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Life is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  548 ratings  ·  102 reviews
Based on his popular series in the New York Times chronicling his cross-country bicycle trip, bestselling author Bruce Weber shares his adventures from his solo ride across the USA.

Riding a bicycle across the US is one of those bucket-list goals that many dream about but few achieve. Bestselling author and New York Times reporter Bruce Weber made the trip, solo, over the s
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by Scribner (first published August 13th 2013)
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Mikey B.
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author of this book is a talented writer and introspective – this is not a superficial travelogue. The book sparkles – and entertains. For the most part it is about his journey by bicycle across the United States as he approaches the age of sixty. This is currently my age – and I did some bicycling years ago in my younger days – so this book appealed to me from the outset.

Page 114-15 (my book) – while cycling in Montana

This may a good time for a disquisition on wind, which is, naturally, a h
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love any kind of true adventure but I have a real soft spot for biking adventures, probably because the first book I read of this kind was MILES FROM NOWHERE by Barbara Savage, now considered a classic. Since my longest bike rides consist of a 6-mile loop in an urban park without traffic, it's beyond my comprehension to ever want to ride all the way across the United States, but that's what many people do and live to tell about it.

Bruce Weber had bicycled across the U.S. at age 39 but decided
I got this book thinking it was about his trip across America by bike. While it was a little, it was mostly a memoir about an aging baby boomer who was a complete stranger to me. He acknowledged that most New Yorkers (the city, not the state) don't really care or even know the rest of the country exists and if anything, thinks the rest of the country is provincial. He must too, as he didn't tell the rich stories that other accounts about bike travel across the US have done. (see crazyguyonabike. ...more
Kay Sakamoto
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Not quite what I was expecting (in a good way). Author Bruce Webber mixes travelogue with ruminations on friends, family, significant others, and mortality as he rides from coast-to-coast for the second time (his first was in 1993). Recommended for cyclists and non-cyclists alike.
Mar 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I confess I only persisted about 25 pages into Weber's book. Like other reviewers here, I found that he focused on inconsequential things; mostly his own life and reactions, but for some reason I did not find his choices that compelling. I wanted him to focus on his surroundings, but he was too busy focusing on himself. Sometimes that works, but like another reviewer, I just did not like him enough to keep reading.

I am also the reader who got exhausted halfway through Bill Bryson's book about hi
Mary Havens
It took a while to get into his writing style (kind of dry and "dude-ish") but I loved the clarity and honesty that he presented. The best parts are synopses of American life and his other travels he has taken by bike. The not-so-great parts, for me, were technical details about bikes and road logs. A book about traveling and self-discovery. Recommended for all adventurers, bike enthusiasts, and people that "get" why anyone would travel cross country in anything but a car. ...more
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this travelogue of author Bruce Weber's bike ride across America. I believe that I'm an expert reader of this type of travel writing and this is one of the best. This is in my top three with Bill Bryson's A walk in the woods being number one, Life is a wheel is number 2 and The handsomest man in Cuba by Lynette Chiang as number 3. ...more
Dee Mills
I enjoyed the book when he wrote about riding and what he was seeing, who he was meeting, etc. I thought he was too obsessed with details of his life, the eulogies that he has given. He has a nice, casual style. I wanted more about the travel adventure and less about his angst.
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
I have always enjoyed riding a bicycle, so I was interested in Weber's story of cycling from coast to coast (something I will never do - too old). Weber is a quirky rider, creating some unnecessary anxieties because he fails to plan too far down the road. Early on, I thought, "sheesh - dumb" a few times. However, Weber owns his failures and "spins" an absorbing tale that had me hoping and praying for his success. A well-written story that goes down a few rabbit holes (e.g., bike trip in Vietnam ...more
Louise B
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having completed a cross country bike ride last summer, I can’t seem to get enough of other accounts of the same adventure. Bruce Weber’s Life is a Wheel did not disappoint. The same questions I encountered every day on the ride are the same ones I want to ask other riders and are the same ones the author answers adeptly, showing his mark as someone who writes for a living.
These questions include: What motivated you to do this ride? What route are you taking? What do you think about while you r
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weber is a good writer, and steady cyclist, who captures the challenges, joys, frustration, and pace of biking across country. It was interesting to compare my recollections of some of the same cities, albeit 25 years earlier than his ride. Life happens, and being in a bike seat makes one contemplate on both Big questions -- life, love, family, relationships - -and little questions -- where is that hotel? what am I eating today for lunch? In the end, all of these questions are equally important. ...more
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a cyclist myself, I really enjoyed Bruce’s travelogue across the country along with his great storytelling. Personally, I would never spend that much time in the saddle but it was fun to read about it. This book also has special meaning to me, it’s was a hand-me-down from my cousin who died recently. It made me think of him often and his great passion for cycling.
Larry Hamilton
Being an avid cyclist, I wished this book covered a little more of that aspect, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. The two chapters on riding through North Vietnam shortly after diplomatic relations were established was fascinating.
Eve Kofsky
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoyed this book! I’m sure that my tandem ride across the USA last year has something to do with my thorough enjoyment of this story. This was another “analog” book on my pile (since it came out in 2014)! It’s really well written and worth a read if you can find it!
North Landesman
A book about a guy who takes a cross-country bike ride at age 59. I enjoyed the descriptions of what Montana was like and the people he met along the way. Overall, too much of it was introspection, not enough description. Agree with most of the other reviewers here.
I was disappointed in this book because it didn't deliver what I had hoped. The book was full of asides about the author's life, and not as much about riding trails as I wanted. I hoped it would inspire vacation plans; it didn't. ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little bit each of love story, grueling days biking, health problems, and reflecting on life. It didn't capture my attention to the degree I wanted it to. ...more
Tyler Anderson
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Good book for a rider

