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Going Somewhere: A Bicycle Journey Across America

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  690 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Brian Benson has a million life plans but no sense of direction. So when he meets and falls for Rachel, he's ready to go wherever she'll take him. In a whirlwind of new love, they embark on a bicycle trip from northern Wisconsin to western Oregon. As the pair progress through stunning landscapes, they contend with merciless winds, vivid characters, broken bikes and bodies, ...more
Paperback, 277 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Plume Books
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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  690 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So there's a problem with trying to review great writing: not being a sufficiently great writer to articulate WHY that book is so incredible. Stick with me, folks.

I think there's such an incredible beauty to words that are put together just so -- hilarity that makes you giggle and grin, scenes so clearly written that you can feel all the details, and then that perfect mmm that comes with a bite of masterfully made food or a perfectly crafted phrase (literary dork much?). For me, Going Somew
Dianne Fallon
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Author Brian Benson skillfully presents himself as a self-absorbed twenty-something sometimes obnoxious jerk, which is the key to the book's success. Instead of reading the book and thinking, "This guy is annoying," the reader can smile as the author paints a portrait of a young man trying to find his way on a bicycle. I picked up this book because I did a similar cross-country trip and wanted to see how the author approached condensing months of sometimes-tedious travel into an entertaining nar ...more
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Wild" [Chery Strayed] on a bike only from a male POV with more sex and no drugs--unless you count getting high on endorphins as drug use. ...more
Joseph Jindrich
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A seminal piece of the millennial generation! A view inside the brain, relationship, and cycling experience of an incredibly witty, hyper-aware, delightfully indecisive twenty-something chasing something. I could not put it down, it belongs in the upper crust of all the other page turning fun memoirs that have surprised me in the past. Benson has this ability to describe indescribably hilarious things, from what his parents dumb golden retriever is thinking, to harnessing the points of joy when ...more
Ron S
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
An emo rides with his girlfriend from Wisconsin to Portland. Overloaded panniers contain a fraction of the weight of the insecurities, guilt and lack of direction that go along for the ride. Just reading about the author's relationship with his girlfriend was smothering; I kept waiting for her to dump him, hoping it would force a meaningful catharthis and make the book more interesting in its aftermath. No such luck. ...more
Robert Case
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, bikes-cycling
This book, Going Somewhere, by Brian Benson, is a finely detailed description of the author's bicycle journey across a northern tier of western states in the not too distant past. He and his partner, a girlfriend, are pedaling from east to west and against the prevailing winds, leaving from his childhood home and ending at hers in Portland, Oregon. The dream is hers to make the journey by bicycle. Benson doesn't want to be without her. He follows along. They plan the route together, shop for gea ...more
Heather Long
May 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was like talking to any of my funny and thoughtful friends about what kind of adventures they have been up to. It made my cabin fever act up, and now I want to ride bike for days and weeks and months.
Celeste Hamilton Dennis
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Okay, here's the thing: I like bikes, but I only ride mine to work and I'm that girl you see walking it up a hill sometimes. I like the outdoors, but I'm a glamper, not a camper, and mountains scare me. So Going Somewhere was not my usual type of book to read.

Once I started it, though, I couldn't put it down. I absolutely had to know what was going to happen at each mile.

I’ve never traveled across America by car or bike. But with each word of Brian's inviting prose and brake-tight descriptions
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have a chronic case of wanderlust, so GOING SOMEWHERE was an easy choice for me and a relatable read the whole way through. Brian writes with wit and honesty, showing us a twentysomething's open-hearted tenderness. I, too, hail from Wisconsin, have adopted the West my home-away-from-home, and have traveled a handful of times (by car) the distance between the two.

Imagining myself along similar roads traveled, Brian's landscape descriptions trump anything stored in my memory. His writing is stu
Nicki Conroy
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing journey! Have you ever sat on a bike for more than an hour? I know that I could not ride the distances that Brian and Rachel did in this book. More important than the fitness necessary for the journey are the life lessons that are learned throughout Going Somewhere.

Brian had to deal with many facts that float in his head as he is mostly leading the two of them on the almost 2,500 mile trip from Wisconsin to Oregon. On top of the environmental issues of heat and wind, there are oc
Suzannah Hoppe-washburn
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Travel, adventure is probably my favorite genre right now. I liked the book enough, because of the adventure, but it was obviously written by a young man without a lot of life experiences-for example how was the trip even being supported financially and through his writing you could tell that.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a free copy from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

This is a true story--as true as a memory recreated from interviews and diaries can be—told looking back on the events, which gives it a nostalgic feel.

Brian has an aimless life until he meets Rachel. She isn’t quite available, but he’s patient, and eventually that patience is rewarded with a relationship. When she tells him about a dream of hers—to ride a bicycle across the US, he encourages those dreams and hitches alon
Dani Shuping
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: not-amazon
ARC provided by NetGalley

Everyone, regardless of where they are in the world or the path they’re going down, eventually takes a path that leads them to figure out what they should be and how they should be. Many try to write their tale down, not always succeeding, but Brian presents his story well and is different from the usual coming of age story. Brian and a young woman he meets named Rachel, decide to bicycle across northern Wisconsin to somewhere west and enjoy the world that they see. They
Rebecca Garcia
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
an enjoyable, entertaining read. a crisp, fresh, honest, sexy, funny writing voice. we too struggle with "where ARE we going?" and "what do we do after this?" even as we so thoroughly experience the moment in the journey "along the way". I could relate to some of the trials and tribulations of travelling such distances on a wing and a whim, some of the serendipitous encounters and joys. however, I can NOT imagine riding 80 to 100 miles on a bike! day after day. uphill and down. up mountain and d ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Oh my gosh. This book was so lovely. I was a little worried that since I've had it on hold at the library forEVER and I've been looking forward to it forEVER it would have a hard time living up to my overinflated anticipation. But heck no. I loved it.

