I finished reading "The Wonderful Ride." Kent Peterson reviewed it here: http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/media/books/The-10-Best-Books-on-Bicycles-10-The-Wonderful-Ride.html for Outside magazine. His review is a good description so I won't rehash it. Instead, I'll add a couple notes.
Bicyclists had a tough time in 1895 when Mr. Loher rode across the U.S. There were very few roads and most of them were poorly maintained dirt. Reading this book reminded me over and over again, that today's cyclists have it easy. Well, except for the existence of automobiles. Next time you complain about a bumpy road, remember that it's much better than riding on railroad tracks.
In chapter 8, Mr. Loher describes riding through Minnesota and the people he encounters there.
"It is useless for anyone to go to Europe on a wheeling tour when he has the same opportunity to wheel through it in America. I had gone through a little Germany in North Dakota, and now I was traveling through Norway and Sweden. I would ask ten- and twelve-year old, white-headed, American-born children questions in regard to the roads and distances from town to town, only to be stared at in a frightened manner, as they could not speak a word of English. What an unacceptable state of affairs in our glorious republic. Our free schools have thrown open wide their doors for education of our childern, only to see them grow up unable to speak our understand the English language."
This is a near identical rant I heard the other day, after our presidential election, from a guy who works in the same building I do, but he was complaining about Somalis.
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