Life Is a Wheel chronicles the cross-country bicycle trip Bruce Weber made at the age of fifty-seven, an “entertaining travel story filled with insightful thoughts about life, family, and aging” (The Associated Press).
During the summer and fall of 2011, Bruce Weber, an obituary writer for The New York Times, bicycled across the country, alone, and wrote about it as it unfolded. Life Is a Wheel is the witty, inspiring, and reflective diary of his journey, in which the challenges and rewards of self-reliance and strenuous physical effort yield wry and incisive observations about cycling and America, not to mention the pleasures of a three-thousand-calorie breakfast.
The story begins on the Oregon coast, with Weber wondering what he’s gotten himself into, and ends in triumph on New York City’s George Washington Bridge. From Going-to-the-Sun Road in the northern Rockies to the headwaters of the Mississippi and through the cityscapes of Chicago and Pittsburgh, his encounters with people and places provide us with an intimate, two-wheeled perspective of America. And with thousands of miles to travel, Weber considers his past, his family, and the echo that a well-lived life leaves behind.
Part travelogue, part memoir, part romance, part paean to the bicycle—and part bemused and panicky account of a middle-aged man’s attempt to stave off, well, you know—Life Is a Wheel is “a book for cyclists, and for anyone who has ever dreamed of such transcontinental travels. But it also should prove enlightening, soul-stirring, even, to those who don’t care a whit about bikes but who care about the way people connect” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
Reprising a similar trip he took from California to New York City in 1993, in 2011 New York Times obituary writer and author Weber (As They See 'Em) bicycled from Oregon to Manhattan. Weber documented the trip for Times Web site, but here he has expanded on those posts to create a lengthier form that allows him to explore deeper themes while still maintaining the conversational style that makes his writing a breeze to read. While Weber introduces readers to people he met, his trip is more about the internal explorations of a 57-year-old man pushing his body to its limits. Weber presents "fruitful cogitation" on a myriad of subjects, such as the passing of a friend during the first week of his trip; his deceased parents; his long distance relationship with a woman named Jan; and the general feeling of loneliness that pervades the excursion. Weber never fails to entertain, and his compulsion to always move forward despite the weight of the past is as inspiring as his astounding cycling achievement.