Zero to Sixty: The Motorcycle Journey of a Lifetime

ISBN: 0156007045
ISBN 13: 9780156007047
By: Gary Paulsen

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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

Colin Higbee

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


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.


He rode to Alaska on a Har_ D_on. A good idea coupled with a dumb idea. It's generally not a bad read. I love a good ride tale. He even offers some interesting insights to the human condition observed in Japan (etas-invisible work & the people that toil in it; those that look down on them). Contrast that with usual cliche Yank biases and narrow world-view that muddies the narrative elsewhere (Mexicans; Indians etc).He tells us about some of his earlier machines: 150 Honda; CB77 Super Hawk and others (interesting). But American guys just can't get past the insecure need to get a HarDon (boring!). I have been to Alaska twice so I get the fascination with the place.I am left with the following feeling about the author: Americans seem to think they should be able to take credit (personally) for the collective ingenuity produced by their nation-a nation of individualists that won't acknowledge the value and place of common good-but take credit for its legacy. Oh Well.


Didn't make me laugh like "Winterdance", but it was still a decent read. Introspective, but neither deep enough nor glib enough to make it truly memorable.


(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


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.


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.

Tamara Metz

Despite some less than stellar reviews, this book really resonated with me. Definitely an adult book with adult concepts and adult swear words.


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!)

John E

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


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 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.

Paul Devall

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


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

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