Over the course of my bicycling life which began at age ten I have read a number of books dealing with bicycle adventures. Most were accounts of cross-country journeys. One was about Thomas Stevens the first man to circle the globe on a high wheeler bicycle. Another chronicles Jon Haldeman’s effort in the Race Across America. There were several other’s too. Then there were some movies like American Flyer which kicked off Kevin Costner’s career as a movie actor. The most notable bicycle film is Breaking Away which featured Dennis Quaid as a teenager. All of them offered me hours of wonderful entertainment and motivated me to do crazy things on a bicycle. That is as crazy a thing as I could do. Read my post on Nova Scotia titled My Side of the Story, and you will see just what I consider to be a wild and crazy adventure.
Early this week I used my usual process to find a book in library: walk in, head for the new-book racks, scan the titles and covers, pick up the first thing that strikes your fancy. This time it was a book called This Road I Ride, by Juliana Buhring. The spark that lit the fire of desire to read the story was the image of bicycle wheel on the cover. That is it, my super simple system to find worthy books to read. I was not disappointed, and I was right. The story is a bicycle adventure.
What fascinated me about This Road I Ride was the story leading up to the ultimate adventure which was a bike ride around the world. Juliana is the product of a religious sect called The Children of God. Something of a hippie free love movement, the sect raised the children by sending them to foster care parents within the sect in all parts of the world. By the time Juliana was four years old she began a journey living in thirty countries all around Asia, Africa, and Europe. She ultimately left the group to be on her own.
Her decision to circumnavigate the world was the result of losing her true love to a crocodile while he led a kayaking group down the Congo river. She wanted to do something to memorialize his memory that was equal to his way of life and his personal philosophy. This book will someday become a movie.
What Buhring did in two hundred and twenty-four pages was to tell her early life story, how she met and fell for her love Hendrik, set her goal to become a Guiness Book record to bike around the world, describe the ride, express her psychological and philosophical leanings, emote her physical and mental stress, and do it in a way that keeps the reader wanting to hear more. She described how traveling into the wind was more difficult than pumping up a hill in such beautiful detail that it reminded me of too many times when I thought I would much rather climb a hill than push into the wind. A hill ends, but the wind usually doesn’t. Her book is short of a miracle.
If you are into stories about people who lead fascinating lives, this one is a must.