Reviews of Outpedaling ‘The Big C’

Kirkus Reviews

“The Pulitzer winner interweaves a cross-country cycling travelogue with an account of growing up with her late father. A keen and poignant celebration of being alive.”

Foreword Reviews

 Outpedaling “The Big C“ journeys through illness and America, viewing the ability to put one foot in front of the other as a gift… McGowan makes sense of her circumstances and develops strength across her powerful, 4,250-mile bicycle trip. Joyful, introspective, terrifying, and sobering, her memoir is about reconciling her mortality with her father’s.

Library Journal

:This is not only a wonderful road narrative, with a delightful array of characters and quirky places featured along the way, it is also a heartfelt and engaging account of the author’s battle with cancer… Even readers with limited experience with cancer or cycling will find plenty to enjoy and identify with in this remarkable and thoughtful memoir. VERDICT This striking personal account may serve as an inspiration to anyone facing difficulties in life. For fans of Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail and William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways.


This memoir covers a lot of ground – literally. McGowan intersperses the trek tales with chapters about her melanoma, her career and her family. Long-distance cyclists, cancer patients, and people who have lost a beloved parent should find much to inspire them in this account.


Praise for Outpedaling ‘The Big C’

“What a journey—a transcontinental chronicle from a writer who is truly, fully alive!”

—Bill McKibben, the most effective environmental activist and writer of our time

“McGowan takes readers through an intimate journey—across the country and through her own past—as she shares insights and lessons learned that will resonate with cancer survivors, medical professionals, and anyone who’s ever wanted to just ‘say yes’ to an adventure. Melanoma—or any cancer—changes you and the way you see the world. Outpedaling ‘The Big C’ thoroughly and entertainingly proves that all change isn’t bad.”

Michael Kaplan, President and CEO, Melanoma Research Alliance

“Part travelogue and part diary, Elizabeth brings the reader along multiple journeys. We’re able to ride with her on her bike trip across America, sit next to her as she seeks her treatments and relishes her survival against Cancer, and listen with compassion and, at times, recognize ourselves, as she works through the loving yet complicated relationship with the father she lost to melanoma at a young age. Alone, each of the challenges Elizabeth takes on in her life would be impactful to most anyone. To have experienced them all and arrive at the other side still celebrating life shows a strength of spirit and resiliency seldom matched. With the clear voice of a journalist, the eye of an anthropologist, and the heart of a woman who has faced death in the eye and said ‘Not today,’ Outpedaling will leave you believing people are good, we all can proceed as the way opens, and everything will be OK.”

Sandi Marra, President and & CEO, Appalachian Trail Conservancy

“Fantastic and riveting story of hope and love.” Gene Dickison, host of “More than Money” on PBS 39 serving the Greater Lehigh Valley (PA, NJ, and DE)

“A book for anyone seeking inspiration to live life more deliberately and fully, especially those who have wrestled with cancer or who have lost loved ones to it.” Anna Marie Lux, The Janesville (WI) Gazette

“A powerful, rollicking adventure that takes us across America and deep into one person’s life-and-death experience.”

Carl Zimmer, New York Times science reporter