Old Man on a Bicycle: A Ride Across America and How to Realize a More Enjoyable Old Age
Don Petterson, author
A retired US Foreign Service officer whose ten overseas assignments included three ambassadorships (to Somalia, Tanzania, and Sudan) is the author of Inside Sudan and Revolution in Zanzibar. When he was in his early 70s, he gave thought to flying across the country in an ultra-light airplane. For various reasons, he discarded that idea and decided instead to make the journey on a bicycle. His third book, Old Man on a Bicycle is the account of his solo ride across the country. He tells of challenges he faced, such as riding a loaded bike over the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada, crossing the Great Plains in brutal summer heat, dealing with the aftermath of a collision with a car, and traversing Nevada’s basin and range country and the Great Salt Lake’s desert. Rewards included passing through spectacular mountain forests, experiencing the aching beauty of the lonely plains, viewing the grandeur of the West’s sculpted canyons and mesas, and meeting interesting people along the way. He relates how he prepared for the 3,600-mile journey and what he saw and did during the two months he was on the road. In addition he rebuts the misconception that aging invariably means debilitating decline. Drawing on certain events of the ride, he presents research-based advice on how to ease the physical aspects of aging, emphasizing the importance of exercise to physical and mental well-being at all ages. After his solo ride across the country, he rode his bicycle from Miami, Florida to New Hampshire, where he lives with his wife.