Over the Hills: A Midlife Escape Across America by Bicycle

Over the Hills: A Midlife Escape Across America by Bicycle

by David Lamb
     
 

David Lamb's fifty-fourth birthday present to himself was a trip across America by bicycle. The idea of returning to past times when to travel meant to experience an intimacy with towns, valleys and mountains appealed to him. Lamb began his trek on a sleek 21-speed touring bicycle that carried him 3,145 miles from his home in Alexandria, Virginia to the pier poking…  See more details below

Overview

David Lamb's fifty-fourth birthday present to himself was a trip across America by bicycle. The idea of returning to past times when to travel meant to experience an intimacy with towns, valleys and mountains appealed to him. Lamb began his trek on a sleek 21-speed touring bicycle that carried him 3,145 miles from his home in Alexandria, Virginia to the pier poking into the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California. The journey took two months and Over the Hills is the magnificent result: a literary travelogue about people met and physical challenges overcome.

Editorial Reviews

Janet St. Joh
A highly respected journalist and self-confirmed middle-ager, Lamb decides to set off one day on a cross-country journey from Washington, D.C., to Santa Monica, California. In a reportorial style, he gathers facts about bicycling from friends and magazines, piecing together what he thinks is the sufficient equipment and information to make his trip easier. But Lamb doesn't map out a real plan, research his route or terrain, or prepare physically for what becomes a major, life-altering trek. The difficulties he meets in weather, accommodations, and road conditions seem insignificant in comparison to his interior journey, brought about by encounters with history, people, and places. Clearly a man with a strong will, Lamb defies the odds and reaffirms his life and youth. Like one 3,145-mile meditation, Over the Hills certainly bears resemblance to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and will appeal to many readers, even those for whom a solitary cross-country trip will remain a dream.
Kirkus Reviews
Astride his trusty Trek 520, Los Angeles Times correspondent Lamb (Stolen Season, 1991, etc.) pedals his way from the Potomac to the Pacific in this entertaining 3,145-mile ramble, which is more cycling manifesto than travelogue.

Middle age was squatting like a fat toad on Lamb's shoulders. Feeling restless, feeling all of his 55 years, knowing that he "could be quite fulfilled wandering aimlessly forever," he decided to undertake a transcontinental journey, via bicycle, without timetables and sticking to back roads. He is a worthy narrator, stopping to smell the roses and sketch for his readers the towns and characters he met en route, witnessing in many places the demise of Main Street, listening in the quiet of the night "to the labored breathing of Small Town, America." But this is no Blue Highways, for as much as Lamb enjoys the open road, he is even more fascinated with cycling, its history, and what great good sense it makes in terms of simple pleasure and its benign nature. Peppered throughout the book are nuggets of cycling lore, from a sketch of a bicycle found in the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci, through the penny-farthing era, to the emergence of the mountain bike. With his light journalist's touch, he makes fair reading out of the biker's concerns: picking the good route, the torment of head winds, the terrors prompted by vicious dogs, the unfathomable ugliness showered on cyclers (ignoramuses throw bottles at him, run him off the road, shout profanities, and threaten him), all balanced by the ecstasy of smooth macadam and a downhill slope; on this trip, a wide shoulder to the road was more tantalizing than even the fairest prospect.

A delightful tribute to romancing the road on a bike, and unintentionally inspirational: Lamb smokes, has high cholesterol, and chows down on fast foods. Criminy, if he could do it . . .

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812925791
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/30/1996
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.79(w) x 8.56(h) x 0.96(d)

Meet the Author

David Lamb is an eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee who has traveled the world for twenty-five years as a Los Angeles Times correspondent.  He is the author of four widely praised previous books.  He and his wife, Sandy Northrup, live in Virginia, near a bike path that runs along the Potomac.

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