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Pilgrim Wheels: Reflections of a Cyclist Crossing America

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  292 ratings  ·  48 reviews
FIRST PLACE - 2015 Independent Publisher Living Now Book Awards
FIRST PLACE - 2015 National Indie Excellence Awards
SILVER HONOREE - Benjamin Franklin Digital Award
SECOND PLACE - 2015 Great Southwest Book Festival
Winner of nearly a dozen additional awards

In 2011, at 57 years old, Neil Hanson began a 3400-mile cross-country bicycle journey, exploring an America that can only
Paperback, 232 pages
Published March 1st 2015 by High Prairie Press
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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Neil Hanson
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
AUTHOR REVIEW: Just getting that out there - I'm reviewing my own work here. Of course, I want folks to read it, so I'm likely to cheat my stars up a little bit, right? But I really do feel good about this work. As an author, I'd probably go back and keep re-writing it forever, and even doing the final review for the interior book designer, I found myself want to go back and rewrite entire sections of the book. I recognize this as the perfectionist in me, and I'm fine with it. I feel good about ...more
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this bike touring memoir, but the author's preoccupation with the looks of each woman he meets was pretty distracting (he doesn't review how the men look, just the women). There are better bike touring books out there.
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING!! First off I received this book from the author through Good Reads First reads> (I hate that I have to even say that!!) This book is not just about a cyclist making a cross country trek, It's WAY MORE!! Neil has written beautifully!! Not only does this book talk about his journey and the people he meets along the way, It reminds you to slow down, to stop and smell the roses so to speak. I learned many things about myself while reading this WONDERFUL book. Things in life often slip right ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was asked to provide an honest review of Pilgrim Wheels: Reflections of a Cyclist Crossing America by Neil Hanson. Truth be told, this is not my ordinary genre of choice, but I wanted to step out of my comfort zone a bit and give it a try. Nonfiction novels are more my husband's forte and I usually find it safer to stay with fictional works. Reading is my form of escapism and my preferred leisure activity when I want to get away from the stresses of life. It is true that many things can be lea ...more
Paul Kiczek
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I would recommend this book without hesitation to anyone interested in bike touring. It's an easy read and offers a different perspective on what touring is like, especially solo touring. Neil's approach is to ponder and share what the rider is feeling over long grueling days, easy enjoyable rides and while interacting with the place and people around you.

True story: I just finished my first solo, 1-month, 1600-mile tour of the East Coast from Key West to my home in NJ just one week ago. I'm 70
Viktoria Bass
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Neil Hanson has once again authored a book, Pilgrim Wheels, which hits one deep in the soul requiring introspection as one joins him in his journey. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the wind in its various presentations, the changing and challenges of landscape, the people and Neil’s thought provoking observations. Day 11 - Sedona – strummed my heart strings reminding me of how fleeting life is; how our pursuit of external objectives can and often does result in missing life’s priceless moments ...more
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I won a copy of Neil Hanson's "Pilgrim Wheels: Reflections of a Cyclist Crossing America" from the website. The author of this book has done something I always wanted to do - he has taken a bike ride across the country. I always thought it would be a great way to explore the nation's backroads and scenery....
Mr. Hanson travelogue takes place in 2011, when the author was 57 years old (what is my excuse...) It's a great blend of humor, seriousness and insight. It makes me want to try
Mike Dean
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Pilgrim Wheels is an amazing story of a bicycle journey and so much more. I appreciated Neil Hanson's stories of all the joys and challenges with the ride itself through areas of the country I am familiar with. I then enjoyed his observations from the saddle about people, "places", history, culture, the scenery, and himself (since a ride like this gives a person so much time to think). I found myself, smiling, laughing, and shaking my head. After being reminded it really is about the journey and ...more
Susan Smith
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very well written book of the author's experiences, thoughts, and reflections while cycling from California through Kansas. As a cyclist myself, I found myself identifying with Hanson's thoughts and emotions. Having ridden across Kansas 6 or 7 times, I pretty much knew every mile he covered while in the state, and knew most of the places he stopped along the way. I also found myself thinking, "I'm not the only one who has these wild thought tangents while on the bike."
Reader Views
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Neil Hanson
High Prairie Press (2015)
ISBN 9780982639122
Reviewed by Christine Watson for Reader Views (12/15)

“Pilgrim Wheels” by Neil Hanson is a beautifully written memoir of the author’s journey by bike across the country. Not only does the author create such breath taking scenery through his words, the lessons he shares that he learned along the way are powerful and life changing. I absolutely loved this book from start to finish!

Early on
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, read-2015
I'll often refer to a travel goal or a travel memoir chronicling a trip with a specific goal (in this case to ride a bike from coast to coast) as a quest. What I'm thinking when I say that fits one of the dictionary definitions which is what a medieval knight was doing when he set out to accomplish a specific goal, for example finding the Holy Grail or to go on an adventurous
expedition. But usually there is another level to this whether the traveler knows it or not. That's the act of searching
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
As a touring cyclist, I really wanted to like this book but it wasn't to be. In the context of the author, I was bonked with a headwind on a false flat the last 70 pages or so.

He definitely has a self conscious thing about how he looks wearing 'spandex' as it comes up 7-10 times in the book. (For synonyms try cyclists, cycling gear, Lycra shorts, cycling jersey, sports outfits, high performance clothing, oddly dressed, etc.)

