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Roll Around Heaven All Day – Book Review

Guest Author - Sharry Miller

That lucky old sun has nothing to do,
But roll around heaven all day.

-B. Smith and H. Gillespie

These song lyrics not only provide the title for Stan Purdum’s tale of bicycling across America, but they accurately reflect the life philosophy he presents in Roll Around Heaven All Day – A Piecemeal Journey Across America by Bicycle. Undertaken at the age of 50 to fulfill a lifelong dream while he still was able, Stan’s path across America was of necessity broken into three segments, making for three distinct yet united tales.

Stan’s plan was to follow the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail using maps published by Adventure Cycling Association. This route was first established in 1976 as the course followed by the tour created to celebrate the American bicentennial. However, the demands of a full-time editorial job, as well as a wife and family, prevented him from taking the time to complete the entire route in one trip.

Roll Around Heaven All Day starts with Stan’s chronicle of his journey from Astoria, Oregon to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. On this summer trip he was accompanied by his younger brother, Scott. Their original goal of riding 80 miles per day in order to reach Dillon, Colorado was quickly abandoned as they realized that no number of miles ridden in their home state, Ohio, was going to prepare them for the mountains they’d encounter on their chosen route. Ultimately, they relaxed and allowed the trip to be what it would be and to pedal as far as they could. After four weeks, the two made it to Yellowstone where they caught a bus and returned to their own homes. Stan’s wife, Jeanine, hoped that the month of pedaling had been enough to satisfy Stan’s wanderlust, but she was wrong. His desire to complete his ride across the nation was just as strong.

The following spring, Stan purchased a tandem in order to ride across Virginia with his daughter, Becky. With only a little over a week of spring break to accomplish their goal, Stan and Becky started at Breaks Interstate Park and pedaled to Yorktown. Thanks to an unusually long and cold Ohio winter, they had not been able to train as much as they’d have liked, and as a result found the hills of western Virginia a tough haul, one that was made more difficult by an unusually cold spring. Success was theirs, however, and Stan was able to connect again with his teenage daughter.

The final leg of Stan’s cross-country tour was completed later that same summer. Although it would leave him with a gap in the route, he decided to start again in Dillon, Colorado, southeast of Yellowstone. Riding mostly solo this time (he did meet up with a couple of other cyclists with whom he rode for part of the trip), Stan continued to relish not only the sights he saw, but more importantly, the people he met. Time and energy ran out at Marion, Kentucky, and he again caught a bus home, leaving another gap in the eastern portion of the TransAmerica Trail.

In the end, Stan didn’t care that there were gaps in his route or that he didn’t do the entire trail in one long west-to-east haul. More important to him was the time he got to spend connecting with his brother and daughter in new ways, and the realization of his dream to wander across America on his bicycle. Read his story in Roll Around Heaven All Day and you, too, will be inspired by wanderlust.

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