My latest novel, Full Cycle, tells the story of eleven-year-old Alex Peterson. Alex is the least-athletic boy in his school, but he dreams of doing something unimaginable: the 200-mile, one-day Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. Alex discovers that if he’s to reach even the starting line, he must overcome more than his physical disability. He must also find a way to revive his father’s own long-dormant dreams, and convince his dad to join forces with him, before they can achieve together what neither would on his own.
Is this a story about cycling? Of course. But, more than that, it’s a story about growing up. About growing together as father and son. About overcoming what we think are disabilities. About supporting and encouraging our kids when they strive to push beyond their limits. It’s a story about pursuing a crazy dream — and how much more meaningful that pursuit can be when it’s shared with someone else. Above all, this is a story about family. It’s a story for everyone, no matter how many or how few miles you rode your bike last year.
This spring, I got some terrific news: Full Cycle won “Best Inspirational Fiction” in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
Every novelist draws on his or her own experiences when writing. I’ve been an avid cyclist since my youth, and loved the freedom it gave to go as far as my own efforts would take me. However, when kids started coming along, I found it increasingly difficult to put in the training miles necessary for the ultramarathon events I’d been doing. Late in the year our second child was born, I chose to hang the bike up. Only when the kids grew older, and became interested in riding, did I reconsider. We ended up buying a tandem, which proved to be the perfect way to ride together.
My eldest daughter got bitten by the long distance cycling bug as badly as I did as a young adolescent, and her enthusiasm got me back in the sport full force. By the time she turned ten or eleven, she was already wanting to travel with me to Seattle to ride STP. She got her wish when, the year she turned twelve, our whole family went to the Pacific Northwest for a summer vacation. She did 130 of the 202 miles with me on our tandem — and would have done the whole thing, if her brothers hadn’t wanted their own turns. In many ways, her dedication inspired me to tell the story of Alex and Rob.
Above all, I’m indebted to my kids (and my daughter in particular) for helping me discover that sports don’t have to be a wedge that divides parents from kids. Sports don’t have to be something that parents pursue on their own. Sports don’t have to consume the family’s time and attention, as parents shuttle kids all over creation to practices and games. Sports, done right, can bring parents and kids together.
And in that vein, I wrote Full Cycle to be enjoyed by parents and kids alike. It’s completely G-rated. It includes no profanity, no sensuality, and no violence. I wanted to be able to share it with my own kids. It is not a traditional “young adult” (YA) novel, however; it has an adult-level vocabulary and length, and does not follow all the YA genre conventions. But, that said, adolescents and pre-teens who enjoy reading beyond the typical “YA” genre will enjoy it a lot. It’s a fast-paced story, and a quick read. A number of readers have told me they’ve shared the book with their kids, and that the kids have enjoyed it as much as they did.
Kirkus Reviews says: “A father and son attempt the bike ride of their lives in this inspirational novel. …An uplifting, freewheeling ode to the bond between a parent and child.” The full text of their review gives an excellent overview of the story’s themes
The Cascade Courier, the newspaper of the Pacific Northwest’s largest bicycle club, ran this review in their July, 2016 issue:
This review, by a Cascade member who bought the book after reading the review above, may be the one of the most enthusiastic I’ve ever received.
For those outside North America, Amazon has the print edition of the book in stock and available for fast local delivery (including free shipping options) in the U.K., Germany, Spain, Italy, and Japan. The Kindle edition is available on virtually every local Amazon site.
Passport is a coming of age story about a young man’s discovery of self-sacrificial love. It is told through the eyes of Stan Eigenbauer, who is living a generally upright ─ but comfortable and self-satisfied ─ bachelor’s life. When he meets a lovely young woman, he thinks he’s found the one thing that was missing: a passport to “heaven on earth.”
But then a serious lapse in judgment changes everything, and Stan faces a decision with no good options. He ends up making an unconventional choice that appears both heroic and suicidal. As the story progresses, and Stan struggles with the consequences of his unconventional choice, he grows more faithful to his commitments and more committed to his faith. And he discovers a depth of joy and happiness far beyond what he or we could have expected.
Passport won a bronze medal for best religious fiction in the Independent Publishers Book Awards. It is also a recipient of the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval.
“…Passport is a tale of choices, love, and doing what’s best for others and oneself. Highly recommended reading.” —Midwest Book Review
“Passport is a great read whose message doesn’t obscure the page-turning romance, a story that will have a special resonance with Catholic men.” —Regina Doman, author of Angel in the Waters
“Fascinating to read…throughout Passport, there is the thread of a man who’s made a mistake and tries to right the wrong. And even if it takes sacrificing the rest of his life, he’s willing to keep trying, making him a modern hero.” —Gilbert Magazine