About the Author

Doug Shidell

I’ve been riding bikes and writing about bicycling since 1970. My favorite riding has always been in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin, a geologically unique and beautiful landscape featured in my novel “On His Own Terms.” This is the area that opened my eyes to the massive forces that have formed the land we live on. And that landscape, in turn, has dictated where we build our cities, layout our railroads and highways, escape for recreation, mine for ore, plant crops and raise families. It’s humbling to realize that forces ten thousand to half a billion years old shape our lives today.

The bicycle has given me that perspective. It is a unique vehicle, capable of covering enough distance to get the larger perspective of the landscape, but slow enough to take in the details.

It’s also a vehicle for interaction. As a bicycle tourist, I’ve met dozens of people from all walks of life. As a bicycle commuter, I’ve ridden the same daily route often enough to get to know residents, walkers, runners and other cyclists along the way. As a writer and bicycle map maker, I’ve met hundreds of fascinating people.

My writing career started with an odd premise. At age 20, I decided to write a book. I’m not sure where that came from since I dropped out of a University class when I discovered that it required writing term papers. I was neither mature nor savvy at age 20, but I did know that no one would read a book by a twenty year old unless they had some other reason to pick it up.

By this time I had been riding a bicycle for nearly a year and explored Dane County (surrounding Madison, Wisconsin) extensively. I felt like an expert, a typical 19 year old response, and decided to write a bicycle touring guide. I hooked up with friend and fellow cyclist Phil Van Valkenberg.

Together we wrote “Bicycle Escape Routes.” We used it as a vehicle to write an unusual and eclectic mix of stories. They were neither mature nor savvy, but it was a bicycle touring guide published during the bicycle boom of 1970 and it sold reasonably well. It opened up freelance writing opportunities.

Ten years later I moved to Minneapolis with the idea that I would write the Great American Novel and establish myself as a real writer. I was thirty years old and should have known better. I tried to write that novel multiple times since 1980, but had more luck with freelance writing, map making and a day job.

I retired from the day job in 2018 and realized that I had no excuses for further delay. “On His Own Terms” is not the book I set out to write in 1980. It isn’t the book I started writing in 2018, and I’m mature enough now to realize that it isn’t the Great American Novel, if such a thing even exists today. I enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it.