does a great job!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lukasz Lukomski

    I have to admit, it is a bit uneven. But at the same time it is one of the best portrayals of cycle touring. ' It is a curious thing about bicycle touring. So much of it is, in fact, boring; quite probably the vast majority. Another large proportion is miserable. A smaller percentage is both. Whatever is left over, though: that is superb." I have to admit, it is a bit uneven. But at the same time it is one of the best portrayals of cycle touring. ' It is a curious thing about bicycle touring. So much of it is, in fact, boring; quite probably the vast majority. Another large proportion is miserable. A smaller percentage is both. Whatever is left over, though: that is superb."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I enjoyed this book. Some of the harsher reviews are focused on the travail McCarron experienced in the US, which to US citizens can seem a bit overblown. Living abroad I can appreciate the difficulty in understanding culture and how sometimes our own cultural norms seem right rather than just different. McCarron's style is definitely varied, but not distracting. The book is worth a read. I enjoyed this book. Some of the harsher reviews are focused on the travail McCarron experienced in the US, which to US citizens can seem a bit overblown. Living abroad I can appreciate the difficulty in understanding culture and how sometimes our own cultural norms seem right rather than just different. McCarron's style is definitely varied, but not distracting. The book is worth a read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marty Nicholas

    Good writer. Enjoyable reading. First adventure in what has become an adventurous life. One slight quibble...the Calif. coastal range, while mountains, are not by any measure the Sierra Nevada. Either in size or placement on the planet. Difficult to see how that error could remain in what is a well written, unassuming book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Darlene Jaratz

    I need a bike trip! I liked this young Irish man's stories of riding westward across the US. He gained vast amount of self confidence and fitness,you could feel it in the book. From such a novice he turns into a world traveler. I am inspired. I need a bike trip! I liked this young Irish man's stories of riding westward across the US. He gained vast amount of self confidence and fitness,you could feel it in the book. From such a novice he turns into a world traveler. I am inspired.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kim McClaren

    Fun read with some great adventure Leon has a great sense of humor and great insight into human nature. The bike trip was inspirational. It was hard to put down. But, once in a while you have to do other things.😊

  22. 5 out of 5

    Praveen Namboothiri

    The dude whines on a bike ride across north America, that's about it. He is not interested in the sights, the locals, history or anything. I think he needed new stuff to whine about. Oh, and he hates Bryan. The dude whines on a bike ride across north America, that's about it. He is not interested in the sights, the locals, history or anything. I think he needed new stuff to whine about. Oh, and he hates Bryan.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amy Jacobsen

    Fun read, stoked my vision for bike touring.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Grim-Anal King

    Engaging but too many tall stories and too much lazily prejudiced commentary on prejudice.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Good, fast read; a little preachy at the end.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    The Road Headed West Author: Leon McCarron Publisher: Herman Graf Book / Skyhorse Publishing / Summersdale Publishing Published In: New York City, NY Date: 2014 Pgs: 349 REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS Summary: A 6000 mile cycling odyssey from New York City to Seattle and points south. Genre: Adventure Autobiography and memoir Biking Biography Cycling Exercise Non-fiction Science and nature Society Travel guides Travel writing Why this book: The description reminds me of The Incredible Voyage by Tristan Jones, one of my The Road Headed West Author: Leon McCarron Publisher: Herman Graf Book / Skyhorse Publishing / Summersdale Publishing Published In: New York City, NY Date: 2014 Pgs: 349 REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS Summary: A 6000 mile cycling odyssey from New York City to Seattle and points south. Genre: Adventure Autobiography and memoir Biking Biography Cycling Exercise Non-fiction Science and nature Society Travel guides Travel writing Why this book: The description reminds me of The Incredible Voyage by Tristan Jones, one of my favorite books of all time. It’s not just the description. The story reminds me very much of Jones’ adventure. __________________________________________________​ Favorite Character: Lola, the bicycle with the trailer trundling along. Least Favorite Character: The crazy redneck gun nut that tried to kill him in an Iowa tornado. Character I Most Identified With: Leon comes across in this book. You could sit down and have a beer or a jar of peanut butter with him and it’d be alright. The Feel: This is a great adventure. Favorite Scene: After a whiskey fueled night before, he drags himself down to the ground floor, going back and forth to get his bike and trailer down, then, checking his room and the apartment that isn’t his home anymore to make sure he’s gotten everything, makes his way downstairs a final time, steps outside, realizes that he has locked his bike and trailer inside the lobby, and left his keys upstairs for his roommate’s new roommate. My small doubts about the story, all but, disappeared at this point. The encounter with the gun toting, drunk Iowan and the tornado giving him a lesson in the dangers of the road after the long flat monotony of the Iowa backroads. Pacing: Well paced, short chapters. Plot Holes/Out of Character: The lack of planning, considering the scope of his epic journey, is daunting. The bad things happen potential is huge. Hmm Moments: The incidents where McCarron crossed out of the US into Canada and back make me question the wisdom of the author. Attempting to cross the international border in a post-911 world considering America’s security profile and the state of his paperwork just wasn’t smart. He busts TSA border guard Rankin’s balls in the text, but if I were Rankin, I wouldn’t have let him across the border either. After he talked to a supervisor, McCarron did manage to recross the border into the US and continue his journey. The gap that Leon perceives between him and Susie, his temporary riding mate, when they visited Jack Larsen, former General Motors employee. Larsen waxes nostalgic about working for GM. And Leon notices that while he is enjoying the reverie as an insight into the American character, Susie seems to be bored by it. The implication seeming to be that she sees it as standard bourgeois nostalgia. The ferry ride across Lake Michigan from Muskegon, Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin makes a wonderful break between Parts 1 and 2. Feels very natural. Why isn’t there a screenplay? There could probably be a heckuva movie made of this. __________________________________________________​ Last Page Sound: Well done. The denouement telling about his onward journeys after the Mexico border south of San Diego. His marriage to Clare. Good stuff. Author Assessment: If there was a book of his continued adventure, I’d read it. But it sounds like instead of this being a bicycle trip around the world, that his journeys have been more a disjointed swag around the world in search of further adventures. Editorial Assessment: Well edited. Knee Jerk Reaction: instant classic Disposition of Book: Irving Public Library South Campus Dewey Decimal System: 917.3 MCC Would recommend to: friends, family, kids, colleagues, everyone, genre fans, no one _________________________________________________

