In this debut self-help memoir, a lifelong asthmatic rediscovers his love of bicycling, which he connects to life lessons.
While attending elementary school in the 1970s, Guerra loved football, but he struggled with annual bouts of tonsillitis. Spurred on by his coach, he succeeded in tackling players much larger than he was until middle school, when his classmates finally outgrew him. He also suffered from then-undiagnosed exercise-induced asthma, which dealt a further blow to his confidence. As a result, he didn’t take up sports again until he was in his 30s; this time, it was cycling, because of his fond memories of riding as a young man. Overweight, saddled with a sedentary job that he hated, and feeling unattractive (“I looked like a doughboy,” he writes), Guerra not only decided to shed the pounds but also to leave his high-salaried job. Drawing on retirement funds, he reinvented himself as a trainer, speaker, and writer. He also embarked on harrowing cycling challenges that required him to push his limits. Despite all of the back story, however, this book isn’t intended solely as a memoir, but also a self-help guide. The author quotes Albert Einstein (in the title) and motivational authors Dr. Wayne Dyer and Jack Canfield, among others. He concludes each chapter with “René’s Rules for the Road” which reiterate points, offer self-reflection exercises, and suggest techniques for living in the moment (“Don’t allow your ego to keep you from moving forward in your journey”). Overall, Guerra is a highly engaging storyteller, and he successfully draws parallels between lessons he’s learned while cycling and his optimistic outlook on life. The account of his mother’s death in 2016 and of being surrounded by butterflies on an exhausting multiday ride are particularly touching. He often references God throughout the text, but in an expansive, undogmatic way. However, in Chapter 11, Guerra quotes several testimonials from friends that could have been more organically woven into previous chapters.
An earnest, uplifting self-help work that concludes awkwardly.