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Explore the Great Lakes States with CWU's First Book

Last week, my company Spoke & Word Books released the first volume of the CWU series. It was quite the event.

Many, many thanks to Charlottesville's Peloton Station for hosting, and especially to everyone who showed up to support me and CWU. Even the Surly touring rig admitted to having a great time.

Conversation With US - Great Lakes States represents the culmination of years of blood, sweat, and gears. I somehow managed to pack 1,900 miles, 30-some interviews, and 8 states into 280 beautiful pages. I couldn't be more proud of the result.

As you might imagine, the route from planning to pedal to print was no easy downhill coast. In fact, much like my exploration of our 50 states with CWU, arriving at the finish line required multiple journeys, each an entirely distinct subpart of a larger goal. Dreaming up CWU was one thing; actually learning what it would take, and then pulling out the credit card to buy and outfit a touring bike, was something else. Then came the hours and hours of training, planning, scheduling, logistical work, and bicycle mechanics, followed by weeks of actual pedaling, striving to stay safe and healthy while pushing myself as far as I could go physically and mentally, but also taking a break each day to slow down and delve into the lives and thoughts of everyday Americans. Back home, I labored to organize the massive trove of information I collected on tours: photos, interviews, journal entries, media contacts, video and audio recordings, GPS map data, addresses for sending thank you postcards. And I was just getting started.

Sitting down to write--to be disciplined and actually write a book--took more energy (and time) than I could have imagined. Then, the editing. Oh, the editing. It was like writing it all over again.

Meanwhile, I hustled along the publishing circuit, sending queries to agents, Facebook messages to "influencers," and proposals to editors. This multi-pronged exercise in futility taught me that if I wanted to present CWU my way--publishing multiple successive volumes to give a voice to every single person I interviewed--then I would have to publish the series myself. So, I learned what it takes to start and run a company (Spoke & Word Books) and then what it takes to design, print, and distribute a book. When the big day arrived, I had my brown paper bag ready to help calm my breathing.

But the delivery went as smooth as butter. And now here we are, in the newest phase of my unfamiliar odyssey: getting the book into readers' hands. Virginia's oldest bookseller, New Dominion Bookshop, has been the first brick-and-mortar retailer to take part in that endeavor.

For those who have already ordered a copy of Conversations With US - Great Lakes States, thank you. I very much hope you enjoy the ride.

For everyone else, I invite you to take a look at the book here. I think you'll like what you see.

Copies ordered direct from the CWU website offer more support to your favorite cycling journalist, and will arrive signed at your door. However, if you'd prefer to purchase via Amazon, this link will take you there. Either way, I would very much appreciate your feedback in the form of an Amazon review via that same link, which can be done even if you purchased the book here.

If you find yourself enjoying Great Lakes States so much that you read it too fast, don't fret. Conversations WIth US - American Southwest is coming soon.

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