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shaney

    When I'm on my death bed someday, I imagine I will reminisce about riding my bike. I'm addicted to the wind and the rush of racing down a hill. I love the torture of climbing and a long day spent pushing myself-just me and whatever lies ahead. I also live for the wonderful calorie-packed snacks and meals that I can enjoy and feel as though I deserve them. I really liked this book, but these two aspects were missing for me: the pain of the ride and the FOOD! The author really down-played the stre When I'm on my death bed someday, I imagine I will reminisce about riding my bike. I'm addicted to the wind and the rush of racing down a hill. I love the torture of climbing and a long day spent pushing myself-just me and whatever lies ahead. I also live for the wonderful calorie-packed snacks and meals that I can enjoy and feel as though I deserve them. I really liked this book, but these two aspects were missing for me: the pain of the ride and the FOOD! The author really down-played the strenuous aspect of what he did and focused on the stories that compiled during his epic trip. He also only seemed to eat peanut butter every meal....which is of course fine, I just wanted to feel as though I put in those miles and then enjoyed some crazy calories too. (I'm guessing that's how he could do this on $5 a day!) I know this review is getting too long, but I wanted to add how much I did enjoy his stories. I know some reviewers seemed upset that he was making fun of the Midwest or Americans, but I've traveled across that same way four times now (by car) and I can't imagine tackling the wind, monotony and passing RV's while on a bike. We should be made fun of once in awhile-he kept it real! *If Susie ever writes a book about her cycling trips I NEED to read a girl's perspective! **Leon, if you ever read reviews of your own book, then let me tell you you'll need to hike/cycle Glacier National Park next time you're in the USA. You missed that gem!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jemma

    An engaging and informative account of cycling across America. Not only do you get the headline of crossing America, Leon's attitude is interesting. He cycles and sees what he sees, not diverting, for the most part, to see what is interesting nearby. This is refreshing in many ways because normally the detours are included because the places are worth visiting. The downside though is that this does wear a bit thin as the downside is he misses a lot of interesting stuff. He also seems to get bore An engaging and informative account of cycling across America. Not only do you get the headline of crossing America, Leon's attitude is interesting. He cycles and sees what he sees, not diverting, for the most part, to see what is interesting nearby. This is refreshing in many ways because normally the detours are included because the places are worth visiting. The downside though is that this does wear a bit thin as the downside is he misses a lot of interesting stuff. He also seems to get bored telling the story. Passing through 100 miles of LA is dismissed in a sentence about the weather. Nevertheless, Leon's hapless approach to planning his project is also refreshing. It's not that he didn't do any planning, just clearly not enough for such a trip. This also gives his travelogue a refreshing flavour because normally people are so prepared it's a little off-putting. Leon's prepare but don't sweat the details makes you feel that yeah you could possibly do such a trip too. Which I think would please Leon, if I've learnt anything about his personality from this book. Indeed, the book ends with helpful hints on kit for a bike tour which is succinct and seems doable.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bronwyn

    Largely self-indulgent and inconsistent: one minute the author is irritated by other people and how dare tourists get in his way!, the next being charming to Americans in order to get food and accommodation. There was a tone of judgement throughout the book about how other people chose to travel, and of tourist locations and "overweight Americans". Also, large chunks of his book was whinging about how boring the cycling can be, or how dull the landscape around him was (especially in the Midwest) Largely self-indulgent and inconsistent: one minute the author is irritated by other people and how dare tourists get in his way!, the next being charming to Americans in order to get food and accommodation. There was a tone of judgement throughout the book about how other people chose to travel, and of tourist locations and "overweight Americans". Also, large chunks of his book was whinging about how boring the cycling can be, or how dull the landscape around him was (especially in the Midwest), which made me wonder why he was doing it at all. I felt that he was very privileged to go on this adventure, especially during the recession, and yet he didn't appear to appreciate much of it until the end of the book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kelvin

    This is a book that either explains everything that could go wrong or shouldn't be attempted when cycling across North America or is a simple book about how the Irish like to cycle. This book taught me valuable things like 'don't get into cars with drunk people' or 'do not attempt cycling on the interstate'. Leon either wrote a manual on how not to long-distance cycle or set an example of chucking caution to the wind and just getting out there having some fun and doing it. This was a quick, easy, This is a book that either explains everything that could go wrong or shouldn't be attempted when cycling across North America or is a simple book about how the Irish like to cycle. This book taught me valuable things like 'don't get into cars with drunk people' or 'do not attempt cycling on the interstate'. Leon either wrote a manual on how not to long-distance cycle or set an example of chucking caution to the wind and just getting out there having some fun and doing it. This was a quick, easy, delightful and bizarrely educational read.

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