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Ride of Your Life: A coast-to-coast guide to finding inner peace

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What lessons could you learn from a once in a lifetime adventure?

In 2010, research scientist and entrepreneur Ran Zilca left his home in New York on a motorcycle, bound for California in search of answers to questions he did not even realize he had. During the soul-seeking 34 days that followed, he rode solo through the back roads, mountains, cities, and heart of the United States. He spent hundreds of hours in contemplation, met with dozens of people from all walks of life who shared the road with him, and interviewed leading experts in research labs, spiritual centers, and temples all across the country. 6,000 miles later he returned home with answers and an overwhelming desire to share his learnings with the world.

Taking the collective knowledge of experts and researchers (including Deepak Chopra, Phil Zimbardo, and Sonja Lyubomirsky), the lifetimes of experience of the people he met, and the silent wisdom of the road, Zilca has compiled this guide to finding inner peace.

Ride of your Life brings this experience to you, along with the simple, eternal truths that emerged as a practical guide for a happier life.

184 pages, Paperback

First published December 8, 2014

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About the author

Ran Zilca

5 books36 followers
Ran Zilca is a research scientist, technology entrepreneur, and certified personal coach, who pioneered the use of mobile devices to deliver programs of positive personal transformation.

With a combination of psychological research and computer science, Ran’s companies develop innovative programs of personal growth and have worked closely with partners like Deepak Chopra and Stephen Covey. His research in engineering and psychology has been published in major scientific publications in the past 22 years, and his weekly posts on major blogs attract hundreds of thousands of readers each month.

Ran is a loving husband and father of three, a guitar player, and a biker. In the course of his work, he developed a step-by-step process of personal transformation and followed it in his life. The result was a 6,000 mile solo motorcycle ride across the country, a new book, the sale of his company, and a move to a different continent.

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Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Yodamom.
1,980 reviews194 followers
February 13, 2016
What a dream trip this man took. I admit to being envious. The solitude, peace and loneliness that comes with being on your own after so many years of life's crowded ways. The world has become so busy and we have easily fallen into it's chaos. Imagine taking time to just go on quest across the country on a motorcycle that you couldn't even drive a few weeks ago. Taking time to meet with strangers, leaders in positive phycology, spiritual leaders and your own soul. Just imagine the person you would get to know.
He lead me on a fabulous journey. I laughed, worried, and nodded my head a lot at his "aha" moments. It really was all about finding yourself, by following your dreams. A trip like this would change anyones life. The insights from the professionals he talked to along the way were eye opening. A very interesting read.
Profile Image for Randal White.
780 reviews70 followers
February 12, 2016
If Only I Had The Courage! I really enjoyed this book, and wish that I had the courage to take up and go like the author did. Traveling cross-country, using the long hours on the road to just meditate on life and what is really important. And to supplement the journey with side trips to visit and pick the brains of other philosophers and "spiritual" people. Who knows, maybe someday?
Profile Image for Jacques Coulardeau.
Author 29 books29 followers
June 8, 2018

One more of these books about a ride across and around the USA looking for some kind of epiphany, revelation, enlightenment that comes from easy-going and free-wheeling enjoyment of a trip that has no problem since you are running on a very expensive motorbike, with a very comfortable bank account and a credit card, and with a full family in the back that can always run to you if by any chance you end up in a hospital, or even a cemetery or a morgue. There is no adventure if there is no pain and work to experience all along to just survive and earn the little money you need to eat, find some shelter and find a way to go to the next stage when you have the money to do so.

This trip, like the one of Steinbeck in his Travel with Charley or the one of William Least Heat-Moon in Blue Highways, and so many others of any race or creed, is a leisurely middle-class (even upper-middle-class due to the expensive motorbike) vacation in a life that provides no surprise any more. And what’s more he learned little from the road and the people he could have met and spent some time with, but he did not, because his target is to go from one place to another and meet there pre-arranged people for interviews, and these people are intellectuals of some kind or other, university, academic or simply of the spiritual preaching type lolling in comfortable resources. So do not develop any illusion about this book. It will not teach a lot to the vast majority of people who have to work hard to just survive or live on. We are not dealing here with a survivor but with a temporary escapist who is looking for comfortable thrills from motel to motel, from gas station top gas station, from no danger to no danger, from no effort to no effort.

