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Reviews: Books

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The Bar Mitzvah and the Beast by Matt Biers-Ariel
Rating: ***__ 
By Avinash Kachhy on Sun 7 Oct 2012 07:13 (US/Pacific) Edit Delete   Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I try to read every book on bike touring available to me via libraries and this one is one of the newer ones, published in 2012 about a ride which was undertaken in 2007. The author's son turns 13 and the whole family rides from San Fransisco, CA to Washington, DC on 3 bikes (1 is tandem) and presents a petition about global warming to a congressman or 2.

The author is an experienced writer, an English teacher and a seasoned bike commuter (riding a bike with 50K miles and yet surprisingly unfamiliar to bike maintenance) and the book is enjoyable in most parts due to the quite humorous style. However, the author is delving too much (for my taste) in to religious details which are off the topic. Yes, the ride is part of a religious ritual but the incessant obsession over religion, atheism etc., is just too boring. There is a mix of religion, global warming and family dynamics in the book instead of the usual and expected mix on cycling, adventure and local experience. No photos of the travelers in the actual ride. Perhaps they did not include cameras in their equipment.

Apart from that the book is entertaining and in a somewhat shallow way provides yer another account of a cross country ride. One important detail emerges is that you can find Coleman fuel more commonly than MSR fuel in average sporting goods stores and megamart sporting goods departments. There is not much about local experiences as they mostly stay on the route. From the dialog with the congress official, I doubt if such Herculean effort on the part of a 13 year old made any dent or in the environmental policy of the US at any level. It was good to know though that the 13 year old himself became a very robust individual which is the best outcome of this ride.

ISBN 978-1-59485-672-3

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