"Your job has been eliminated." In other words, you're unemployed, out of work, and desperate to find a new purpose. When US Army veteran Larry Walsh heard those words, his world was turned upside down. With a desire to move beyond unemployment, create an exciting new future for himself, and push past his limits, he decides to fulfill his lifelong dream to bike across the country. He purchases a Surly Disc Trucker touring bike and begins his 3,120-mile ride of the Southern Tier from California to Florida. Cycling over treacherous mountains, through open plains, unforgiving deserts, and over 200 unique small towns, Walsh not only discovers a new world and new people, but he uncovers a side of himself that he thought was long forgotten-one filled with true grit and determination. In Suit to Saddle, Walsh chronicles his story of triumph over adversity. Each person he meets along the road plays an integral part of his quest for inner peace and growth. Through the eyes of a one-armed cyclist, a retired police officer, a gun-toting waitress, and a thousand miles of open road, Walsh learns that the true meaning of a life well-lived is the journey. Join Walsh on his trip across America and see what it feels like to experience life one mile at a time.
When I wrote the first word for Suit to Saddle, I had a clear beginning and end in mind. That was not the case with my second book, Forty to Finish. The beginning was clear. Hop on a plane and fly to Astoria, Oregon. Simple and straightforward. The ending? I had no idea. Writing for me is all about discipline and routine. Since August 2020, I stayed at it, day in and day out. Early mornings. Late nights. Breaks in between. My routine. Maps, pictures, notes, a computer screen and keyboard laid out in front of me. And then just write. And write some more. The ending to Forty to Finish became clear during a break (jog) one day in early April '22 in my hometown of Mendham, NJ. I’m psyched to be on the final stretch of my writing journey, rounding third. Forty to Finish coming soon! Counting the days!!! (Introduction to Forty to Finish is included at the end of Suit to Saddle)
An 84-year-old woman approached the front of the auditorium at the All Seasons in Ann Arbor last week. Her steps were noticeably shaky, as she made progress using her Rollator to reach me. She steadied herself and in a soft, wavering voice, said, “I enjoyed your talk.” The one-time avid cyclist, with over 25,000-miles on the saddle as a member of her cycling club, appeared content and energized to tackle the rest of her day. A few days later, after my talk to the Central Jersey Cycling Club members, I received a thank you note. "...Thank you so much for sharing your stories with the club. I am about one-third of the way through your book, and I am amazed at the details you include. You certainly seem to have the knack to be a great writer. Don't give it up. And best of luck with your second book about to come out. I'll be watching for it. I know there is an introduction at the end of Suit to Saddle..." These warm-hearted encounters, and unforeseen hat-tips reinforce the wise decision I made to share my story with others.
Bicycle shops closed their showrooms using the space to store bikes dropped off for repair. They stopped taking phone calls because, as one bike mechanic told me, "I'm not turning a wrench. I'm constantly answering the phone." A friend recently told me he finally picked up his new bike, on backorder for a year. "I'll take that one!" not wanting to wait a year to saddle up. During Covid, many fitness-starved folks turned to cycling for outdoor exercise. Additionally, traveling from place to place on a bike positively impacts the economic vitality of small communities. Coffee. Breakfast. Lunch. Camping. Motels. A Snickers bar from the convenience store. According to some reports, we spend 8 million dollars a day in the United States from a bicycle seat. Organizations such as the rails-to-trails conservatory, whose mission states, "building a nation connected by trails," and the Adventure Cycling Association "inspire, empower, and connect people to travel by bicycle," are paving the way to a cycling renaissance. So what are you waiting for? A Valentine gift for that special person in your life!?
Have you stopped making New Year resolutions because you didn't follow through? Do you begin every year with the best intentions and end up on the stationary bike pedaling to nowhere? I had a dream, but I needed an extra push to move beyond my comfort zone. Only then did I see the prize. Untethered from the nagging voice in my head that won the battle preventing personal growth, I didn't just think; I acted. You too can make the choice to act on a desire. Are thinking about a new adventure? In 2022 treat yourself to an experience gained through living life on the saddle.
I like trying different things and cycling across the country and writing a book about the experience just seemed really cool. Without my family supporting me one hundred percent, I would never have been able to tackle a lifelong dream. For almost thirty years I reflected around this time each December, on the year that had passed by rather quickly. I wondered what the future would hold. Would I still be doing the same thing? At the same company? And sure enough, there I was the following year, doing the same thing. The cycle repeated. The pattern was familiar. But, in 2018, the cycle was broken. And for that, I am grateful. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to all!
I found buried on a cluttered shelf, the aging laminated printout I had carried for many years. It was the kick start I needed. "Attitude" and the one hundred thirty seven words of wisdom begins with, "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life…" and ends with, "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so, it is with you…you are in charge of your attitude." Simple, yet powerful. Little did I realize in 2018 when I was laid off from my job, it was a blessing in disguise. I stepped away from corporate life and cycled across America, twice. Have you ever worried about losing your job? Is a long bike ride (or two) on your bucket list? Are you one of the 81% of folks who want to write a book? Do your 'assumed constraints' limit your potential? I answered yes to all of the questions above and did something about it. In Suit to Saddle, I chronicle my story of triumph over adversity. In Forty to Finish the journey continues. I invite readers along for a cyclist's love letter to the American road. Coming soon...
Sixty-four days after I dipped my Surly Disc Trucker bike tire in the Pacific Ocean, a ritual to christen the start of my cross-country journey, I finished my trek by repeating the ritual at the Atlantic Ocean in St. Augustine, Florida. Between those sixty-four days in 2018, I met countless folks from small town America. Tales from many encounters are captured in Suit to Saddle, including a reunion with two Army buddies in Austin, TX. And one memory from the day I reported for duty at Fort Polk, LA to begin my first real adult job has stayed with me for years. Veteran’s Week starts today! Thank you to all who served our great country.
"What was your tipping point?" "My daughters," I replied to Rob's question what motivated me to ride my bike across America. At the Jersey shore on July 5, 2018, I asked Tara and Jaclyn how they felt about dad cycling across the country. "Dad, YOLO!" they replied in unison, revealing wisdom beyond their years. The rest is history. Our Zoom video call continued. I recapped Lael's story when Rob, We Get Outdoors, wanted to know what inspired me to enter the Trans Am Bike Race six months after returning from the Southern Tier ride. His eyes widened as he gleefully shared, "I interviewed Lael about two weeks ago!" The notion that Rob from South Africa and I from New Jersey uncovered Lael's gripping story for inspiration in a world of over five billion people struck me as fantastical. Young in years but old in wisdom, my daughters helped me see my North Star. And Lael's story of true grit and determination inspired me to test my mettle.
I walked downstairs this morning and brewed a pot of coffee to start my day, just like so many before. I sat down in my office, looked at my iPhone and read the following text message from my daughter, "Happy book release day dad!!" Straight away I knew I wanted to use this platform to express my thanks and appreciation to all who supported my writing journey. Thanks!!!
Did I ever think I would write a book? I would never have taken that bet. But deep down, I felt the need to share my story. To test my mettle. Sure, I like trying different things. I guess that was part of the reason. But I also wondered if my story could help others. My wife thought it could. The day after I announced to family and friends the release of Suit to Saddle, I received the confirmation that my writing journey the past two years has been worth the effort. A former work colleague contacted me, and shared the following, "your publication and comments were the affirmation I needed to keep on pushing..."
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