I returned home from the first leg of my book tour on Sunday, July 24 via Amtrak, from San Jose, California to Portland, Oregon with my cycle boxed. Since the book tour launch on June 24, I cycled a total of 750 miles and did 24 book talks. My shoulders held up beautifully.
The handcycling itself, from venue to venue, is a radically different experience than traveling by car. That fact alone made this leg of my book tour a thrilling trip. We cycled Hwy 101 from Coos Bay, Oregon to Cloverdale, California, with a little sag wagon assist south of Crescent City. At times it was a bit scary because 101 does not always have wide shoulders. In Northern California, about 40 trucks (many carrying cut redwood trees) passed us every hour, and on those sections where there was virtually no shoulder, there was often only about 2 feet between my left elbow and the truck. Thus, I had to be fully engaged with all my senses, focused on staying as far to the right as possible while avoiding any bumps on the road that might throw off my front wheel and at the same time constantly checking the rear-view mirror attached to my helmet. I averaged about 40 miles a day.
There was no set formula for my book talks. They became spontaneous expressions of the whole process of writing the book, stories from my life and summaries of various themes in the book, and occasional selected readings. Audience response was wonderful. The average attendance was 50, ranging from 0 at one disappointing event to 170 in Berkeley, California. Books were purchased by about 40 percent of attendees at any one event, which I am told is higher than average. I returned home happy and exhausted and am now resting up for the Veterans For Peace convention, to be held at Portland State University August 3-7, 2011.
I neglected this blog while on tour, as it took every bit of energy I had just to stay focused on the cycling and the book events. After a few days rest I hope to post more stories from the road.
–[post dictated by Brian]