He objectified every single woman mentioned in the book and generally
chris chatelain
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Pilgrim Wheels took me on a journey so see America and its quirky complexities through the eyes of a cyclist. The author hops on his bike in Monterey and pedals his way across the country. His reflections on life add nuance to the ride, and his obvious quest for connectedness with nature and spiritual harmony keep the reader constantly invited to see things from a new and different angle. The author’s journey—both inward and outward—draw the reader along a highway filled with a unique and wonder ...more
Karl O
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, just it just wasn't happening for me. The prose reminded me of something you'd write for a college creative writing class. The overblown descriptions were tedious to the point of being nauseating. A couple times I almost quit reading the book but somehow I managed to persevere through to the end without losing my lunch. To top it off, this book only covers half of Hanson's bike trip across the USA and leaves the reader stranded somewhere in Kansas. You have to ...more
Barry Mann
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
yawn, i love cycling and this just didnt hit the level of detail about the ride that i would like to hear about. For exmple, he writes "i took in calories and fluid" so many times when i would love to hear about the assortment of snacks and meals had in the various mom and pop stores and diners. Non-Spoiler alert, this is only the first half of his ride across america, but after slogging to Kansas, i have no interest in continuing!
May 28, 2015 marked it as to-read
Neil will be speaking at the Fort Collins REI on June 24.

I hope I win the book through the Goodreads giveaway!
Don Paske
Feb 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Much, too much "jibber jabber" about anything and everything and not about cycling. If you condense the good cycling sections, it could comprise only one or two chapters.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
This book turned me off from the beginning. It's just a guy saying quasi-deep things because he went on a long bike ride. And he kept talking about how attractive women are. But I was going to give it a chance because I like bikes. But then there was this weird part about how the more Scandinavian people are, the more polite they are, and described a rude person as clearly having grown up on the opposite side of the universe from Scandinavia. I don't know what race the rude person was, but I did ...more
Terri Schneider
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pilgrims Wheels is indeed as the subtitle states—reflections of a cyclist crossing America—a lovely, meandering tribute to his time in the saddle crossing our diverse country. This is not a 'how to' of cycle touring but rather the author reflecting his thoughts and views on his experience, our people and country, as he rolls through. Whether the reader agrees with his views or not, we can agree that Neil clearly touts the virtues and worthiness of such a self-propelled pilgrimage. Looking forwar ...more
Michael Charles Yett
I would probably give this a one star if it didn't include great stories relating to cycling on the open road.

The author's arrogant ignorant liberal musings between the beauty of the cycling experiences ruined the story for me. Truth on the radio is not hate and Godly providence is not evolution. I am fortunate that I was able to read this at no cost and will not pay anything for further musings. I have cycled half way across the nation and found diversity and beauty in the folks I met without a
This book has a languid pace, which may be appropriate for a book about riding a bike across the country, without a real sense of urgency. At times, it feels like there's no point to the book. At times, it seems to be more about the bike ride itself, and at other times it doesn't seem to be about the bike ride at all, but instead about the author's musings. I'm honestly not sure which part of the book I liked more. It's a decent read, quick and breezy, and perhaps the best recommendation I can m ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am obsessed with books about bike touring because that’s where I want to be. I liked this book but I could not relate to the author’s daily mileage and speed (between 90 and 150 or so miles). This may seem trivial but I’m looking for inspiration on the road. Someone who cycles 40-75 miles a day at around 10-12 miles an hour. The author’s schedule was too ambitious and unrealistic for the average Joe or Josephine. I’m still going to read the second book. There’s not that too many books in this ...more
Carol Rode
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pure enjoyment

A good read of a travel book. I enjoyed his take with the town dinners and the foods he ate. Getting into it for the inns he stayed at and the fun he found in people. Simple people just making a living and there are still many kind and helpful people still out there. No acts of violence which Was just great. To many people in today's world are to busy but when you decide to just take it slow and enjoy the ride you will find a wonderful world out there with lots of wonderful people.
Mia Michalek
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Makes me want to ride more

I'm getting ready for a bike across kansas trip and needed some motivation to get ready! I bought this book hoping it would give me a little bit of an insiders tip of the amazing trip ahead of me and it's exactly what the author did for me! Great book for anyone who loves to cycle!
Brian Kopp
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moving story

The book is has a great balance of personal insights, inspiration and story telling. He writes in a way that makes you feel you are riding beside him throughout his journey.
Myra L Rice
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cycling from California to Kansas

I read the second half first and was curious about what the author witnessed at the beginning of his journey! The first part is as interesting and puts the whole adventure in perspective! Well written and emotional at times!
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good pre ride read

I plan to go on a bike trip. This book has brought realty to my plans. I to think about "stuff" while I ride. I'm looking forward to the second book.
Marvin P. Glyzewski
Full of thoughts

Feels like a real bike ride. Philosophical thoughts and feelings. Starts with quotes and proverbs that add to the journey.
Mary Beth
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I so looked forward to reading this book. My father had undertaken a coast-to-coast bicycle trip in the late 1980s and had always referred to it as a life-changing adventure. This book chronicles one half of just this sort of adventure: from the California coast to central Kansas. Travelling alone at the start and later joined by a good friend, the author captures the spirit, hardships and joys of travelling the deserts and back-roads of the West with a 20 lb pack in a spandex outfit. The author ...more
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

Neil has taken on the challenge of riding across the USA, sometimes with a friend, and sometimes without. He quickly learns the challenges and rewards of doing it on his own, as well as enjoying some time with old friends. Let me clarify here: He’s riding a PUSH BIKE across the desert.

This novel covers only part of Neil’s journey! It is astoundin
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A lifelong cyclist, Neil Hanson's two-wheeled adventures have taken him across America, along the Natchez Trace, and throughout northern Italy. Originally from Kansas, Neil currently lives in Colorado, where he navigates his bicycle up and down the inclines of the Rocky Mountains. His books include Pilgrim Wheels, part one of the deep and introspective journey story woven around his cross-country ...more

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