Day 89: Book review – “Heft on Wheels” by Mike Magnuson

2 04 2010

Heft on Wheels by Mike MagnusonMike Magnuson, author of “Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180,” is a 40-year-old, 255 pound heavy drinker with a pack a day smoking habit. Desperate to get into better shape, Magnuson begins cycling as a way to improve his health. A year later he’s lost over 80 pounds and has quit smoking and drinking. “Heft on Wheels” is the account of his transformation.

As a cyclist trying to lost 25 pounds (and so far failing miserably), I was really looking forward to reading this book. While it was a quick read and entertaining to some extent, I thought it was very poorly written which took away some of the enjoyment of the book. Magnuson is a Creative Writing professor at Southern Illinois University, which makes the run-on sentences and poorly constructed paragraphs seem even worse. Much of the book felt like stream-of-consciousness blathering. I’m obviously not a professional writer (nor do I pretend to be one), but as a former editor with a bachelor’s in English, I at least appreciate the value of well-written content. I don’t consider writing to be one of my strengths, but I do attempt to proofread my writing. Even something as simple as correct punctuation can go a long way in making a book enjoyable to read.

The author comes across as an egotistical jerk, which also was a distraction from what otherwise could have been a good book. The subtitle “A field guide to doing a 180” was slightly inaccurate. Yes, he did make drastic changes in his life and his behaviors, but I expected a “field guide” to be a bit more instructional. He did discuss the changes he made and documented how he threw himself into extensive training on the bike. However, I thought he spent way too much time blabbering about how much he drank/smoked/ate. Yes, I get the point! Let’s move on.

Some of the most interesting parts of the book were Magnuson’s account of two “hills-from-hell” rides that he completed. The Bridge to Bridge Incredible Challenge in Caldwell County, North Carolina is a 102-mile ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The ride finishes at the summit of Grandfather Mountain, elevation 5,280 feet — the highest point in the Blue Ridge.

The Assault on Mount Mitchell is another grueling challenge — 103 miles and 11,000 feet of climbing, starting from Spartanburg, South Carolina and finishing at the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest point in America east of the Mississippi. 

I’m certain I’ll never be signing up to ride either one of these challenges. 

Despite the things I didn’t like about the book, I have to give some credit to the fact that after half way through the book I found myself wanting to sign up for every local cycling event within a three-hour drive. It was an interesting book from the aspect of the cycling and training he put his body through, but the negatives outweighed the positives for me. It could have been a much better book.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Tomorrow is the Frankfort Avenue Easter parade. We’re decorating our bikes and wearing bunny ears on our helmets. I plan to post photos of the event tomorrow. I’m hopeful that the thunderstorms forecasted for tomorrow hold off until the parade is over.

Today’s starting weight: 150

Breakfast:
— Chocolate, peanut butter, banana smoothie = 385 cal.

Lunch:
— Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich = 430
— Iced tea = 10

Dinner:
— Potato puffs (lightly fried balls of mashed potatoes) = no idea the calories, but it’s bad I’m sure.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride!

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Thanks for visiting.

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