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Going Somewhere: A Bicycle Journey Across America Paperback – June 24, 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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  • Going Somewhere: A Bicycle Journey Across America
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Going Somewhere:

"Brian Benson’s memoir about riding from the hinterlands of Wisconsin to Portland, Oregon on his bicycle is as poignant as it is gripping, as hilarious as it is wise. GOING SOMEWHERE is a tender, sexy, take-it-with-you-everywhere-you-go-until-you’ve-read-the-last-page beauty of a book.” –Cheryl Strayed, New York Times bestselling author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

“Irresistible. . . . Let’s hope Benson has more travels in mind. He is a gifted writer, an observant human with an eye for the telling detail and how to tell it.” –Booklist
 

About the Author

Brian Benson grew up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. He now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches writing at the Attic Institute. This is his first book.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (June 24, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142180645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142180648
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Going Somewhere is a coming of age tale that follows the author and his girlfriend on a bicycle journey that originates in the lake country forests of northern Wisconsin, traverses the plains and mountains of North Dakota and Montana, and culminates in the pacific northwest. I couldn't put this book down. As someone who loves being outside (and by association great travel/outdoor stories), I was pulled in by the vivid sensory details (i really want to take a bike trip now). Benson does a great job of fully immersing the reader into the wide range of environments and situation one would encounter on this particular route/method of travel. That said, the strength of this book, and what really kept me on the hook, is the astute and witty observations and reflections of young man simultaneously entangled in a romance and a struggle for self discovery. The writing is honest, the author definitely doesn't shy away from portraying himself in a negative manner, especially when he was, by his own admission, acting like a selfish dick. It's laugh-out-loud funny and super witty and fun, with enough serious reflection mixed in to keep it grounded. I don't know what to compare it to exactly, but if you can imagine if David Sedaris co-wrote a travel memoir with Jon Krakauer, with a little late nite cinemax sprinkled in (don't worry, its nothing too racy). A must read for anyone who's into the outdoors, traveling, or has ever been in a relationship, likes bicycles, likes witty writing, likes to drink mountain dew for breakfast, likes to read about how awesome strangers are, has taken a bike trip, wants to take a bike trip, has gone camping, or likes things that are awesome. So everybody. This book is a must read for everybody. Except for my friend Linus. He only likes things that suck. He would not like this book one bit.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read Going Somewhere in smaller snippets so I could savor the journey with Brian and Rachel across the western United States. Brian’s prose is beautiful, funny, and painfully honest. As a non-biker, I felt like I learned so much about the challenges and the beauty of travelling by bicycle. As someone who has never seen the upper mountain region, I felt intimately connected to new ecosystems and the wonderful people who Brian and Rachel encountered on their trip. Going Somewhere has so many buried treasures in it…different themes emerge over the course of the book that make it SO much more than a travel memoir. It’s also a powerful coming of age story that I could totally relate to…falling in love and searching for an adult identity…what more do you want? Well, Brian offers more. The book is also an extended meditation on the nature of community – big cities, rural life, and friendships over distance and time. Brian’s reflections on the friendship of strangers gave me many moments of pause while reading to consider the kindness of strangers in my life. Brian’s struggle with “being in the moment” and “trying to get to Portland” reminded me of my own struggles with mindfulness versus pursuing long-term goals. All in all, Going Somewhere is a book I will return to many times and I’m sure I’ll carry away new revelations with each visitation.
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Format: Paperback
I love this book because A) it's super well written i.e. the action keeps moving unlike novels which describe a clump of dirt for 5 pages and B) It's all about adventure, love, and encounters with strangers. It reminds me of Leaning with Intent to Fall by Ethan Clark, and Lost in Place by Mark Salzman. I was so inspired while reading about the mountains, lakes, paths and even the windswept wheat fields of the midwest that I actually unpacked my sleeping bag and slept outside, in my backyard, in the city. My only complaint is that when it was over I wished there was more. You might not be sure what you're in for as you read the first chapters. I personally was less interested in the beginnings of the relationship which led to the book's adventure BUT I realize that's probably important for the character/plot development. However, you'll soon find yourself imagining as though you were with him on this trip - climbing the same hills, eating anything you want, and fighting with a rather humorous inner dialogue.
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Format: Paperback
I got what I wanted when I sat down, or rather laid down before sleep with this book. It took me on the wild journey of a young couple who didn't know the first or at least not the second thing about bike touring. In it I got more than I wished for. I was given views of the great lakes, plains, rocky mountains and the Pacific NW. And more than that I was given insight into what this insecure yet intelligent and powerful Brian was dealing with in his journey and his relationship. It in some ways was like a look in the mirror in my own relationship and seeing his successes and failures shined light on my own. A wonderfully written first piece.
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Format: Paperback
OK, that’s an exaggeration. There’s much more biking than sex in this book. But unlike in other bicycle journey travelogues, Benson does not exactly skip delicately over the occasions when he and his girlfriend pause for conjugal relations on their half-cross-country cycling trip from Wisconsin to Oregon. Not that he offers gory details--not at all--but just the fact that he doesn’t shy from detailing the peeling off of lycra layers for a tryst on a dock makes this book stand out from the many other bike journey memoirs I’ve read over the years.

Overall, this book is a scathingly honest look at what it’s like to do a long-distance ride with a girlfriend, and deal with the differences in riding styles, goals and needs. It starts out all romantic, but he comes to resent the fact that she’s slowing him down, which sours the relationship. He details the repercussions from his attitude and the choices he makes.

But it’s not all about strife and mental battles. He describes the joy and beauty of the trip, their elation at discovering bike trails and plunging into quiet Minnesota lakes, and the strangers who welcome them into their homes. He also records their disappointment in the straight roads and empty, wind-swept landscapes of Montana. He gives an honest look at what it’s like to cycle the Northern route, with all its accompanying hardships (including the uneasiness of encountering a weirdo out on the open plains, with nowhere to hide).

As cycling books go, “Going Somewhere” was well written, and often funny, but not the best I’ve read in the genre. The sexual escapades certainly differentiate it, and someone planning to ride the Northern route will pick up some good information from it. But overall, I didn't feel as pulled into the adventure as I've been by other cycling memoirs.
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