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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World Book Review

 Cara was sent a copy of this book to review. No other compensation was given. All opinions expressed are 100% her own.

What would you do if you were not afraid? That is the question Nancy Sathre-Vogel, author of Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World, asked herself and now asks you.

Changing Gears
After Nancy asked herself this question, she and her family made the amazing decision to embark on a journey to bike from one end of North America to the other end of South America -  a journey of physical challenge, emotional endurance, teamwork, perseverance, and tremendous learning opportunities.
Thankfully, we can go along on their journey as readers of their fabulous book!

Together with her husband and young twin sons, Nancy Sathre-Vogel set off on her heavily laden bicycle to ride from one end of the world to the other – quite literally. Starting in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, they pedaled south for three years. Theirs was a journey of over 17,000 miles through fifteen countries.
Besides enjoying learning about all the places they traveled, I also really appreciated the emotional journey Nancy takes the reader on. In the book, she grapples with the challenges any mother does. When is it time to cut the apron strings and send your children out on their own? How does a mother respond when the tides change and the children are capable of caring for their parents? How does one handle the responsibility of caring for your offspring in unknown and unpredictable circumstances? How do we know we’re doing the best for our children?

Best of all, this book inspired me! Changing Gears will encourage you to reach for the stars. It’s a story of discovery of self, of priorities, of accepting hardships, and of appreciating blessings. By the time I was done reading, I felt like part of their family, and I was ready to push my fears aside and conquer some of my own wildest dreams!

This is just a fantastic book, and I recommend it to everyone! I personally have never been on a cycling trip, but I could relate with this family through their emotional struggles, desire for adventure, and their amazing vigor for life and experiencing it to the fullest. Check out a few pictures below (the first is a few days after they started in Alaska, the second is reaching their destination), and then check out my interview with Nancy.

Vogel family on dalton highwayushuaia sign
My interview with Nancy Sathre-Vogel, author of Changing Gears and major inspiration:

What have you all been up to since you wrote this book and took this trip?
We are now living in Boise, Idaho. John and I have the philosophy that we wanted to give our sons as many varied experiences as we can. We had given the the expat life in other countries when they were young, then we spent many years traveling on bicycles. What we hadn't given them was a chance to be part of a greater community and put down roots. Now we're doing that.
What is the #1 biggest lesson you learned from your trip?
I think the biggest lesson is that we can do anything - if we can ride our bikes from Alaska to Argentina, we can do whatever we set our minds to doing. I see that in my kids now - they've gotten involved with a FIRST Robotics club and are diving in. They don't know all that much yet, but they are learning every day and are so excited about it. They have no doubt whatsoever that they will - one day - be able to build their own robots.
What advice would you give someone who wants to begin riding bikes on long adventures like yours?
Just do it. The learning curve for bike touring is pretty steep, but it's short. Take the bikes you have now and go for an overnighter. In that one trip, you'll learn 50% of what you need to know. You will have realized that things would have been easier with certain equipment, so make those changes, then go out for a long weekend. You'll learn 50% of what's left to know. Each trip you take, you'll learn another 50% of what is left to learn. You'll notice that you will never learn it all - and that's the beauty of bike touring. It will continue to challenge you - in a good way!
Find more information about their book, their journey and their family on their website and buy their book here.


  1. Thank you so much for a lovely review! It's always interesting to hear the impressions others take away from my book.

    1. Thanks for being so inspirational, Nancy! Your story is a blessing to others!

  2. How awesome!! My brother is currently hiking the Appalachian Trail and this sort of thing intrigues me. :)

    1. I have always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. Maybe I should start there and move on to biking cross country. :-)


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