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On the Wing

The story of peregrine falcon migration inspires awe — and a little envy.

By E. Dan Klepper

Alan Tennant, author of the briskly selling nonfiction tale On the Wing, now out in paperback, is at this very moment halfway across the country signing books. Other than scribbling his name, Tennant has been sitting inactively for days. In fact, his entire 130 pounds of gristle and sinew are slowly atrophying from lack of use.

In his absence, I’ve been spending hours and hours furiously pedaling a bicycle down a stretch of empty, West Texas blacktop that Tennant and I frequently share whenever he is not traveling — that is to say, when he is at home in the chew-spit of a town we also share called Marathon.

You see, Alan Tennant is my neighbor. He is also my bicycling nemesis. And while I am a writer as well, I don’t begrudge him his success with On the Wing. I don’t mind that it has led to some great writing assignments for Tennant while I’m still pitching unsolicited GORP recipes to Backpacker Magazine. I am delighted with his New York Times’ bestseller listing and his number-three rating on Amazon.com, his high-dollar publisher, his guest appearances and his string of movie deals. Because the book, a true highjinks adventure that follows Tennant and his scrappy pilot buddy as they track the migration of a peregrine falcon across the North American continent, is really a satisfying read. What I do mind is the fact that Tennant, who is at least a decade my senior and bereft of powerhouse quads like mine that have been years in the making, is faster and stronger on a bicycle — a fact that absolutely drives me mad.

So, by all means, buy the book. Keep Alan Tennant sitting on his buttocks writing his name over and over again. All I know is that Tennant is still just a man, just a simple man who can only pedal so fast.

According to his busy but sedentary schedule, Tennant is due back home next week from this latest, monthlong book-signing tour. In the meantime, I am going to keep riding long and hard until I am able to leave Tennant in the dust. In fact, I am going to get back on the bike right now and ride at a speed and strength more powerful than Alan Tennant with his big entertaining story of beautiful raptors, breathtaking adventures, ramshackle airplanes and crazy characters will ever hope to match. OK, maybe not right now. But definitely right after I finish watering his plants and feeding his cat.

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