He is obsessed by Buddhism and most people he meets are referring to this philosophy, including the Dalai Lama and his Scientific Exploration of Compassion and Altruism. This version of Buddhism is designed and in fact reconstructed to fit with the American middle-class. Buddhism is not a science. Buddhism is a philosophy and it is based on three concepts: impermanence (anicca), cyclical birth-life-death ternary curse (dukkha), and absolute instability of self (anatta). Buddhism is based on the fact that anyone, any individual can, engage with enlightenment that is a personal eightfold path that has to be trodden by each one of us individuals with the only strength of our mind, solving all difficulties of living and even surviving day after day, to eventually reach the end of it, enlightenment itself, nibbana in one word. It is an individual and difficult path that we have to walk with the sole resources we have and if possible resources we have to earn at every single step with a begging bowl or with our work. And yet we have to think of others and serve them as much as we can with compassion and love because it is our positive tasks of generosity and support to others that give us the proper energy to activate our minds towards our sole aim and target: nibbana, our enlightenment that is all the easier to reach if we have a lot of merit earned in the past by our actions of compassion and love to others.

The Buddhist version you find in this book is reductive and very trite with some, especially the last two, opinions that overemphasize the individualism of our consumer’s society and the rejection of past and future in some kind of equilibrium that must only benefit our present, with an allusion to homeless people without seeing that their day to day life is not their choice, is not a liberation but an enslavement, is not in any way ethical or altruistic but only the result of some kind of victimization our consumer’s society is imposing on the weaker among us, and I should even say imposing it with even more force on the weakest among us. Think please to the many million people who were foreclosured by banks in 2008-2009 by the subprime crisis which was the cruelest possible experiment of the banks and the rich to impose consumer’s society and enslaving credit and mortgages onto those who could not afford such luxury, and then turning their enslavement into a way to make money through speculation by a very few minority and to the sole benefit of this very small minority.

I find this book in many ways a sorry excuse for a wealthy man to make us believe he has some bangs of conscience in front of his daily pre-programmed and over-satisfied over-satisfying life. And he dares wrap that up in some kind of Buddhist discourse, with no compassion for others, no love given to anyone else but himself and his own, no support for anyone or anything that is not in any way a hazard in and to his life of enjoyment with no crisis apart from the midlife crisis of a wealthy man. He is, in other words, the slave of the situationist selfishness he advocates with others: he thinks, lives and imagines only what his wealthy situation of a middle-class or upper-middle-class MAN (and I mean here MALE) enables him to see, hear, experience, reflect upon etc.

The trip across the USA from coast to coast and back with no credit card, with no money in the bank, with no more than a ten-pound bag of clothing, is still to be done. Imagine Of Mice and Men, with two credit cards, two bank accounts, no work along the road, and a safe haven in the back to which George Milton and Lennie Small could always have come back, safe and unmenaced, unchallenged. Enjoy the story of a saturated mind in a body that has never known hunger or thirst, even in the Death Valley. And he did not even choose to stop in KOA camping sites. He used motels. Shame on that touristic more than easy riding trip that would have shamed Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) of an old hippy time film in which the two men and their Harley-Davidsons were at least trying to survive with nothing in their pockets and bags, except some marihuana, though they had some backland that was not entirely miserable and poor, be it only because of the Harley-Davidsons they were running. But they at least did not go to motels.

I was severely disappointed.

Profile Image for Ken Dickson.
Author 6 books74 followers
August 16, 2017
“The Ride forever changed the lens through which I see the world…” Ran Zilca

A few weeks ago, I had never heard of Ran Zilca, Nevertheless, when I learned of his nearly 6000-mile solo motorcycle journey from New York to San Francisco and then to San Diego, I was all ears. I had recently completed my own solo motorcycle trip and could not wait to read about his experiences.

