Zero to Sixty: The Motorcycle Journey of a Lifetime

ISBN: 0156007045
ISBN 13: 9780156007047
By: Gary Paulsen

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Biography Currently Reading Memoir Memoirs Motorcycle Motorcycles Non Fiction Nonfiction To Read Travel

About this book

Nearing sixty, diagnosed with heart disease and feeling his mortality, Gary Paulsen buys his first Harley-Davidson and rides from his home in New Mexico to Alaska-and from the present into his past, through the landmarks of a singular life. Paulsen's journey is peopled with familiar faces, from the tough cop who saved him from juvenile delinquency to the prostitute whose career advice stopped him from quitting the army. And the work he does while on his bike-the work of mapping his life to find meaning-is of a piece with the pure sweat and muscle of youthful days spent on farms in Minnesota, or at the bottom of septic tank pits in Colorado, or wrangling dogsleds through the Alaskan wilderness. Amid the silence and beauty of running the road on his Harley, Paulsen celebrates the comforts of hard work, the thrill of challenge met bravely, and the peculiar joys of life lived to its fullest.

Reader's Thoughts


an entry in the rare (?) memoir by biker (as in motorcycle) guy class. Insightful and often funny.


(note to elementary school librarians - don't put this next to the tucker novels.)"There is something very liberating about heart disease. You get a solid, rich copper smell of your own mortality and it's impossible to keep it from affecting how you live. Life goes on around you, people have all the things happening to them that they think are vitally important-car payments, careers, lawyers, awards, families- and you KNOW, in your heart, that it's all bullshit. Heart disease gives you that freedom." pp100,101"Hitting hail on a motorcycle doing seventy or eighty miles an hour is something very close to kissing a shotgun." p125


Gary Paulson is the savior of reluctant readers in my classroom. I love that man, and I love his sparse poetic style, especially in the hatchet series. This book was good, but it's not his best. I'll be careful about recommending it to students without parent approval.


I enjoyed it well enough, but it was a bit scattered and forgettable. However, I will definitely seek out Winterdance about his experience running the Iditerod.


a memoir of an intelligent and well traveled man. he reflects, at 57, on his life, dreams and goals. i have read several of his other books and admire his style.

John E

A short book using a motorcycle ride from New Mexico to Alaska as a forum for rememberances of youth and "manliness".


This was a very slight book, merely scratching the surface of Paulsen's ride up the Alaska Highway and offering a tantalising glimpse of his thoughts and feelings. After the blood, sweat and tears of Winterdance, I know he's capable of much more depth than this. (And a Harley? Please. Get a real bike!)

Colin Higbee

This is the book that convinced my mom to suggest my dad and I should drive to the Arctic Circle.


Not your 'typical Paulsen' book for middle school boys! A great memoir,written toward adult taste and experiences. I hate to admit it, but some of the language made me blush.


Not impressed.Paulsen's not a bad writer. He does a passable Hemingway imitation, but then again, there's lots of Hemingway out there, and he did it better, so why bother?I think I have two main objection to this book, and both deal with motorcycling. And I say this as someone with several tens of thousands of miles on motorcycles myself.-- For a book ostensibly about "the motorcycle journey of a lifetime," he spends amazingly little time on the motorcycle journey. The book should have been called "A Harley Runs Through It." Which leads to my second objection.-- If you are a motorcyclist who has never bought into the Harley mythology, you're going to find many of the motorcycling bits of this book incredibly tedious, like a Christian trying to convey what Jesus means to them. If you're a Harley person, you're probably smiling and nodding at his descriptions, and if you think the Harley sound is the equivalent of mechanical flatulence, you're just wishing that he'd written a different/better book.Not a keeper.

Paul Devall

Pretty decent book covering more than just the ride. A good inspiration for a 55yo biker like me!!!


** spoiler alert ** My notes and quotes:I hate birthdays – always have – as they measure the time of life, the ticking down of the clock of life and take into account nothing of the quality of that life; a kind of shallow measurement of the time to approaching death which cannot be stopped. (p. 2).


I love just about and anything Gary Paulsen writes - especially his dog/puppy stories so this is a surprising departure. In his "retirement" and diagnosis of heart disease he fulfills a dream and buys a Harley- Davidson motorcycle. THEN he drives it from New Mexico to Alaska. It's great fun to be "along for the ride with him". He is just a warm hearted interesting kinda guy and it's good to be in his company - whether it's with the dogs or on a motorcycle.


The prose in the beginning of this book was outstanding. The last third of the book was interesting but not great. It's a good, easy read.


it was an alright book. strong begining, powerful meaning, great detail, just not an amazing ending. definitly a weekend reader

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