Pilgrim Wheels: Reflections of a Cyclist Crossing America

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 in the journey, Mr. Hanson realizes that lightening his load is freeing and cleansing. He likens it to life, and how so many of us work so hard to accumulate “stuff,” making our paths  difficult. Instead, when people do not spend so much of “life’s energy” accumulating things, it can be cleansing for the soul. The author also defines “edge” in a way I have never thought of before. As part of a compilation of different sources, he says “…(the edge) is a place where something is likely to begin…” He goes on to talk about how life takes place on the edge, and that means being uncomfortable and taking risks. He later ties in Helen Keller’s famous quote, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Mr. Hanson has a beautiful way of integrating incredible life lessons throughout this book, lessons that have found their way to my soul.

Not only are the life lessons powerful and impactful to the reader, I also was able to take in his physical journey alongside him, as his descriptions are breathtaking. I have never been much of a cyclist, but I have a much greater appreciation for them now. Growing up in Arizona, I was taken back to the desert as the author described his experience of riding through it. The unforgiving heat, sun, sand, and dryness reminded me of my days of running in the desert as a teenager.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Pilgrim Wheels” by Neil Hanson. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a beautifully written memoir of a cyclist, as he captures his experience and finds meaning and purpose in the big things, as well as the simple moments of life. I will keep this book to read again. It will remind me of how beautiful life is, and how much I can learn in each moment.

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