Book Review: ‘The Road Headed West’ by Leon McCarron

Screen Shot 2016-09-13 at 16.55.29.pngThrough this book, Leon McCarron tells the story of his 6000-mile human-powered adventure across America. Over five months, he cycled (yep, that’s right, cycled) from New York to Seattle and then down the Pacific coast to the Mexican border. Disconnected from a regular 9-to-5 routine, it is fascinating to see how McCarron adapts to his new lifestyle and finds his approach to life changing accordingly.

Along the way McCarron experiences many highs and lows. He find himself in the same area as a tornado, is forced to make several dangerous river crossing and encounters wild buffalo and a bear. Yet he overcomes all of these situations and shares many wonderful aspects of his journey too. He makes friends undertaking their own cycling journeys, meets many kind and hospitable strangers and visits a number of the incredible sights that America has to offer.

At one point, the opportunity to take a short break presents itself and McCarron jumps on a freight train headed to Minnesota! Why, you might wonder? He says: ‘When asked why he wanted to climb Everest, Edmund Hillary famously answered, ‘Because it is there.’ The freight train had been there, the right place at the right time, and it was the adventure and escape I’d needed.’

McCarron’s story is unique, honest and insightful. He tells the reader exactly what he sees and how he navigates each situation. He openly describes the many variations on America that he witnesses, appreciating its culture and diversity.

He also highlights the importance of appreciating what is around you and the little things in life:

‘I realised what a large part the small things had played on my journey. I didn’t recognise every tree or root or bird or rock, but you don’t need to be able to accurately identify a giant sequoia to appreciate its majesty. In a similar way, the whys and wherefores of many significant moments in life are probably beyond the comprehension of a lot of us; maybe it is enough just to enjoy them for what they are.’

‘The Road Headed West’ greatly demonstrates how a long journey such as this can contribute to personal growth and development. It made me appreciate the freedom that cycling can bring and left me wanting to plan my own cycling adventure. You power the bike and it can transport anywhere… all you need to decide is where you want to go.

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