BOOK REVIEW: The Buddha and the Bee by Cory Mortensen

Publication Date: August 9, 2020
Format: Kindle
Genre:  Memoir 

Publisher: White Condor LLC
354 pages
Buy:  Kindle | Paperback


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.


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I really struggled through this book.  I wanted to like it and I did like parts of it.  Mortensen takes us on a tour of little known facts about small towns scattered across America on his unplanned trip biking from Minnesota to California.  It has taken Mortensen years to write this memoir and it makes me wonder why. 

As he fumbles his was on his journey he meets some interesting people, discovers some interesting facts and ruminates about other trips he has been on backpacking through different countries.  As I read I kept wonder when he was going to learn something and what he was going to learn.  Most people who undertake these types of journeys do so to find something they feel is lacking in their lives, or to see where their limits are.  I felt Mortensen was just bored and decided to put off getting a desk job and take an epic bike journey.  Hey, kudos to him because I would not be up for it.  I am definitely impressed by his ability to talk himself out of quitting day after day, even when things weren't going his way.  

However, I didn't feel much was learned along this journey except maybe that he didn't want a regular desk job, but instead wanted to travel and explore the world. There didn't seem to be much self reflection at all in fact and it read like what it was a bored guy who decided to push himself to do something epic. 

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