Over the Hills

By any reasonable standard, this book should not have appeared. Indeed, the only record of this entire affair should be a short obituary of the author. After all, what are the odds of survival when a fifty-four-year-old male who engages in the moderate use of tobacco and alcohol, practices a diet based on junk food, and is woefully out of shape decides, almost on a whim, to ride a bicycle coast to coast? Nevertheless, that is the premise behind this work of self-exploration and personal revelation.

An eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee correspondent for the LOS ANGELES TIMES leaves his home in Alexandria, Virginia, and heads west. His ultimate objective, some 3,145 miles down the road, is Santa Monica, California. Lamb undertook no alterations in his lifestyle before beginning his adventure. In point of fact, save for physical exercise for many hours every day he made few changes in his normal routine. Admittedly he traveled down roads he would normally avoid at ten miles an hour into towns he had little reason to visit while balancing his worldly possessions on a 21-speed touring bike. Yet, other than that, nothing much changed in Lamb’s daily existence. He ate what he wanted, regularly composed articles for several newspapers, and left his wife and friends mystified.

This is a book to read quickly, savor at length, and return to time and again. George Foreman lifted the spirits of middle-aged men everywhere, while David Lamb reminds us that we never really know of what we are capable until we need to find out. Finally, those interested in the history of bicycles and long-distance travel will find this a useful introduction to the subject.