Day 15, Pilgrim Spokes – Western Pennsylvania

Our Day From Hell


The one consistent bit of advice I got for the eastern half of the country was to avoid riding on the highways in western Pennsylvania. Especially US-40. But after a particularly good day yesterday, we decided to go ahead and US-40 a try. How bad could it be, anyway?

By the end of the day we’d been assaulted with empty beer bottles from a passing pickup truck, ridden 118 miles, and climbed nearly 12,000 feet. I was bruised, battered, and bone tired as we finished the day well after dark, riding steep and hilly roads while the temperature plummeted to below 40 degrees F.

One large pizza (covered with every kind of meat available) and a hot shower fixed me right up. But it’s a day I won’t ever forget. Probably the hardest (and worst) day of riding between the Pacific and the Atlantic, sandwiched between two wonderful days.

A cross-country bicycle adventure is the canvas for this tale of discovery along the winding backroads of America’s heartland. The second book in the “Cycling Reflections” series, Pilgrim Spokes tells the story of the eastern half of the trans-American trek, continuing the saga begun in Neil’s award-winning previous book—Pilgrim Wheels—which reconnoiters the western half of the journey.

More than just a journal of a bike ride across the country, Hanson’s delightful and beautifully written story takes the reader on an engaging pilgrimage of observation and reflection. Often hilarious, sometimes poignant, and always inspiring, it’s a must-read adventure that will stir your soul.