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Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180
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Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  340 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Take one very large guy. Add booze, cigarettes, and an extreme amount of junk food. Mix in a wry, self-effacing wit. Throw in a bike. The result? Heft on Wheels, a potently funny look at turning your life around, one insanely unrealistic goal at a time.
Not that long ago, Mike Magnuson was a self-described lummox with a bicycle. In the space of three months, he lost sevent
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Paperback, 252 pages
Published May 24th 2005 by Three Rivers Press (CA) (first published January 1st 2004)
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Caroline
Apr 15, 2008 Caroline rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Writers, Partiers, Cyclists
This is really different from most of Magnusun's writing--it's a memoir (not exactly a "guide") about his transformation from one obsession (booze & food) to another (cycling). This is an easy, quick read, nevertheless thoughtful, witty, compelling and totally fasinating. I don't think you'll find yourself highlighting any particularly "heady" passages, but you may find yourself engaged--mesmerized, sometimes grossed out, sometimes laughing out loud.

One thing that I found to be especially i
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Julie
This book started out fabulously, really liked it, laughed, got motivated. At some time after the midpoint, Magnuson got "dropped." It was almost like his contract said 'you've got X pages you must write, so I don't care what it sounds like--keep going.' He got mired in obsession, so much so that I as the reader started to not care anymore and wished he would get some psychological help. If it had stayed as a 'look what I did with cycling' story, it would have been fine, but it turned into a 'lo ...more
Art Rodriguez
How many times can you pat yourself on the back? Well Magnuson managed a 250+ page book to do just that. I think it is an amazing thing to change ones life the way he did...perhaps he can write a book about it. Seriously, how many times can an author, and teacher of creative writing, use the words "awesome"? Well, there were a few decent chapters about the races he was in...maybe you can"hammer" your way through it.
David
I re-read this after two years. Mike Magnuson is not only a skilled writer, but a bit of a philosopher. I can really identify with the spirit (if not the exact circumstances) of his tale of self improvement. The book is funny, enlightening, and inspiring. I find myself thinking about it now and then.
Ali6
As a cyclist trying to lost 25 pounds, I was really looking forward to reading this book. While it was entertaining to some extent, as well as a quick read, I thought it was poorly written which took away some of the enjoyment of the book. The author is a Creative Writing professor at Southern Illinois University, which makes the run-on sentences and poorly constructed paragraphs seem even worse. I feel sorry for his poor students.

He comes across as a bit of an egotistical jerk, which also was a
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Clark Goble
In his memoirs Heft On Wheels, cyclist Mike Magnuson tells the story of how he replaced an obsession with cigarettes and booze with an obsession with all things cycling. In the process, he dropped somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 or 90 pounds. Throughout the entire book there is the feeling that one bad spill or stressful day is gonna send Magnuson right back to the bar stool.

I enjoy this book because it is real. Magnuson is inspirational without trying to be. At nearly 300 pounds at the begi
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Bob
I started this book a year ago hoping that it would provide some inspiration for me since I am an overweight male who likes to bicycle. I put it down after a couple of chapters. The author comes of as a bit of a jerk. I had read an earlier memoir he had written titled Lumox, aptly named. I finally picked it up again this fall, I simply can not leave a book partially read. There are some inspitational moments at times, but what really seemed to be the story is that the author exhibits an addictiv ...more
Wesley
This is great, you have to love cycling though. It amplifies the passion, intensity and every minute pain that comes with the sport. To see a guy that big get on a road bike and make it happen isn't just a typical I lost weight story. This is really an inspiration. Cycling on high levels for long distances is healthy addiction to pain and suffering. It's hard, kudos to Mike Magnuson.
Lynn
I read this book very quickly, in about 2 days. I liked the conversational tone of the book. I read it because I am very interested in sports memoirs and happy endings. The story is very compelling, how he lost weight and changed his life by becoming a serious biker. It also has a lot of reflection on who we are and why we do what we do. Highly recommended.
Carl
Interesting book in that the guy wrote it so soon after shedding so much weight by basically transitioning addictions to alcohol and cigarettes to the bicycle. At least he accepts that he's basically an addictive personality, and has merely found an addiction that is the least ruinous to his and his family's health.
Edwin Priest
What a great cover story: a fat, hard drinking, tobacco-abusing party guy rediscovers his bicycle, loses eighty pounds and totally turns his life around. The pages inside seem to deliver the goods, describing the author's dramatic transformation and all of the fortitude and commitment that is involved with this. One has to give this guy credit: it is not everyone who can do this.

Unfortunately, one cannot help but pity the author as he trades one self-absorbed and obsessive lifestyle for another,
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Michael
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James
I liked this book in the beginning. Then hated it in the middle. And then liked it again at the end. I started getting annoyed that he rarely talked about his kids or his wife. Like almost not at all. He was absent when he was smoking and drinking all the time and now here was absent while out biking all the time. Healthy but absent. Which isn't a huge deal as my guess is his wife probably didn't mind him being out of the house, but it was like he never thought about them. That's what was buggin ...more
Matt
This is an odd book. It's a very personal account of a super-obsessive guy who's having trouble crossing the threshold into middle age. His health and fitness are very poor and he takes a very unhealthy approach to correcting, err no... confronting this. Sound terrible? Well it turns out that he's got a great wit and can write well enough to tell his story in a very entertaining way.

