Book Review: Changing Gears

Posted By Allison on Mar 21, 2013

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Nancy Sathre-Vogel and her family inspire me to think big. Here’s why.

Nancy, with her husband and twin sons, who were ten years old at the beginning of the two-year trip, bicycled from the top of Alaska to the bottom tip of Argentina. Changing Gears – A Family Odyssey to the End of the World  is the story of that journey.

In some ways, I can’t relate to the Vogel family at all. This trip was not the first time the family had lived abroad, nor was it their first extended bicycle trip with their children. I, on the other hand, have lived my entire life in the Western United States and can barely stay upright on a bicycle.

Yet from one mother to another, Nancy shares the same hopes and worries for her children that I feel for mine. She wants them to be happy. She wants them to be healthy. She wants to give them the world. She wants them to be safe. That, I get.

In Changing Gears, Nancy takes us on her family’s journey, from the first flash of inspiration to their return home to Boise, Idaho. From Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina.

As a mother, I felt Nancy’s anxiety over whether or not it was wise to take her sons on a journey so long and difficult. I also admired the family’s adventurous spirit as they ultimately decided together that they could do something that had never been done. Nancy’s sons hold the world record for being the youngest people to ride the entire Pan-American Highway.

There were many difficult moments on the journey. The Vogel family nearly ran out of food in the wilds of Alaska, froze in Wyoming, endured the heat and humidity of Central America, climbed the long steep peaks of the Andes, were eaten by monster mosquitoes in Argentina, and battled wind and rain all through their journey. The family coped with illness, major mechanical failures and exhaustion throughout the trip, and particularly during the last half.

Oh, and one of the boys was pursued by a bear in Canada while Nancy chased after them both on her bicycle. The adventure of a lifetime wasn’t always fun or rewarding, and Nancy does not pretend that it was.

Fortunately for the Vogels, the triumphs outweighed the hardships on their epic ride. They experienced the scenery and culture of more than a dozen countries. They found old friends along the way and met many new ones. They were blessed by “Road Angels” throughout their journey who generously gave them food, shelter and motorized escorts through heavy urban traffic. They experienced the beauty and wonder of places like the Alaskan tundra, the Canadian Rockies, Yellowstone National Park, the rain forest, the Galapagos Islands, the towering Andes, Patagonia, and finally, the “End of the World”. Nancy and John watched their boys grow into confident and capable young men.

A journey like this one is completely crazy and oh, so cool at the same time. Nancy’s writing is honest and readable. She moves the story forward at a nice pace, describing the high points and the low and the lessons learned from both. The book is filled with photos from the journey, though it was difficult to fully appreciate them on my old Kindle.

This is the kind of story that makes me wonder, “What’s my dream and what’s keeping me from making it happen?”

Would you like to purchase a copy of Changing Gears? Get it here.


Release Week Celebration!

In celebration of the release of Changing Gears, Nancy, with the help of a few of her favorite sponsors, is holding a giveaway of the following prizes:
This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents and will end at 11:59 pm on March 27th.
Disclosure: is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. This event was organized by Victoria at Drive Me Crazy Family Adventure on behalf of the author, Nancy Vogel, Family on Bikes.


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Hi there! I am the founder of Tips for Family Trips. I am a married mom of two children, ages 10 and 12, living near Salt Lake City, Utah. We took our first child on a two-week road trip when she was four weeks old and we have been traveling as a family ever since. We love to get out of the house to see and do fun things, both far away and in our own neighborhood.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for a lovely review!! I love this part: This is the kind of story that makes me wonder, “What’s my dream and what’s keeping me from making it happen?” That is exactly what I hoped people would take away from the book!


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