Astride his trusty Trek 520, Los Angeles Times correspondent Lamb (Stolen Season, 1991, etc.) pedals his way from the Potomac to the Pacific in this entertaining 3,145-mile ramble, which is more cycling manifesto than travelogue. Middle age was squatting like a fat toad on Lamb's shoulders. Feeling restless, feeling all of his 55 years, knowing that he ``could be quite fulfilled wandering aimlessly forever,'' he decided to undertake a transcontinental journey, via bicycle, without timetables and sticking to back roads. He is a worthy narrator, stopping to smell the roses and sketch for his readers the towns and characters he met en route, witnessing in many places the demise of Main Street, listening in the quiet of the night ``to the labored breathing of Small Town, America.'' But this is no Blue Highways, for as much as Lamb enjoys the open road, he is even more fascinated with cycling, its history, and what great good sense it makes in terms of simple pleasure and its benign nature. Peppered throughout the book are nuggets of cycling lore, from a sketch of a bicycle found in the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci, through the penny-farthing era, to the emergence of the mountain bike. With his light journalist's touch, he makes fair reading out of the biker's concerns: picking the good route, the torment of head winds, the terrors prompted by vicious dogs, the unfathomable ugliness showered on cyclers (ignoramuses throw bottles at him, run him off the road, shout profanities, and threaten him), all balanced by the ecstasy of smooth macadam and a downhill slope; on this trip, a wide shoulder to the road was more tantalizing than even the fairest prospect. A delightful tribute to romancing the road on a bike, and unintentionally inspirational: Lamb smokes, has high cholesterol, and chows down on fast foods. Criminy, if he could do it . . .