It's a quick read-- more like an extended magazine article than a meaty book. He conveys his love for cycling in a
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Michael
After recently finishing Tucker Max's second book, "Assholes finish first," I felt that Max had his life together way more than the author of this book, Mike Magnuson. The first 80 pages had me literally angry at the book: here's this guy, in his late thirties, partying like a stereotypical frat boy (and I was in a fraternity, so I can say that)...in my head, I just keep screaming "Grow up! you have a wife and family!" I did not sympathize with him, and i was disgusted by the people he kept com ...more
Bobbie
Very enjoyable and inspirational read. This author captures the truly exhilarating feel of the ride. He is much more dedicated than I, but at least makes me feel that I am in the race with him. Though, I would never be able to stay up with him, I can ride at my pace and know that each turn of the pedals is a victory and more exercise than the person sitting not he sofa or in the bar...love this and highly recommend to other riders, beginning and seasoned!
JDK1962
Not stunningly original: person whose life is slowly headed down the toilet manages to find his way out (news flash: drunks are only fun to be around--or anywhere near--if you're drunk). A touch repetitive. However, Magnuson is a good writer, and if you read this and are a cyclist, you'll enjoy it.
Danny
Wow... for being an English teacher with an already published book, this was horribly written and an easy read, just hard to get through... I wanted yo stop half way, but figured I've gone this far. As much as I wanted to like this ride through one man's goals on a bike I didn't. Sure I've done some of the rides he mentioned in California, and they are hard but calm down on the self maturation to your ego. You list weight, you built your bike skills. I've heard much more interesting stories from ...more
Delmer
Oct 17, 2008 Delmer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2005
Mike Manguson spent much of his adult life drinking, smoking and over eating. As he approached 39 years of age he decided he needed to make a change. He'd always enjoyed cycling -- even though he sometimes had trouble sticking with it for great periods of time -- and decided he'd work at becoming the best he could be on a bike. An expensive bike. He goes from being the guy some of the other's in his ride group refer to as someone 'who shouldn't be here' to a leader of the pack. Along the way he ...more
Pat H
Though I admire Mr. Magnuson's accomplishment, I neither admire him nor his book. The writing is too narcissistic and I just wound up feeling sorry for his family.
Clint
If you are ever feeling like you suck, and you are out of shape, like, for REAL...then there might be something to that. If you find yourself feeling this way, you MUST read this book. It will get you off of your office-grown soft booty, and hopeful sweating out the miles, sweating out the frustration, and leave you fitter, more confident, and happier. At least, when I felt like I sucked, and was out of shape (and I really was), it did these things for me.
Joaquin
My bicycling boyfriend loaned me this book. Even if I weren't an avid cyclist, the story is very compelling in a "dude, I cannot believe how much this guy really hates himself!" sort of way. I ended up not liking the author at all by the time I reached the end of the book. But at the same time reading it stirred up tons of self-reflection and motivated to work harder at identifying and working on the things I care about.
Joseph
Magnuson glorifies cycling as some kind of torture or man test that must over come to be admitting into the upper echelon of MANkind. For the most part, I was disappointed in this book. There was no advice or training plan, and nothing really to be gleamed from except except the knowledge that "I quit smoking and drinking so I'm better than all those bums that are still doing it, riding my 5000$ bicycle."
Kelley
I read this a couple of weeks ago, over my vacation. It deserves a much better review than I have time for, but let me just say: it's a fun read. I hope Magnuson will do more writing about biking and his life. Inspired by his book, I looked for other books about biking but they just don't measure up. They are too much bragging, not enough about life.
Sarah
Oct 11, 2010 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sarah by: Jim Allen
An interesting book that showcases how a man's obsession can easily run his life, whether he's obsessed with an unhealthy lifestyle of booze and cigarettes or a healthy one of good diet and biking. This book definitely inspires you to want to make positive change in your own life after seeing how Magnuson was able to turn his around.
Mike
This is not a blueprint to become healthy. However, it is a good story about a guy that drinks, eats and smokes to much and his journey to turn his life around and face his personal demons by...cycling. It's a pretty easy read and is enjoyable for anyone that is interested in cycling.
Linus
Dec 29, 2007 Linus rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in getting into cycling
It's an interesting look at cycling and how it can be both helpful and yet addictive. There was so much that Mike said that rang true to me. Cycling should be fun while yet a means to have suffering.

His style isn't for everyone but it's an easy enough read to get through.
Jen
Blah. Being newly interested in triathlons I was hoping this book would shed some light on the sport of cycling. And, while it did a little bit, it mostly focused on this guys attempt to kick his addictions. Very repetitive and not well edited. I was left disappointed.
Christine Grant
Really enjoyed this book. Moments from the book (i.e. the trip to Red Lobster) have stuck with me since I read it 8 years ago. I don't think that I'm ready to give up junk food and start cycling 300 miles at a time but I'm glad that he did it and shared the journey.
Jennifer Cooper
Great writer & one obsessive guy! I really like to ride bikes. Mag really really really likes to ride bikes-- which is especially amazing when you read about how much he used to like beer & his couch. Check out the before-and-after pictures on the cover.
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