Over the Hills: A Midlife Escape Across America by Bicycle
, 1996 - Travel
- 254 pages
David Lamb gave himself - for this book - a fifty-fourth birthday present: a trip across America at ten miles per hour. The genesis of this notion occurred one afternoon when Lamb was seated at the bar of the Antlers Saloon in Wisdom, Montana. There was a hitching post outside and against it were two jet-black touring bicycles with stuffed panniers balanced over the rear wheels. The owners were a couple from Chicago on a biking vacation that would take them from Fargo, North Dakota, to Missoula, Montana. Lamb quizzed them as surely as he would have a wagonmaster headed west. It had never occurred to him that people actually traveled so far by bicycle, and the idea struck him as a captivating one, a kind of return to past times when to travel meant to experience an intimacy with the towns and valleys and mountains one crossed through or over. Lamb began his own journey on a sleek 21-speed touring bicycle, which would carry him 3,145 miles from his home in Alexandria, Virginia, all the way to the pier poking out into the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California. He did no training for this feat, failed to curb his addictions to cigarettes and junk food, and along the way encountered an America all but invisible to those unfortunate travelers held hostage by the interstate. The journey took two months, and Over the Hills is the magnificent result: a literary travelogue, fun and celebratory, a story about people met and physical challenges overcome.