Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

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Ever hear about something, of even read a book, and learned that you could have followed along during the actual adventure by simply following the blog?  Well this is one of those times!  I was introduced to their Family on Bikes Blog at the end of 2012 and I have been following it ever since.  I was even able to help vote for the final cover! (This is the one I voted for!)  I recommend the blog, and the people behind it!  If I ever make it to Boise, I am going to have to say hi!  Sadly, though, I never sound this while the ride was happening.

Enough of that lets talk about the book!  I liked it a lot!  Basic premise, a family (mom, dad and twin 10-year-old boys) decide to ride bikes from as far north as you can get in Alaska (well above the Arctic Circle) and pedal as far south as you can get in South America….  I had trouble getting my kid ride 25 miles with me just once!

What I liked about the book is the cadence.  Nancy gave details, about each country they rode through, how the bikes and bodies held up, the weather, bugs, dust hills and wind.  Which, as any cyclist will tell you, can make or break any long ride.

What she didn’t do, though, is mire down the story with the details,  She kept it moving.  As you went through each country, you had a great feel about the people, culture, and terrain, but she didn’t let you get bored before getting to the next country.  She did an excellent job telling the story!

I also liked how much we learned about the boys.  There were times I would just start thinking these were 16 or 17 year olds, then i’d read they played with action figures or hot wheels cars.  She kept the human aspect with her and the boys near the front, for us all to see, but it also didn’t take over.  It was part of the story as opposed to taking away from it.

This does take me to one of the negative pieces of the review.  I feel I got to know Nancy and both boys very well.  But I just didn’t get much about Dad.  He was the muscle, the mechanic and supportive, but he just didn’t get fleshed out as much as the other three.  (Being a Dad, I wanted to know more about him.)

I liked the way she also gave details about the off times.  You can’t ride this non-stop.  Being a Monday morning quarterback, its easy for me to say that they may have taken too much time off here and there, making it harder to get back into road shape.  However, it wasn’t my butt in the saddle, or my legs moving the pedals.  Letting us know the family did have downtime kept the travels real.  Many times, books about long trips just gloss over the down times.

She was also very open about how she was almost ready to throw in the towel, give up and go home, a very natural feeling.  Again, though, this is where I would’ve liked to know if Dad felt the same way?

The one last negative I may get guff for, but here we go.   You can tell Nancy dearly loves her boys, and is (rightly so) very proud of them for doing so well, and rarely complaining.   However, after the 7th or 8th time reading about it, I wanted to say “Ok, we got it, you are  proud, move on!”

These minor little things did NOT keep me from thoroughly enjoying this book, and out of 5 I give it 4 stars. Its fun, entertaining, fast paced and it fulfills the ultimate rule I have for cycling books.  It made me WANT to get on my bike and take a long ride!  I wish I could have tagged along for part of this ride.

Get Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World   I am very happy to add it to my adventure library, and i hope you will think so too!

PS, I think what happened with the boys and the Guinness Book of World Records.  You’ll have to read it to see what that was!

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2 Responses to Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

  1. Thank you for a lovely review! I do realize I didn’t John in there as much as I should have. It’s just that our thoughts were somehow linked so it was hard for me to separate the two of us.

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