First of all, I'm a sucker for a bike story. And a love story--romantic love, sure, but also just fricken love of life. And even if it were neither of those, I'm definitely a sucker for well-written, which this is in spades. I tried really, really
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
First, anything with A Bicycle Journey Across America in the title and I'm in. It's a story about boy meets girl with a 2,000+ mile bike journey as the centerpiece. I quickly found myself turning pages at a rapid rate (a personal best type of rate). Easily getting immersed in the authors description of his surroundings and the phases of his relationship with the girl. I found I wanted to be a "third wheel", literally, in their journey at times. Brain Benson's writing style is clever in it's tran ...more
Susan Emmet
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found Brian Benson's memoir on the "new" shelf at the library.
His trip with Rachel (they met in Guatamala while he tried to find himself and she worked and sang and then they both made music)is a fine one. I wasn't bothered by the privileged college grad sans direction who decided to bike with Rachel from his home in Wisconsin to her home in Portland, Oregon.
Tough trip; enlightening trip. The highs and lows are visceral.
And yet the questions persist.
Benson readily sees his own joy and stupidi
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this book on the final 2 days of a 2 week road trip, and it really grew on me. At first, I was just intrigued with the idea of riding across the country on a bike. And while the author came across as a little flat to me in the first third, there was eventually enough humor, drama and introspection to keep me propelled through the book.

I can't help but wish that I could hear what the road trip was like from Rachel's view however, as the author is admittedly a bit self focused. Her charact
Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile
This sits right in the middle at 3 stars. I loved the telling of the journey, but I did not like the mood and emotional setting of the book. While of course I understand what a hard trip this would be and what it would do to your personal relationship with someone, it made for bleak reading. Oftentimes I had to push myself to pick the book back up to get a little further. I couldn't enjoy the travel-reading due to them either fighting, silently hating each other, or just being pessimistic in gen ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read because of its honesty and lovely character. My copy is dog eared with cities to someday visit!
Jun 06, 2014 rated it liked it
I love a good travelogue, but this was a tough book for me to finish. Benson's description of rural American life and scenery are wonderful and could easily inspire. However, he has a rather heavy hand when it comes to drawing a metaphorical connection between the bicycle trip and his life journey. Additionally, the tone feels inconsistent as we move between the voice of a self-absorbed twenty-something and a more attuned adult reflecting on the experience.

This was probably somewhere closer to
Aug 15, 2014 rated it liked it
I was excited to read Going Somewhere because it’s been compared to Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which I enjoyed. (There’s even a blurb from her on the cover.) Sadly, I was disappointed.

It’s not that Going Somewhere was bad. It just wasn’t what I was hoping for. It felt shallow somehow, immature, like the book was supposed to be profound somehow, but it never really was. It also felt repetitive.

The redeeming characteristic was Benson’s writing style. He truly has a way with words, simultaneously play
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Brian definitely thinks a cross country bike trip is extraordinary and it probably is, but this book did not draw me in like I wanted it to. There are some moments where I felt a connection to Brian as he discovers more about himself and his relationship with his girlfriend. However, many times Brian’s words did not connect with me or he used a let-me-create-an-adjective-here word. Many cities and many characters fail to be memorable and end up blurring together by the end. The Epilogue is my fa ...more
Brian and Rachel set off on bikes across the country, testing their strength and relationship during the thrilling and grueling days in the saddle. Written from Brian's point of view, he spends a lot of time being apologetic for his white maleness and inspecting his interactions with Rachel. I loved the descriptions of the ride and both the good and bad feelings (physical and emotional) that went with it. However, Brian's voice got a little whiny at times and I often wished that Rachel was the v ...more
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So excited for my dear friend Brian Benson's literary debut! An adventure/love story/comedy about biking cross-country with his girlfriend, and self-discovery along the way. Awesome descriptions (I'm partial to the Wisconsin sections, but I'm biased), hilarious moments, great writing, and a memorable stop in Idaho during which they crash at my apartment :) Highly recommend for fans of travel/cycling, or anyone who meandered angstily through their 20s... ...more
Krista Fornear
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A very fast read I simply couldn't put Going Somewhere down! Brian Benson's personal memoir is an honest insight into not only what it takes to bike across country but also doing so with someone whom you are in a relationship with. Extremely well written adventure with a sense of wonder, humor, grace and a poignant view of relationships in our lives. ...more
Janet Elsbach
It's hard to feature how two people with such advanced (and hilariously, extensively described) butt-fatigue from miles on a bike seat could tolerate as much sex at the end (or sometimes in the middle) of the day as the couple in this book, but maybe I have just forgotten what is was like to be in my twenties. An engaging travelogue, funny and thought-provoking and well written. ...more
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is really good, capturing a 2500 mile bicycle journey, but also a love affair, and the kindness of strangers. And the Mesabi Trail is now on my bicycle tourism list. This is a book that makes you want to hop on your bike and set out for places unknown.
Sep 24, 2014 rated it liked it
It picked up over the last half but I didn't really connect with the narrator, maybe because of his youth, but I felt he was a bit too self-aggrandizing to be relatable. Fun to read about the bike trip though - I alternated between wanting to do one myself and never wanting to do one. ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Mostly I was just horrified at their lack of preparation for a cross country bike trip.
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Brian Benson is the author of Going Somewhere (Plume, 2014) and co-author, with Richard Brown, of This Is Not For You (OSU Press, 2021). He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches at the Attic Institute and facilitates free workshops in schools, treatment centers, and affordable housing.

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“If I had my way, the trip’s every moment would be a Moment—ripe with meaning, worthy of at least a sidebar or infographic in my personal history book. I looked back to the road, followed the pavement” 1 likes
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