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Monday, May 27, 2024

PEZ Bookshelf: The Buddha and the Bee

It’s mentioned that individuals journey to see the world, or to run away from one thing behind them, and in his entertaining e-book, “The Buddha and the Bee,” writer Cory Mortensen discovers that maybe his motive for desirous to journey his bicycle from Minnesota to California was not likely what he first supposed.


Subtitled “Biking via America’s Forgotten Roadways on an Unintentional Journey of Discovery,” the e-book delivers on its promise. The occasions recounted happen from late August to late September 2001, when a lot of the world would change however over the 34 days of his moderately epic journey the writer’s world shrinks right down to following the highway, refuelling at filling stations, finding impressively low cost resorts and pigging out on Chinese language meals each night if he can.

There’s a small print disclaimer close to the copyright data that reads: “That is the writer’s story. It isn’t supposed to be a information or how-to guide for the same journey. No claims are made as to legality, suitability, security or effectivity of any route, highway, service,, institution or methodology of journey.” This proviso is exclusive, not ever earlier than being current in any of the lots of of cycling-related books we have now reviewed, but it surely turns into comprehensible as one travels that lengthy highway west with Mr. Mortensen.

We live within the grand new period of “bikepacking” it appears however in 2001 there was loads of bicycle touring, with bicycles and tools match for objective. The writer is trustworthy about what he calls his “lackadaisical lifestyle” and his planning for a 2000 mile journey by bicycle is getting some highway maps from the AAA and spending half an hour to take a look at them, so no route actually deliberate, no overnights booked. His bicycle was a 1998 Specialised Allez he had ridden as soon as at an occasion in 1999. He figured that 4 interior tubes and a pump can be sufficient to see him via mechanically. His sleeping bag and tent had been mounted to a rear rack. Setting out on Day 1 with a objective of a 98 mile journey (additional than he had ever ridden earlier than), his different gear—a panoply of stuff that included a range, 5 shirts, three books and a dictaphone—was in a backpack that weighed in at 42 kilos loaded.

Whereas maybe not the particular person you’ll ever wish to handle your personal biking journey, the writer reveals that he might be very pragmatic. On the finish of Day 1, shoulders chafed and butt aching, he distributes a lot of the contents of his backpack to varied locations in packages despatched from the Redwood Falls, Minnesota submit workplace. Though he had run marathons, he’s shortly conscious of the issue of what he has taken on and undergoes a real disaster, in search of a simple manner out. Taking the bus or getting picked up by household, even planning the place he may go away the bicycle in plain sight so it might be retrieved.

However ultimately he proceeds and steadily makes progress as his world turns into that slender one of many open highway, actually horrible resorts, Gatorade and all that MSG for dinner. As he rides into September, he’s made conscious, however solely in essentially the most obscure sense, of the terrorist assaults on america on the eleventh however he’s so remoted as he rides throughout the center of nowhere that it fails to register as actuality.

There are some fairly notable episodes. Seemingly not completely devoted to using on a regular basis, he hitches a journey with some Hispanics who carry him to their trailer park and try and proselytize and whereas the account is written with the self-deprecating humour that suffuses the e-book, it nonetheless appears very creepy.

As he rides alongside the seemingly countless roads and conquers some epic climbs, all of the whereas coping with equally epic bicycle mechanical points that threaten to derail the entire enterprise—has anybody within the historical past of the bicycle ever had as many flat tires in 34 days?–his ideas flip an increasing number of inward. The nondescript cities he passes via fold into one another, though he usually likes to recount tales about their one second of fame together with crimes, and his transient interactions with folks, removed from the fast-paced Interstate, make his take into consideration his personal life and its which means, or lack thereof.

By the point he reaches California, the place he’ll attend a marriage in addition to meet up with the particular person he phrases his “rebound girlfriend,” he’s decided that he won’t return to his job in Minnesota. He writes:

    “I’d return and be slammed with calls, emails, and tasks that by no means ended. The routine would look ahead to me.

    On the highway, nobody requested something of me. I used to be quiet—pedaling, coasting, wanting, listening to, smelling, seeing. I picked and selected what was essential.. I had by no means earlier than had such management over who I used to be or wasn’t.”

It appears that evidently after this epiphany, the writer has moved onward in his personal style, with travels to over fifty-five nations, operating sixteen marathons on 5 continents, build up and promoting a enterprise and gotten much more adept at biking, having ridden over 1,000,000 miles within the years since. And he turned an writer in 2020 too.

The title of the e-book relies on a citation from the Buddha: “As a bee gathering nectar doesn’t hurt or disturb the colour and perfume of the flower, so do the sensible transfer via the world.” All of us attempt to come to knowledge as greatest we will and “The Buddha and the Bee” is one man’s very entertaining account of self-discovery on two wheels.


“The Buddha and the Bee—Biking via America’s Forgotten Roadways on an Unintentional Journey of Discovery” by Corey Mortensen
336 pp., paperback (additionally accessible as a hardback or e-book)
White Condor LLC, 2020
ISBN 978-1-7354981-2-6

Accessible via Amazon.com

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