Ran had spent a lifetime dreaming of such a ride and not one moment chasing that dream. That all changed when he decided to test-drive a motivational application that he had created. The software came to a surprising conclusion: that he should pursue his dream. Hooked, Ran obediently followed its seemingly supernatural guidance.

A year later, he was saying goodbye to his family, swinging his leg over his Yamaha V-Star 950, raising the kickstand and pressing the starter button. The Ride of His Life had begun. The ensuing miles yielded breathtaking views, fascinating strangers, bitter cold and the worst weather imaginable.

However, there is more to this thought-provoking story than Ran’s adventures on America’s scenic byways. As he rode for weeks on end, he shed the chains of his formerly stressful life and spread the wings of a truly free spirit awash in the glow of the present moment. Like a butterfly shedding its cocoon, the Ride changed him.

During his journey, Ran interviewed some of the wisest people on the planet: Coach Caroline Miller, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, Dr. Phil Zimbardo, Byron Katie, Deepak Chopra and Sonja Lyubomirsky. He then interleaved those interviews into his transformative tale like the icing in an already delectable layer cake.

I highly recommend The Ride of Your Life. Ran’s story resonated in my heart and his wisdom warmed my soul. Although we have never met in person, I could not help but feel that he is my friend. Thank you, Ran. I hope that you will continue to inspire and change lives.
Profile Image for Jodie "Bookish"  Cook.
1,717 reviews3 followers
January 28, 2017
Book Review
Title: Ride of your life: coast-to-coast guide to finding inner peace
Author: Ran Zilca
Genre: Non-fiction/Autobiographical
Rating: ****
Review: The forward by Phil Zimbardo was very inspiring, he describes Ran Zilca as an everyday hero as he was someone special, someone that refused to let his environment fringe what he was do and began going again the socially accepted flow. While only a few pages into the book I was extremely eager to hear more about Ran and learn more of his journey across America. Ran's life was especially good he was an extremely successful man who was living the American dream but he felt every decision he made tied him down further and that something was missing from his near perfect life.
He eventually discovered through inner reflection that he wanted to fulfill his childhood dream of being a biker and ride across the country, he sets himself on a journey to find inner peace through a long lost and recently found dream. After learning to ride a motorcycle Ran lays out his plan for a solo ride from New York to California with some stops on the way to talk to authors and psychology researchers where he will talk about his thoughts and feelings on video. Finally on September 29th 2010 he started his journey temporarily leaving behind his family and everything else about his life in search of the one thing he needs to complete himself.
It was fascinating to read about Ran’s preparations for the journey, how he went from dream to reality in the space of a short year. From his first time on a small motorcycle (and failing the safety test) to gaining the confidence and gear to make his journey, the reader is invited along. This isn’t, of course, a journey about just the miles. It’s also an inner journey of self-discovery and inner realization. Ran enlists the help of several luminaries along the way, including Barbara Fredrickson, Sonja Lyubomirsky and Philip Zimbardo, to help him to understand the science of his experiment (sample size = 1). Ran also learns from the individuals he meets along the way at truck stops, at gas stations, at motels and realizes that the “ride of your life” can take place even if you never leave your hometown.
Between the hours he spent each day riding in contemplation, the conversations with people that he randomly met along the way, and the expert interviews, Zilca managed to surface some unique food-for-thought and thought-provoking insights that are bound to leave you reassessing your own life and your decisions. Perhaps even more importantly, something in the writing style manages to weave these insights into a fun and smooth read, not taking itself too seriously, and touching on the core thoughts that most people have as they progress through life. I found myself resonating with the deliberations and concepts, but at the same also laughing, relaxing, and simply enjoying being taken on a ride. Something about the way everything is presented drew me in from the get go. Perhaps it’s Zilca’s background as an engineer and scientist. He attempts to portray things as he experiences them as accurately as possible, making you forget that you are reading someone else’s personal story, and feeling like the experience is truly your own.
In many respects, Ride of Your Life is also a tribute to the classic US road trip, off-the-interstate books (like Blue Highways, or On the Road, written before the interstate system was built). Sticking to the back roads and small towns, Zilca discovers the “real America” where life takes a different pace and a different perspective then the origin of his journey (New York) and the final Destination (California). Overall, this is a short, fun, and inspiring book that crosses the traditional boundaries of literary genres. Perfect to take on a trip with you or to read over a weekend, and I can easily see some people being driven to action or changing things in their life after reading it.
May 1, 2018
Not a motorcycle book!

