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Friday, July 18, 2014

Going Somewhere: A Bicycle Journey Across America

I have always been intrigued by people who choose to go on bicycle journeys, so Brian Benson's memoir Going Somewhere: A Bicycle Journey Across America piqued my interest.

Brian has a bit of wanderlust and after college finds himself hanging out down in Mexico for a while. There he meets the enigmatic Rachel--gorgeous, free-spirited, and confident. They slowly fall for one another, and when it's time to go home they agree to meet in Brian's home town in Wisconsin and bike together to Rachel's home in Portland. It will be there great adventure. After they set off they come face-to-face with some harsh realities of the physical, mental, and emotional persuasion. They slowly discover what they are made of and what their relationship can truly stand.

I personally had never thought about taking a bike tour around the country, but I found this book planting ideas in my head. It's hard not to relate to Benson who narrates this story in the first person. (It is, after all, a memoir.) His candor and openness is where this book gets its finest moments, and anyone who has set out on a personal journey and has been pushed beyond limits they never even knew they had set for themselves can relate to it. I found myself wondering if I, too, could make the physical journey. This was probably the most interesting thought process that came out of this incredibly well-done book.

The story is captivating, and as I moved through Brian and Rachel's journey with them I wanted to call out to them on the road because it felt that I was there with them. Benson has a knack for conversational writing that comes across as personal and knowing, and it made this story really come alive on the page. Their journey through their relationship, frankly still very new and lacking in a bit of realism since they met away from home and didn't have the day-to-day slog of living as part of their experience, was a beautiful journey that I was invited on. Living and loving is hard work, and to hear Benson speak of how inadequate he felt on the beginning of his journey all the way to reading his thought process as he learns to understand Rachel's hopes and fears as well was really wonderful. Overall I was so happy to have cracked this book open and that I was able to take time away from life to ride with these two.

Hard copy for purchase below.

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