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Book Review: Twenty Miles Per Cookie by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

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Twenty miles per cookie – what could encourage kids more than a cookie, during tough journeys? And what about those journeys that deserve said cookies? The Vogel family just returned last year from a multi-year odyssey spanning the Americas – mom, dad, and two boys. Appropriately called Family on Bikes, they took everything they needed on their bikes. They learned along the way — much more than we can imagine — and all because they took a chance and explored where the road led. Talk about life learning from real experiences: about being in cultures, instead of reading about them; of physically doing something that most people would not even consider. But they didn’t do it just once – they did it twice. First, they biked across North America. Then, they biked the Pan American Highway.

Twenty Miles Per CookieNancy Sathre-Vogel, the mom of the biking Vogel family, a former Peace Corps volunteer, and global educator, penned a book about their adventures biking across North America. Entitled Twenty Miles Per Cookie: 9,000 Miles of Kid-Powered Adventures, it’s an honest look at the grueling labor of love this bike journey was. It details the joys and challenges of a year-long journey their family took on bikes around North America. Take two teachers, two twins, and two bikes (one three-person bike, one solo bike), add in one Very Long Route, and you’ve got an amazing journey (and story).

I asked author Sathre-Vogel about her book and received this response:

Twenty Miles Per Cookie tells of our adventures and misadventures as we cycled around the USA and Mexico with our 8-year-old twin sons. Our journey wasn’t always easy – in fact it was downright hard at times! — but it was always wonderful. Together as a family we cycled through 19 US states and five Mexican states and had more adventures in that year than most people do in a lifetime. If a family can cycle 9300 miles together (and later another 17,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina) then the sky is the limit.”

Vogel family in New Mexico
Vogel family in New Mexico

The book shares the nuts and bolts of taking a long-term family bike journey. If you’ve not thought about flat tires, bike loads, camping logistics, health issues, food, places to sleep, and water before you take your own bike journey, read this first. For instance, having plenty to drink is critical to any journey. Having to carry it on your bike is something most people don’t think of. Yet in one instance where the Vogels were 70 miles away from the next water source, the Gatorade Angels (familyonbikes.org/blog/2012/01/gatorade-angels-random-acts-of-kindness/) showed up with a whole case of Gatorade they had bought, and saved the day. Every 15 miles, the Gatorade Angels built a rock cairn and left 4 bottles of Gatorade. This went on for 200 km, until the Vogels reached their daily destination. 

Other acts of kindness scattered throughout the book include people offering their lawns for camping or their houses and showers and kitchens with the family, of food being shared, of generosity and kindness and the humanity that saves us all.

Vogel family at the redwoods

Vogel family at the Redwoods

This memoir – of an arduous journey, and a family traveling together – is a reminder of the struggles that challenge us, the joys that facing such challenges bring, and the goodness that is present in the world.

I am looking forward to Nancy’s next book about cycling the Pan Am Highway, from the northern tip of Alaska all the way down to the southern tip of Argentina, the “end of the world.” I’m addicted to reading this family’s adventures, doing something so challenging in this very modern world where we often get out of touch with nature, movement, and exploring a land inch by inch.

Vogel family in Texas

Vogel family in Texas

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About Dr. Jessie Voigts