There was a time when I looked to my future and saw what I could only describe as “a desk with manacles.” I loved academics and learning, but I also craved open spaces and time to myself. As far back as high school and continuing through graduate school, I arranged my schedule so that, weather permitting, there was always at least one half-day, midweek, when I could escape into the countryside, generally on two wheels.
By the time I was 32, it had come to a head. I graded exams, filed the reports, and hit the road on a 5,400-mile summer-long meander from California to Maine.
As an athletic accomplishment, it wasn’t anything special. All it takes to bicycle long distances is patience, a bit of training, low gears, and reasonably good knees. What it was, was life-changing. I viewed it as exiting the fast lane and discovering America from the road shoulder. Thirty-two years later, I still hear from people who found a special resonance in this book.
The publisher, sadly, put it out in hardback, sold 5,500 copies, declined three paperback offers because they were going to do the paperback themselves, then didn’t do the paperback and disbanded the division that printed the book.
I do, however, have a few of the remaining hardbacks. Contact me if you want one. Autographed, of course.