The Buddha and the Bee: Biking through America's Forgotten Roadways on a Journey of Discovery
by Cory Mortensen
...But this is NOT a typical blah-blah-blah memoir
Planning is for sissies. A solo bike ride across the country will be filled with sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, and 80 degree temps every day, right? Not so much. The Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, an alkaline desert, and the Sierra Nevadas lay miles and days ahead. Disappointment with unrealized potential, and the thirst for what’s next drew farther away in the rotating wide-angle shockproof convex rear-view mirror.
"I will ride my bike down a never-ending ribbon of asphalt wearing a backpack."
Cory Mortensen began his bike ride across the United States from Chaska, Minnesota, to Truckee, California, without a route, a timeline, or proper equipment. Along the way, he gained more than technical skills required for a ride that would test every fiber of his physical being and mental toughness. Ride along as he meets “unusual” characters, dangerous animals, and sweet little old ladies with a serious vendetta for strangers in their town.
Humor ■ Insight ■ Adventure ■ Gratitude ■ Peace
From long stretches of road ending in a vanishing point at the distant horizon, to stunning vistas, terrifying close calls, grueling conditions, failed equipment, and joyous milestones he stayed the course and gained an appreciation for the beauty of the land, the genius of engineering and marvel of nature.
(Takes place September 12, 2001, the day after the terrorist attacks against the US.)
Soon after the Continental Divide, I came across what would become my favorite sign in the world—a yellow diamond shape with a truck going downhill. It was time to stop, check the tyres and brakes—it was peanut butter and jelly time!
My emotions went from dread to elation in mere moments. I found myself overtaking my first car. Pedaling was useless, I didn’t I have enough gear to make it worthwhile, so I rode at the speed of gravity. I smacked my lips, eager to rejuvenate them with water. My main focus was on my speed and keeping my pack from swinging side to side on the turns. I regulated my speed by using my posture. Tucked down, speed increased; straightened up, my body served as an air brake. The brake pads were useless on a downhill like this. Coming to a slow stop in town? No problem. Trying to come to a complete stop doing forty miles per hour plus? Forget about it.
I passed another car, my speed maxing out at forty-five miles per hour. After fifteen minutes, I could see Steamboat Springs in the valley. I couldn’t believe this downhill. It was a present—nay, a reward. It was nine miles of bliss.
Steamboat Springs was more beautiful then I remembered. The last time I had been there was in 1995, when some buddies and I decided to road trip to Moab, Utah, to camp and mountain bike.
My choices of places to stay were abundant, but since I spent the last few hours tackling it, I opted to stay at the Rabbit Ears Motel. I checked in, ordered some Chinese, and turned on the TV. I was eager to finally see the events of the prior days.
The replay of the airplanes smashing into the towers wasn’t resonating. I watched the event repeat itself for thirty minutes, in- terrupted only by tone-deaf commercials. The reporters and news commentators talked, but I didn’t listen to their words. I couldn’t figure out if it was real. How many times had I seen Hollywood blow things up with breathtakingly realistic accuracy? I was more confused than I was upset or angry.
The footage moved from the Twin Towers to a field in Pennsylvania, the wreckage of a smoldering plane, Flight 93, which had crashed in Stonycreek Township. Although the passengers fought with the terrorists to regain control of the plane, in the end, the plane crashed. They played recovered audio of passengers praying, leaving voicemails for loved ones, and planning to fight back. Then they played a voicemail from a man who had been on Flight 175:
This is Brian. Listen, I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked.
If things don’t go well, and it’s not looking good, I just want you to know that I absolutely love you.
I want you to do good, go have good times—same to my parents and everybody.
I just totally love you… and I’ll see you when you get there.
Bye, babe. I hope I call you.”
At that moment, it all became real. I sat on the bed and cried. I felt so removed from it all.
The crew, the passengers, the people in the buildings and on the ground, the firefighters… they were all somebody’s dad, mom, wife, husband, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend. But they weren’t any of those things to me.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Cory Mortensen has ridden his collection of bicycles over a million miles of asphalt, dirt, mud, and backroads. In addition to the cross-country journey detailed in this book, he has traveled to over fifty-five countries, cycled from Minneapolis to Colorado solo to raise money for children born with congenital heart defects. He’s completed sixteen marathons on five continents, and survived three days of running with the bulls in Spain.
Cory is a certified Advanced PADI diver, and has enjoyed taking in life under the waves in locations all over the world. In 2003, he took time off from roaming, and accidentally started and built a company which he sold in 2013. That same year he married his best friend and explored the state of Texas for two years. The couple sold everything they owned, jumped on a plane to Ecuador and volunteered, trekked, and explored South America for sixteen months before returning to Phoenix, Arizona, where he works as a consultant and is soon to be a bestselling author.
The Buddha and the Bee is his first memoir in which he shares how a two month leave of absence redefined his life’s trajectory of sitting behind a desk and his decision to break society’s chains so he could live life on his terms.
Buy the book links
Amazon Hardcover: https://www.amazon.com/Buddha-Bee-Cory-Mortensen/dp/1735498114
Indiebound Hardcover: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781735498119
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