Ladies and gents, I love reading cycling books. People travel to places I will never go (but wish I could). A good writer can share the pain, triumph and euphoria of riding a bike.
There are very few cycling fiction books that I have found. However, once I saw a review in Cascade bike clubs newsletter this month, I had to order it…
This story revolves around two things near and dear to my heart.
The first is the fact that ANYONE can ride a bike. It is the ultimate equalizer. Old, young, fat, skinny, athletic or not, the bike can take you anywhere and into adventures you can never dream of.
The second is the Seattle to Portland ride here in Washington. It is, bar none, the preeminent ride of the northwest.
Alex is the hero of the book. He is 12 years old and suffers from an accident (won’t tell you what it is was) that left one leg MUCH shorter than the other.
His dad, who was an avid cyclist in his younger days, hung up his cycle (literally) when his boys were young, to focus more on his family.
I will mention here that I think this is meant to be a young adult novel. But I was intrigued and stayed with it to the end.
Alex is introduced to the STP from a teacher who asks him to help compose music for an STP video. Alex dreams of riding the STP in one day, and thereby joining a family of riders who have “Done something most people will never do!”
This rang a serious chord with me. I have ridden the 206 miles in one day twice. It drained me of all I had, and took days to recover, but I have never been so happy and proud of my riding as the two times I did this!
Alex’s dad first gets him his own Trek bike and then, after a chance meeting with another family, a tandem he and his son can share.
Dad starts remembering his younger days, and decides to ride a single day STP on his own, but rides with the kid to help train. Alex, when he learns dad is planning to ride alone, makes it his mission to convince dad he can ride it as well. It is not much of a spoiler to tell you he succeeds in riding along. I will NOT tell you if they made it!
There were many reasons I am recommending this book.
As a kid, I was picked on a lot. I was far from athletic. Alex had the same problem, but as he rode, his confidence grew, as did his muscles. He soon earned the respect of the kids who bullied him. Wish I woulda thought of that back then!
Dad had to balance his desires to ride with the needs of a family with 2 sons. Having 2 of my own and wanting to be with them when they needed me, I know this man’s struggle. There were MANY times I wanted to be cycling when instead I was at Speed Skating or Baseball practice. It is what we dads do.
Finally, it captures completely cycling in Seattle. The rain and cold we endure in the winter to prepare us for the summer. Beauty we see during the rides that inspire us to go farther. And, finally, the pain, suffering and elation one feels as a one day rider on the STP. It is truly an amazing feeling.
Do you have a kid who doesn’t feel like he or she is athletic? Are you an adult who feels the same way? Do you have a bucket list goal but thing you will NEVER do it? Read this book, and it will start you thinking about getting a bike for you and the kidlet. Keep reading and you will challenge yourself to ride more. Finish the book, and you will want to find your own STP challenge.
The bike is a great equalizer, and this story proves it! Well done to the author!