A Unicyclist's Guide to America
Foreword by Janisse Ray
"This is just the kind of epic we need right now—humble, sweet, and very deep indeed. As good a travel story—within and without—as you'll read anytime soon!"
—Bill McKibben, author of New York Times bestseller Eaarth
"My speedometer says zero," a Missouri woman said, leaning toward the passenger window of her red Camaro, which she had slowed to a near stop. Unicyclist Mark Schimmoeller was surprised. After all, he had made it from North Carolina, traveling around a thousand miles at this speed.
Her message was the same as one he’d received from a Tennessee man yelling at him, "You ain’t going nowhere," only gentler in tone. He chose to be encouraged. From Missouri, Mark Schimmoeller unicycled on (still going zero) to northern Arizona, exploring these questions of speed, progress, and meaning.
Mark was twenty-four then; he is forty-six now, married and living in a small off-the-grid cabin in the Kentucky woods. Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America is told from the perspective of the present-day homesteader. The adventures of Schimmoeller's youth are recalled when he encounters the emotional equivalent of a tractor-trailer gust: the news that the beloved old woods near his house is about to be logged and developed. Mark begins an effort to save the woods and as he does so he retreats into stories that buffer him with happy endings. As a young man, his unicycle slowed his pace; now, thinking about it slows time for him, keeps the tall trees standing. As the narrative alternates between past and present, dream and reality, he looks with a fresh gaze at his Kentucky home, with the precise love of someone slated to give a eulogy.
People who have gone back to the land or wonder if they could, who have slowed down to experience life at a unicycle’s speed or who long to do so, who have fallen in love, who have treasured tall trees or mourned their loss, will find a voice in Slowspoke. Written with poise and humor, Slowspoke is for anyone who still leans against prevailing winds toward a better America and world.