Glad there were photos . Towards the end started putting me to sleep. Did give me inspiration to ride yes. Almost went to far to fast
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better cross country cycling books.
Amy Jacobsen
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biking
Enjoy reading any book about cross country cycling adventures. This one included more details about other aspects of his life than I cared to know about. Overall glad I read it
Not sure what I was expecting, biking as a Dharma Wheel of noble truths? A spinning version of On the Road? Nothing freewheeling about this account. Returned to the library after just a few pages.
James Thompson
Oct 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting account of an old guy who rode his bike across the country, something I have contemplated myself. Not sure whether I got any particularly good insights or ideas about how to go about it.
Kirk Astroth
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book about the author's second cross-country bike ride from Astoria to New York. Loved reading the portions about his trip across Montana--in Chester and Circle for example. The chapters about Vietnam and 9/11 seemed incongruous and slightly out of place. Great observations about cycling though and why we do it. He has some very funny passages as well. Worth a read. ...more
Juniper Lim
This book was inspirational and uplifting. The author keeps things moving smoothly even when the road he ends up taking is perilous. I would want Bruce Weber to host California Gold if it ever came back that other guy was annoying. ☺
Sam Sattler
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, travel
I've long been fascinated by personal recollections of cross-country (or cross-continental) treks by foot or two-wheeler, and Bruce Weber's "Life Is a Wheel" is a worthy addition to my collection of such books.

In 2011, at age 57, Weber decided to make his second transcontinental bicycle ride across the United States, beginning in northern California and ending at his own doorstep in New York City. Weber already had one of these adventures under his belt, a trip he successfully completed when he
Jodi Jacobson
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bruce Weber, a NYT journalist and obituarist (which is what he was doing when he undertook his second cycling trip across the United States), has written a simple, straightforward diary of his trip, interspersed with reflections on his earlier life, love, travel, and losses.

This is not a high-flying literary book or memoir. The writing is by turns clear and to-the-point and sometimes a bit crass, though not if you are a New Yorker. In other words, as someone who does not always mince words when
Sep 06, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-give-up, cycling
A few years ago when I read the NYTimes more regularly, I saw an article by this fellow describing part of a bike trip he was making solo coast to coast across the US. I read it but for some reason I found it less than compelling and didn't bother to try to find other articles in the series.

More recently while trawling in an online catalog for new-ish books about cycling, I found a record for this book, which he created by reworking and expanding on the articles published in the Times. Somewhat
Bruce Crawford
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Bruce Weber's novel "Life Is A Wheel" in which he recounts his journey cycling west across the U.S. Very interesting at multiple levels: the cycling; making/meeting connecting with friends; thoughts about his life in his 50's: the now and different things before; the landscape and people from one region to another; discovering the 'cycling across America' subculture. Good fun worthwhile read!

"... A long bike ride comes close to being transcendental ... Cycling is a consuming enterprise
Apr 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What is distance, after all, but experience?"

"Life Is A Wheel" by Bruce Weber is a fairly simple book about a man as he rides his (very expensive) bike across the United States.

The book chronicles the trip from Oregon to New York with intermittent advice about distance cycling, personal anecdotes, logistical notes and observations of middle America.

The book is quick easy to read, in fact at some points it was hard to put down, however I also found it to be devoid of any deep, compelling sense o
For a cyclist, this book rang true time and time again. From the aching "sit-bones" to the head games we play as we try to calculate our arrival time to the relief that overtakes us when the narrow highway shoulder finally opens up or an alternate route suddenly appears, I nodded my head over and over, resonating with Bruce's experience. He blended recollections about his own life - stories about his mom and dad, past and present romances, and the death of a longtime friend - with the nitty-grit ...more
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“It shouldn’t be a surprise—and it pleases me no end—that Beckett was an avid cyclist. “The bicycle is a great good,” he once wrote. “But it can turn nasty, if ill employed.” 0 likes
“I found the stack of letters on my desk when I got back. People really liked the idea of the trip; they found it romantic—and I think they were amused, learning where I was popping up from week to week—but I didn’t know that while it was happening. Aside from other cyclists I encountered on the road occasionally and the people I interviewed along the way, I pedaled along in pretty much total isolation” 0 likes
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