When Lynne Ashdown, her new lover, and more than fifty Italian male cyclists departed Italy in June of 1990, no one had yet ventured into the Long-closed reaches of Eastern Europe since the falling of the Iron Curtain more than forty years before. They would be cycling almost a thousand miles from Verona, across Northern Italy, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland to Warsaw, in just ten days. Ashdown hadn't realized she would be the only woman cycling with the fifty-four men. One American Woman Fifty Italian Men tells not only of a sweeping journey of adventure, romantic disaster, and cultural collision, but also of a revelation of Ashdown's identity, forged by her will in the constant pain of trying to keep up with the men who were stronger. This trip back in time shows the stark contrasts between the world she knew as an American and the world she saw in impoverished Eastern Europe. This true story, rich with images of the countries they cycled through, describes the warmth and the cycling lives of the Italians, as well as the lives of people who lived under communism for so long and the values that survive all governments. In One American Woman Fifty Italian Men, Ashdown conveys the aloneness of cycling over vast distances even in a spread-out pack, the growing pain and fatigue of each pedal-stroke, and the caring of the men for her and for each other. This journey draws us into a universal drama not just of cyclists, but also of hearts and possibilities. About the Author Lynne grew up roaming the hills of Oakland, California, pretending to be an explorer. Married and divorced young, she raised her two boys in Mill Valley, California. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, she became a singer-guitarist and played in venues around the San Francisco Bay Area. Years later, her mother bribed her to stop singing in return for paying her way through college. She seized the opportunity and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, one year ahead of her oldest son. Her degree in (third world) Development Studies has served to deepen her vision of the world she writes about. A native Californian, she also has lived in Hawaii, Libya, Italy, and England, and has traveled by bicycle over much of Europe and the Western United States. Spurred on by an insatiable desire to know the truth of the world, in 2005 she walked over four hundred miles across Spain on the Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage Trail. There are many truths, she learned, and her quest continues. She became a writer through the back door in the context of work, before finally following her heart and publishing tales of her adventures in newspapers and magazines. A longtime feng shui practitioner, she has also written Twenty First Century Feng Shui for Your Home Office, to be published soon. Also in the works is a tale of misadventures she experienced on the bike and with Italian culture while scouting cycle-touring routes in Italy for a guidebook. Writing is her joy. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.
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December 21, 2012
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