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Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180 Hardcover – June 15, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lance Armstrong has shown the world what tremendous athleticism it takes to be a champion cyclist. Now Magnuson weighs in on the sport, from the point of view of a regular guy. The author of Lummox: The Evolution of a Man is a 255-pound, pack-a-day 40-year-old who's desperate to get his life back into shape. And he chooses the challenge of cycling to achieve that, largely because of its total lack of mercy. "I needed the crap beaten out of me," Magnuson explains. So he launches into his own journey, one where he succeeds in spades, drops pounds and quits smoking to become a true road warrior. It's a compelling premise, made all too real by the cover image of a mostly nude, overweight man on a bike. Magnuson approaches the book with that kind of humor, and a rapid pace that mirrors the sport he's fallen in love with. The downfall is that the colloquial fun often drifts into silly superficiality (on reading Samuel Beckett: "I'm like totally wow, blown aw?y, this stuff rocks!"). And although Magnuson, a university creative writing professor, occasionally tries to inject a bit of intellectual heft, dropping in Kafka and Camus references alongside his racing stories, it just never works as a thrilling narrative. This life makeover is an admirable achievement, but doesn't make for great reading.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Mike's one of the only writers in the world who makes reading about cycling so much fun you're nearly tempted to skip your next ride and keep turning the pages.” —Bill Strickland, executive editor, Bicycling magazine

“Forget Dr. Phil and the South Beach Diet. Forget Atkins and scary pills. Mike Magnuson found another, much more enjoyable way to shed pounds and get healthy: cycling.” —Chicago Sun-Times

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; First Edition edition (June 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400052408
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400052400
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,051,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Heft on Wheels" tells the story of how a man resolves to get his life in order, via a bicycle. Mike weighs in over 255 pounds, chain smokes, and spends 3-4 nights a week getting drunk. Mike admits he tends to become obsessive about whatever he does (smoking, drinking, eating), and decides to turn this tendency into something healthful-cycling. Mike begins to live off protein shakes and 300 miles per week on the bike. One year later he has lost about 80 pounds and finds he has transformed his life, although not necessarily for the better. In the process of becoming obsessive over his cycling, Mike feels he may have sacrificed some aspects of his teaching career, and pushed the limits with his marriage and family obligations. The Kafka, Camus, and Beckett references are minimal and fit the narrative, despite Publisher Weekly's negative comments. This book is a great read for cyclists over 40 and should not be approached as a guide to professional cycling, dieting, or training. It is however very motivating and has inspired me to crank up the intensity level of my cycling workouts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"We" being the many other middle-aged clydesdale riders.

Mike Magnuson decided to start taking his cycling seriously when he finally grew tired of being dropped on club rides. He had been cycling for some time but at one point he decided to quit drinking, smoking, and to lose weight - and he ultimately ends up completing some truly challenging rides like the "Bridge to Bridge Incredible Cycling Challenge" (100 miles of steep mountain ascents).

I read this book last summer and found it to be inspirational. Like Mike, I am a large middle-aged athlete, and I lost sixty pounds via cycling (and running, mostly) and various lifestyle changes. Right now I'm training for my eighth full (running) marathon in five years. Although I wasn't inspired by Mike to make the change, having done that five years ago, I found this book helpful as ongoing encouragement for me to continue my newfound habits. Unlike Mike, I still get dropped during hilly club rides, and I'm not as competitive as Mike, but I'm going to guess that he is a sort of hero to lots of people like me.

I am reviewing this book now because I just finished reading a novel, *The Memory of Running,* which has some similarities to this book. The narrator of that novel quit drinking, smoking, and overeating and rode his bike across the United States to ultimately find love, and to become an active member of the human race again. Mike Magnuson's story is much different. Unlike the passive, nearly "empty" character in *The Memory of Running,* Mike is aggressive and goal oriented. I like the way he made a plan and stuck to it instead of just letting success accidentally roll over him like Smithy did in *The Memory of Running*. Mike chose his change.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've spent the fast few months reading Heft on Wheels by Mike Magnuson. Every so often I start reading but have to stop. If you look over my Instagram or Google me, Abe Van Dyke, you'll see that I've been struggling with crippling anxiety and depression.

These two pages towards the end of the book, and I haven't quite finished it yet, describe my life to a tee. I quit smoking, drinking, eating poorly, soda, etc.

I used to weigh 315lbs, drank a 2L of soda every day and at a large pizza as a meal every day I was also the guy smoking a pack of cigs everyday and could drink that $40 big think of Jack Daniels alone in two nights.

I didn't like myself.

I started having surgeries on my ankle and became addicted to Vicodin while in turn began eating the same thing every day. I would up at 175lbs and appeared very sickly at 6'1" with no muscle.

Another year passes and my mom dies when I'm 23yo. I didn't process it well. Eventually it became so bad that I couldn't leave the house so I found a therapist

Slowly I've added medication, began eating healthier and recently, within the past 6months have become physically active. I like to bike, and much like Mike, the author of this book, I am an "all in" kinda guy.

These two pages scare me because they resonate with me on the foundation of my character unlike anyone I've ever met or read about.

Since I began reading roughly 6months ago, I have quit smoking, started eating new things for the first time in 4yrs, found a mentor and likeminded friends.

I really hope the final chapter of this book eases my growing anxiety which is why I stopped to write this. Either way, #heftonwheels had been an incredibly moving book which I highly suggest anyone read.

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Format: Hardcover
I was shopping for a bike maintenance book in my local bookstore and stumbled on this novel. The cover catches your eye; how could it not? I had to buy it.

I started reading that night and never stopped. It's a compelling story of a regular guy, maybe a little compulsive, getting his act together. I think most of us have, at one point or another, fantasized about making those huge changes in our life. Mike got fed up and did it.

While I read the story I couldn't help but think "damn, that sounds like me" over and over. Today I'm going for a ride. It could be step one.
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