Great book about finding your inner self. Good read for understanding mid life crisis and why some men go on a self awareness ride.
Profile Image for Jeff Maziarek.
Author 2 books22 followers
November 9, 2017
This book really appealed to me because not only am I an avid reader of books related to spirituality and personal growth, but I've also owned a motorcycle for 30 years. As a motorcycle rider I found the author's description of his day-to-day experiences on this coast-to-coast motorcycle trip to be very interesting, but more importantly, the life advice he received from both scientists and spiritual/personal growth teachers and/or authors was both insightful and very practical. I found this passage from the author Dr. Barbara Fredrickson to be very thought-provoking and valuable:

"I think, actually, that when people learn about the science of positive emotions or the positivity ratio, there's a temptation to make your motto, "I’m going to be positive." People think it will be easy. But think that strategy backfires because there is a huge difference between genuine positive emotions and insincere positive emotions. Insincere positive emotions or even wishful-thinking…sometimes we have insincere positive emotions because we want to make someone else think we're happy even though we really don't care: maybe it's the flight attendant saying goodbye to three hundred people leaving the plane, as part of a role. Other times, people learn about it and they so earnestly want to feel better that they strong-arm themselves into positive emotions rather than changing their thinking or their behavior first. So, I think that a much better motto than "be positive" is "be open," or be appreciative and kind.

"Be open" does wonders because, especially in our contemporary culture, we are so caught up in mental time travel ruminating about the past, or your mind telling you to think about this next thing that's coming in the future. We are constantly outside of the now. This is a great thing that humans can do, that other animals aren't able to – that mental time travel. It's a great human achievement, but it also robs us of the subtle experiences of goodness around us. I think that a really important strategy for being open is to just tune into all of your senses: look at the trees, feel the breeze on your skin when you’re on the motorcycle, just listening and really tuning into what your senses are telling you. That our quickest pathway into the present moment."

This is just one example of the type of wisdom and insight included in this wonderful book. As such, I highly recommend this title as a spiritual and personal growth resource, and, it's particularly a great read for anyone who has a genuine affection for motorcycling and who also ponders the deeper aspects of existence.
Profile Image for Judy Krings.
3 reviews1 follower
December 8, 2015
Ran Zilca's book oozes humanity. "Ride of Your Life" gifts you with thought-provoking passion and a scientific-based path to positivity. You feel his trials and tribulations and share his high-five moments as if you were there riding along side of him. I particularly loved the meaty chapters from three of my renowned positive psychology heroes and researchers, and my former coach trainers, Caroline Adams Miller, Barbara Fredrickson, and Sonja Lyubomirsky. That he scored these thought-leaders in positive psychology is remarkable and is a tribute to his motivation to make this book relevant, timely, and fun, too. Take this journey along with Ron and enjoy his travel memoir with a spiritual awakening chaser. Bet you get your own wake-up call, too. A great gift for all the motorcycle folks you know as well as for everyone who loves revving up their openness to change. My Harley husband loves this book, too.
Profile Image for Jen Gilbert.
126 reviews8 followers
December 12, 2014
This book has the potential to be a game changer for people. I felt so inspired as I read it. Zilca's words alternate between striking a profound chord interspersed with real humanity. I laughed at times. I marked the page to return to at times. And all in all I found it to contain real depth in a style that was easy to read. I learned and grew as a person without realizing it since the book was so enjoyable.

