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The Road Headed West: America Coast to Coast: A Cycling Odyssey

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  272 ratings  ·  42 reviews
IT SEEMED A TERRIBLE SHAME TO MEET MY END IN IOWA; I couldn’t imagine anywhere more disappointing to die. If I were a betting man I’d have reckoned on the most dangerous thing in this state being sheer boredom. The scenery hadn’t changed for weeks and I was slowly dissolving into stimulation-deprived madness. My current predicament, then – attempting to escape through corn ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 7th 2014 by Summersdale (first published January 1st 2014)
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For some people, the offer of a job with a regular salary is just what they are looking for. For Leon McCarron though the thought of being stuck behind a desk with no chance of adventure or seeing the world, filled him with dread. As he was in New York, he came up with the idea of cycling from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, not for any reason, just for the hell of doing it. Loading up his bike and trailer with much, much more than he needed, he embarks on his 6000 mile journey. A week or so ...more
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An honest recount by Leon McCarron's of his bike ride across North America. It is an inspiring journey which he took after feeling disconected in a 9 to 5 job. The book details all the ups and downs of his journey, from being confronted by a gun weilding drunken to the many friendships he forged on the road.

A brilliant read of an incredible journey, which I highly recommend.
Aug 21, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ach! A compendium of how not to do a long-distance bicycle ride:
* ride to Coney Island and back as conditioning
* start with a hangover
* head out of town on a bridge that's closed on Sunday
* take no maps
* ride across the continent into the prevailing winds (and then repeat going south along the West Coast)
* over-pack, including hauling a trailer
* have no experience in bicycle maintenance
* head for Canada without a visa (the author's Irish)
* not know how to pack a propane bottle to prevent it from
an interesting bike travel book in that author is total rookie bike rider, going from nyc to seattle, he makes it too! and ends up then going to mexico, then ends up thesiger-like, trekking all over the globe, from empty quarter, to iran's longest river, to gobi on foot. this bike book written retrospectively, gains from his insights into fear, grabbing your dreams and not letting go, and putting history, geography, sociology, into perspective, but loses in day-to-day immediacy and the 'typical' ...more
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I enjoyed this book, cover to cover. Oh to be 23 and Irish and biking across the U.S.A., with life and the world before me! I had a number of laugh-out-loud moments. This is not the tale of someone who trained for years (or even minutes!) for this adventure, just the tale of someone who sort of stumbled into this ride while waiting for the recession to recede. In the end, this ride launched what appears to be--to date--a successful career. I look forward to finding more by this author.
Stan Blackburn
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Leon has an amazing sense of adventure throughout his documented bike ride across America. This book reminds me of 'Into the Wild,' 'Travels with Charley,' and 'A Walk in the Woods,' all books I love. Reading this in smaller pieces (20-25 pages at a time) seemed to work best for me, digesting bits and pieces of Leon's travels and insightful wisdom along the journey. ...more
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'll admit it, I loved this book. As others have noted, the author didn't prepare well for a cross-country bike ride, and didn't know that much about bikes for the duration. But I'm OK with the democratization of bike touring, and really appreciate the open attitude that develops with the practice of it. The chapters are short, and except for the oddly positioned first story, are chronological. There's some inconsistencies, such as when he determines he wants to ride alone after riding with Suzi ...more
Stephen Ebersole
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An accurate account of cross contry

I also rode cross country in 2002. I found this book to be a very accurate account of my personal growth and development along the journey. You begin a trip of this scope with a lot of uncertainty, first it is just can I physically do this but once you realize you can you begin finding out other things about what really matters to you. Your values. It is an amazing privilege to take 50 or more days and do just one thing (other than work) . Through out the day t
This reminded me a bit of Bill Bryson's A WALK IN THE WOODS, in that the author is not really prepared for such a grueling physical feat but perseveres anyway. Unfortunately, it lacks the writing skills and humor of Bryson but it is still an interesting read for anyone who can't get enough of this kind of travel narrative.

If a reader wants to read a good armchair biking adventure and hasn't read Barbara Savage's MILES FROM NOWHERE or Bruce Weber's LIFE IS A WHEEL, I recommend reading them first
Jessica Fellows
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I initially liked the sense of adventure by someone who appeared to just do it. About half way through it began to disturb me how little he author was interested in the places he would be traveling through. The author seemed to be traveling almost out of spite of having anything else to do. He rides because why not. The book seemed to be more about is emotional journey to find purpose and honestly his riding the bike across the country is really more about killing time in some way for him.
Not w
Aaron Dutton
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a story of the development of a personal philosophy, wrapped in the journal of a cross-country bicycle adventure. This book really spoke to me as someone planning to ride a bicycle tour this summer. A lot of the philosophy rings true with me.

I'm not sure why this book doesn't have better reviews. Yes, the author makes a number of beginner mistakes and some questionable gear choices. This isn't a how-to book for bicycle touring, it's a personal memoir. The pages flew by and I was a bit s
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-19
Spinningly good adventure told by an Irishman cycling across America. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out things the natives overlook or ignore out of habit, and Mr. Mccaron was just outsider enough to do the job. Great job!

Other than an oddness about the ending, which I'll be considerate and not reveal to you here, I enjoyed every single page. Personalities abound--old friends, trail friends, traveling and stationary friends--they all make their appearances and enliven the journey. It's
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-give-up, cycling
I got more than 50 and less than 100 pages into this, the stopped. The Irish author endeavors to ride across the country, east to west, and then describes it in this memoir.

