March 27, 2006

"Freewheelin"

A Solo Journey
Across America
by Richard Lovett


From Library Journal:
Freewheelin' is the story of Lovett's solo transcontinental bicycle tour in the summer of 1986. His narrative combines descriptions of beautiful scenery and small - town America, with technical considerations such as road conditions and elevations that are important to bikers. He also recounts meetings with fellow bikers, campers, and those hurrying along to various destinations. His description of local people, mostly friendly but sometimes hostile, does much to give a feeling of America today. Throughout, the author reflects on what he is trying to accomplish and how the trip is affecting his life. This book will be of special interest to bike lovers, but armchair travelers will also enjoy.
Marguerite Mroz, Baltimore Cty. P.L.

Meaningful Quotes:
Mountains are best viewed from these lower levels, where their rocky splendor contrasts with the gentler lowlands. Mountains need room to breath, room to survey vast regions with the remote isolation of mythical gods. In mountains like the Sawtooth I find room to appreciate the scale of the world and to wonder that the creator of all this majesty cares for 'me'. Infinitesimal speck that I am, that he is not merely like the peaks, remote by holy grandeur. But also personal and intimate like the alpine lake lapping quietly at my feet.

Storms remind us how small and frail we are. The accomplishments of modern technology are rendered meaningless by nature unleashed. All that remains is a sense of primitive awe as the powers of the universe pour forth, while we snuggle deep without our little caves.

I wonder if the slower pace of backroads life also gives people time to be more aware, encouraging their natural hospitality.

I decided the Robert Frost could be the poet laureate of the touring cyclist. Like him, we seek out the roads less traveled. Our mode of transportation opens the heart to things that others miss - the life changing process of experiencing America from the slow lane.

This is not to say that all mountain ranges are equal. Some are more obvious in their beauty, speaking to more people with clearer voices. I believe all are put there for a reason - no place is truly desolate - and all have something to teach us if we but listen to their subtle voices and approach them on their own terms. That is why even the most barren places have their advocates - people who have truly learned to hear. People who stand in their role of prophets. Interpreting what these places have to say to humanity.

Freewheelin available at Powells and Amazon