In the spirit of full-disclosure, I work for the publisher of this book. This did not impact my review. I
1 review
December 13, 2015
This was a wonderfully written quick read that documents Ran's solo motorcycle journey across the USA. The book reminds us of the importance of facing our fears, living in the moment, and finding happiness. I especially love how Ran has interwoven his daily road experiences with insightful interviews with thought leaders. This book was truly a delight to read!
Profile Image for Terry Graap.
113 reviews4 followers
February 14, 2015
I enjoyed it immensely. The travels of a lone motorcycle rider from the East Coast to the West Coast. Stops on the way to talk to psychologists and philosophers. A tremendous read. Thanks, Ron Zilca.
Profile Image for Janie.
25 reviews
March 1, 2018
I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway and I am glad I did!!! It is an inspirational story about the cross country journey of a lone motorcycle rider. He stops along the way to talk to inspirational guests and philosophers who inspire him as well. I love that the author gives us bullet points in each visit with these people of things that he learned from each of them. This provides a nice way to come back to each chapter and reread these points for enlightenment. Thank you Goodreads for this book!
1 review
May 23, 2020
A pleasure to read this mans experience as a first time rider on such a good long trip across the U.S. he describes the experience well down to the smallest details, he’s honest and truthful and shares his intimate thoughts with the reader. Highly philosophical about life and connecting with his highly educated famous friends who are filled with wisdom.
Bravo.. I would suggest doing the ride again with an altered route, make it a round trip with camping. Three main daily thoughts on a ride like this: Food, fuel, lodging. America is the best place to make these dreams come true.
30 reviews
March 3, 2018
Thank you for this giveaway, I enjoyed this easy read book. It was full of insight and meaning.
Profile Image for Wendy Booker.
11 reviews
April 16, 2018
It’s the male Eat Pray Love. I did like some of the bulleted summaries from the interviews. But I didn’t really feel the transformation or find it relatable.
89 reviews
March 27, 2018
This book was a combination travelogue and self help review. The author, like many, seemingly had it all - beautiful family, successful career, nice home, good health - but felt that something was missing. He decided to resurrect a childhood dream of motorcycling across the country.

He made the trip in about 5 weeks, chronicling the daily activities, feelings, and people he interacted with. He also stopped along the way to interview a variety of professionals dedicated to the study of happiness & contentment in today's world.

The result is an entertaining story of the country with a nice light review of diverse thoughts on what it means to be happy and how to attain satisfaction in life.

Overall, a pleasant and satisfying read.
Profile Image for Charlotte Klein.
13 reviews
February 20, 2016
I want to preface by saying two things:

1) I received this book in exchange for a review. All opinions are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way


2) In high school I read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"--I only liked the Zen parts of this book.

That said... This was an enjoyable quick read and there are a lot of things about this book that I really loved: the author's self-awareness and deep desire for enlightenment. His loving family who accepted and supported his quest. Ran's self-deprecating sense of self/humor (like when he calls himself the biggest dork to ever frequent a biker bar). I loved following along on his journey; learning about the people he met and his thoughts from the road. It is, after all, an adventure I think we'd all love to make.

The cons:
I craved more. I didn't feel this book really got into the meat of the matter and the purpose for his expedition. Ran's journey from coast to coast should have been lengthier than the bulk of this 175 pages. I also hate to say this because I understand this intrinsic nomadic spirit but there were segments when I felt his journey seemed selfish. Or maybe I would have liked to hear more from the wife--what were her real thoughts about this journey, and would she have liked to embark on an adventure much like the one her husband took? Why was she stuck at home with the children with mounting responsibilities/day-to-day struggles?

Pieces of the book felt very disjointed, like the interviews with professionals in the scientific/psychology field. I feel as though these would have been better suited in an accompanying memoir, not shoved between the pages of roadside enlightenment. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" was mentioned at least once in this book; I think I had a hard time shaking this comparison and maybe the author did, too.
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