Fine - I read "cyclist travel" books often enough. Somehow these days however I find it harder to enjoy ones ones written by persons from other countries (AKA "foreigners") about their travails in America. And that I guess is the problem - too much about travails, and not much about insights that are useful at this time. It
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book and the author's attitude about his journey. Mccarronwho was underemployed during the 2008 recession, decided to bike across North America, not in a race but for the experience of meeting new people and seeing new places. But he was mindful of his journey and rarely went out of his way to tourist spots and met some deadlines. It is too bad because I think he missed cross country bike trails.Oh well. He makes minor errors as a non American would (refers to Philadelphia wh ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
The last half of this book is great and lives up to its promise on the jacket to inspire me to ride more. The author introduces to book by saying he was riding to explore the middle of the country and get to know the US better. He admits to being a bit snobby and making assumptions and judgements about a place he'd never been. What we find out, though, is that he never really does learn to like midwesterners. He journey proves to him that the Midwest is just as bad as he thought. About halfway t ...more
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
armchair traveling! i liked this more than i like most bike-tour books by men. i also love that he does nearly everything wrong; that's my favorite way of bike touring--totally half-assed and just open to adventure. he's a good storyteller and a likable narrator. one thing he mentions several times is that bike touring is "often miserable, often boring, sometimes both, and the rest that's left over is divine." that's a super accurate description of bike touring, which means it's hard to write ab ...more
Lukasz Lukomski
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have to admit, it is a bit uneven. But at the same time it is one of the best portrayals of cycle touring. ' It is a curious thing about bicycle touring. So much of it is, in fact, boring; quite probably the vast majority. Another large proportion is miserable. A smaller percentage is both. Whatever is left over, though: that is superb." ...more
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. Some of the harsher reviews are focused on the travail McCarron experienced in the US, which to US citizens can seem a bit overblown. Living abroad I can appreciate the difficulty in understanding culture and how sometimes our own cultural norms seem right rather than just different. McCarron's style is definitely varied, but not distracting. The book is worth a read. ...more
Marty Nicholas
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good writer. Enjoyable reading. First adventure in what has become an adventurous life. One slight quibble...the Calif. coastal range, while mountains, are not by any measure the Sierra Nevada. Either in size or placement on the planet. Difficult to see how that error could remain in what is a well written, unassuming book.
Darlene Jaratz
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I need a bike trip!

I liked this young Irish man's stories of riding westward across the US. He gained vast amount of self confidence and fitness,you could feel it in the book. From such a novice he turns into a world traveler. I am inspired.
Kim McClaren
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun read with some great adventure

Leon has a great sense of humor and great insight into human nature. The bike trip was inspirational. It was hard to put down. But, once in a while you have to do other things.😊
Praveen Namboothiri
Jan 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
The dude whines on a bike ride across north America, that's about it. He is not interested in the sights, the locals, history or anything. I think he needed new stuff to whine about. Oh, and he hates Bryan. ...more
Amy Jacobsen
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biking
Fun read, stoked my vision for bike touring.
Grim-Anal King
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Engaging but too many tall stories and too much lazily prejudiced commentary on prejudice.
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good, fast read; a little preachy at the end.
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Road Headed West
Author: Leon McCarron
Publisher: Herman Graf Book / Skyhorse Publishing / Summersdale Publishing
Published In: New York City, NY
Date: 2014
Pgs: 349

A 6000 mile cycling odyssey from New York City to Seattle and points south.

Autobiography and memoir
Science and nature
Travel guides
Travel writing

Why this book:
The description reminds me of The Incredible Voyage by Tristan Jones, one of my
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I'm on my death bed someday, I imagine I will reminisce about riding my bike. I'm addicted to the wind and the rush of racing down a hill. I love the torture of climbing and a long day spent pushing myself-just me and whatever lies ahead. I also live for the wonderful calorie-packed snacks and meals that I can enjoy and feel as though I deserve them.
I really liked this book, but these two aspects were missing for me: the pain of the ride and the FOOD! The author really down-played the stre
Nov 23, 2014 rated it liked it
An engaging and informative account of cycling across America. Not only do you get the headline of crossing America, Leon's attitude is interesting. He cycles and sees what he sees, not diverting, for the most part, to see what is interesting nearby. This is refreshing in many ways because normally the detours are included because the places are worth visiting. The downside though is that this does wear a bit thin as the downside is he misses a lot of interesting stuff. He also seems to get bore ...more
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Largely self-indulgent and inconsistent: one minute the author is irritated by other people and how dare tourists get in his way!, the next being charming to Americans in order to get food and accommodation. There was a tone of judgement throughout the book about how other people chose to travel, and of tourist locations and "overweight Americans". Also, large chunks of his book was whinging about how boring the cycling can be, or how dull the landscape around him was (especially in the Midwest) ...more
Sep 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cycling-books
This is a book that either explains everything that could go wrong or shouldn't be attempted when cycling across North America or is a simple book about how the Irish like to cycle.

This book taught me valuable things like 'don't get into cars with drunk people' or 'do not attempt cycling on the interstate'. Leon either wrote a manual on how not to long-distance cycle or set an example of chucking caution to the wind and just getting out there having some fun and doing it.

This was a quick, easy,
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