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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 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.


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

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

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