|The Book > Senator Kerry
Mark Twain once defined a classic as a book that everyone would like to have read, but no one wants to read. Lars Clausen has done what many people would like to have done, but no one else has ever tried. He has unicycled through every state in the Union in one summer.
Anyone who has had an impulse to get off the interstate and onto the "roads less traveled" in our land, to ratchet down from seventy miles an hour to seventy miles a day, and to know our country from the shoulder of the road, will be captivated by One Wheel - Many Spokes.
5,ll8,000 turns of the unicycle wheel. 9,l36 miles. All fifty of the United States. Supported by his wife and two children who accompanied him in an aged motor home, this is a determined and remarkable achievement.
Even more important than the pedaling is the vision which Clausen brings to his ride, making One Wheel - Many Spokes an important story of our country. He rode as a benefit for Inupiat Eskimos in Alaska, whom he had served as a pastor for four years. He explored Native American lands and people from coast to coast, discovering stories of destruction as well as resilience. He pedaled through Manhattan and to the World Trade Center ruins, starting his trip just months after the terrorist bombings, riding into a nation in the grip of deep fear.
It is hard to imagine a more vulnerable way to travel than by unicycle. In doing so, Clausen uncovers one of life's less obvious lessons: When we become vulnerable to our surroundings we open ourselves to hospitality and care. This is a story that confirms our wishes as human beings and as members of the global community. Hospitality is stronger than fear. Compassion is more effective than isolation.
Lars Clausen has done the work of a good citizen. He has looked deeply into the heart of our country and has accomplished an adventure that will inspire us for years to come. It was said of Albert Schweitzer, "He was a man of courage because he did what the rest of us would have done if we had had the courage." Bismark once said that the great challenge was to translate military courage into civilian courage. For readers of this book the challenge may be to translate unicycling courage into moral, political or personal courage.
President, New School University, Manhattan
Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient
Presidential Candidate, l992
United States Senator, l987-200l
Governor of Nebraska, l98l-l985