"When Don Petterson, a former American ambassador, told family and friends he intended to ride a bicycle from New Hampshire to San Francisco, most of them questioned his judgment, if not his sanity. He was in his seventies, hadn't been on a bike for years, and had never ridden more than a few miles at a time. But, in May 2002, putting doubters-and self-doubt-behind him, Petterson headed west."Old Man on a Bicycle: A Ride Across America and How to Realize a More Enjoyable Old Age chronicles Petterson's ride, yet it also provides the reader with the distillation of Peterson's experience and research, not only of the ride and its environs but also on aging and how to stay vital. His Amazon Author page is also an interesting read and provides insight into Petterson's writing style. He has also written two books, one about the Sudan and one about Zanzibar, based upon his experience as a US ambassador. "Ambassador on a Bicycle" might have been a better title for the book!
If I understand the chronology correctly, Peterson took his ride across American at age 72 and then wrote the book 12 years later, using his journal of the ride as the focal point of his writing. The book includes journal narration in italics and also ambassadorial analysis and commentary on the terrain and the towns along the ride and more introspective analysis of how Peterson's mind and body hold up during the ride. The commentary includes footnotes. The author has done his research and has provided useful and interesting information about "an old man on a bicycle."
Behind the narration and commentary, or perhaps suffusing it, is the reality that this man rode across America at age 72 and then wrote a very readable book about that experience at age 84. The ride and book are testimonials that life is not over at retirement and that getting old need not be an impediment to living a gracious and meaningful life.
Read the book, and the younger you are, the better.
Copyright 2015 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved