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The Book > Reader Responses

ONE WHEEL - MANY SPOKES: USA By Unicycle makes connections with people as varied as social advocates and cyclists, wanderers, dreamers, and more.

When I wrote ONE WHEEL - MANY SPOKES, I hoped that people in transition, people with dreams, and people who have adventures to remember would find in ONE WHEEL - MANY SPOKES a partner for their own journey.  Sometimes a single note from a reader confirms my whole experience of riding and writing through the 50 states.

Thanks to everyone who writes and shares a comment or a story. Following are two reader's who've given permission to post their letters--samples of the privilege I feel in sharing the ONE WHEEL story.


I am a unicyclist. I am an atheist. I am a
Unitarian Universalist. All these among other things.

I don't remember when I first heard about you, but it was sometime reading a
post on rec.sport.unicycling about your, then, upcoming tour across the US.
I was, of course, impressed. However, when I heard your purpose of raising
money for a Lutheran ministry in Alaska among native people, I was
dismissive. And, in fact, if you search that newsgroup, you can see some of
my comments after a piece about you appeared in On One Wheel.

In any event, I am now reading One Wheel - Many Spokes and am once again
very impressed. Your writing and message are deeply moving and beautiful as
well as inspiring. For many such as myself, I think, it is difficult to say
what we will be inspired to, but should we fail to act, it will not be for a
lack of trying on your part.

As a Unitarian Universalist I like to think of myself, and succeed in most cases, in being open minded. I certainly wasn't in your case, however, and for that I apologize.
And I've learned through being once again reminded that prejudging is way
too easy a path to take.

A woman approached me last year while I was waiting for a train near
Columbia University after meeting with some New York unicyclists. She said
that she knew someone who was riding (or had ridden) across the US on a
unicycle. I immediately told her your name and that I had read about you.
She spoke in glowing terms of you and her words are reflected in your book.

I suspected that I'd enjoy your book even before reading it when the jacket
compared it to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read that book
many times and even wrote my college application essays on it back in 1978.
I also find your writing to be similar in tone to William Least-Heat Moon's,
though less verbose as well as Bill Bryson's, though not mean-spirited as he
can be.

At some point in the not too distant future, I will send some money to the
fund for the mission. But I'd just like to thank you for relating your
experience and sharing a vision of life that is worth aspiring to.

Oh, and do plan on visiting the east coast at some point so those of us here
can meet with you.

Peace,
FROM NEW JERSEY,


I have just finished your book, and I guess, like most folks must, I
feel a close connection to your trip, and to your family... Your story
is so personal, so true, and so encompassing of my life as well -- as
one who is on the fringe of the Lutheran church -- concerned about the
welfare of the world, and at the same time, loving the everyday folks
-- something I learned at Holden -- my family doesn't understand how I
can relate to the 'red state' folks -- but I feel in so many ways
those are the people of this country, and good people -- but one by
one, they are not evil, they are not stupid -- they are scared, they
are good, real people -- with incredible stories...

I have brushed off my manuscript, and if I ever get back to editing
it, I would love to run it by you and see what you could help me with
to turn it into a coherent piece.  I was in Palestine when the
fighting broke out -- I arrived on 9/11/00 -- a hopeful kid out of
college -- and 34 days later, I left home, was strip searched for
hours because the authorities thought that my neighbors had planted a
bomb in one of my cavities -- they took half of my possessions and
sent some of them back to me -- and I went home to my parents' upper
middle class life for a couple of weeks, and couldn't handle it -- I
had dreams that I had killed one of the kids whom I worked with --
beaten him to death -- and so I left for Holden -- and didn't read the
paper for months...

And then on 3/11/01, on an out, my father and I hit a tree at 65 miles
per hour, and it changed both of our lives forever -- the world
changed for me -- and then on 9/11/01, the world changed for everyone
here... and I have this tangled up sense of the way things are -- but
I still have my Arabic music, and I still have my banjo -- and my
identity is tangled up in there somewhere -- I know that you
understand stories like this -- because I am a wanderer looking for a
simple place to be -- and I think that is what all of those people you
met, traveling across the country, across the world, are -- all
looking for themselves, looking into themselves -- looking for their
childhood...

Anyway, thank you so much for your book.  Thank you so much for the
care you do give people -- strange that I could write all of this --
but I feel like you told me that story over pancakes at the local
diner -- or over working in the kitchen at Holden --

God's blessings.
Kent Gustavson
composer, musician and teacher, available for commissions,
instrumental, choral music
www.kentgustavson.com


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