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Book review: Bike rides in wildflowers take a backseat to observations on life, love

By Elizabeth Currey

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, March 15 2014 3:30 p.m. MDT

"WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS: Philosophy and Botany with Bikes," by Scott Abbott and Sam Rushforth, Torrey House Press, $15.95, 364 pages (nf)

Scott Abbott and Sam Rushforth write about their wild mountain bike rides along various trails, though mainly those of Mount Timpanogos in east Orem, in “Wild Rides and Wildflowers: Philosophy and Botany with Bikes.”

Abbott and Rushforth are friends and colleagues. Both are professors at Brigham Young University when the book begins, and they later take positions at Utah Valley University. And they are in the throes of what might appear to some as a midlife crisis.

As they take to meandering up the trails, stopping to observe everything from wildflowers to wildlife, their conversations frequently turn to their own meandering lives. These conversations cover topics from their relationships with their wives and children to environmental concerns over issues such as habitat destruction and air pollution, and they go even deeper as they discuss changes in their views on the religion they had both been a part of from childhood.

Abbott is a professor of philosophy and is a German literature scholar, and Rushforth is an ecology professor and botanist. The authors manage to weave together two such disparate subjects as philosophy and botany with skill, ease and a dose of humor.

Though it’s tempting to gloss over the detailed, often technical descriptions of flora and fauna, that would be a mistake. These passages and their subjects often become metaphors and life lessons, and some of the most poignant observations come mixed in with these sections on wildflowers.

Likewise, the book becomes about more than riding bikes and admiring nature throughout the four seasons. It also provides an intimate glimpse into the minds and hearts of two men, and the outcome is both surprising and refreshing.

The book is a collection of columns originally written for the Salt Lake Observer and later for Catalyst Magazine.

The book contains moderate swearing throughout and has occasional mild references to sex.

If you go ...

What: Scott Abbott and Sam Rushforth book signing

When: Tuesday, March 18, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.

Also ...

What: Scott Abbott and Sam Rushforth book reading

When: Wednesday, March 26, noon

Where: Utah Valley University library, Orem

Web: uvu.edu/is/wildrides

Elizabeth Currey is a graduate of the University of Utah and works in corporate marketing and communications. She is also a health enthusiast, infrequent blogger and mother of an adorable toddler. Her email is elizabeth.h.currey@gmail.com.

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