A Canadian Cyclist’s View Atop An American Barstool
I am so proud of my friend, Brian Mulligan, who followed through on his dream to publish a book chronicling his solo cycling adventures. It’s a beautiful book and a great read.
Brian is no ordinary guy. Although he is well-loved by a large circle of friends, he’s also a bit of a loner, and likes to cycle long distances alone which gives him extended stretches of time to ponder life. At the end of the day he’ll find a bar in whatever small town he’s reached, grab a bite and a beer, and talk with the locals. They share their stories with him because he’s a good listener.
In his book, Drinkin’ Thinking‘ we meet a few of these characters while also reading about some of Brian’s many cycling adventures. In short, it’s a book you can gobble up in one sitting or stretch out by reading one chapter (read: adventure) at at time.
Following is the Foreward that Brian asked me to write for the book. I was honoured to do so.
Shortly after I met Brian I approached him at a noisy social gathering. Debbie, his wife, had told me about his biking trips, how he was cycling from Canada to Mexico and from the Atlantic to the Pacific by riding for two weeks every year. The whole idea of it fascinated me and I wanted to know more.
“What do you think about when you’re pedalling along those endless highways?” I asked as a way of jumping in.
Brian didn’t blurt out the flippant response you might expect at this kind of event where everyone is simply making small talk and trying to be heard above the noise. Instead, he tilted his head, thought about it for a moment, and said, “That’s an interesting question.” He told me he’d have to get back to me on it. I was satisfied and intrigued as I immediately understood that there wasn’t a simple answer and a party wasn’t the place for a reflective response but it was the beginning of a conversation I hoped we would continue another day.
Fast forward ten years. I received a call from Brian asking if I’d look over some material he’d written about his cycling adventures. I was delighted to do so and gobbled up the early drafts of the following “chasing pavement” stories. I was amazed at the variety of experiences he’d chronicled, some scary, some funny but all woven together with threads of Brian’s unique wisdom and humour. I was finally getting a sense of what goes through his mind as he cycles down the highway, and no wonder he couldn’t sum up his thoughts in a pithy reply all those years ago. I encouraged him to keep writing, to polish what he’d already written and to compile his stories into a book.
I admired Brian’s courage for seeking out feedback and criticism on this project. It’s difficult to hear anything negative about a work in progress, especially one where you’re making yourself vulnerable by digging deep and sharing your passion. But Brian persevered, he worked at the craft and he can be extremely proud of the final result. Because of his hard work, we, the reader, can enjoy his insights into what solo cycling is all about, the hardships, the joys, and the nuggets of wisdom that can be gained by being curious and a good listener when perched “atop an American barstool”.
The book is available at Amazon.