Finally a non-fiction adventure!
Seems like I’ve been on a roll with literary journeys of epic proportion. Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates and The Alchemist were both fantastic reads, but only so much inspiration can be gained from fictional accounts of incredible travels. So, thanks to Ted Simon for sharing his 78,000 mile ride across the planet on his Triumph motorcycle.
I’d actually been meaning to read this book for quite a while, but it wasn’t available as an audiobook until mid-2015. I’m glad they waited a while because the narrator does an incredible job of telling the story. In the prologue Ted Simon even comments that the narrator sounds more like himself that he does. (Note: Ted Simon is still alive and still doing cool stuff!)
Spanning the course of more than four years in the 1970s, Ted Simon travels from his home in Europe, down through Africa, across to South America, up to The United States, over to Australia, through Asia, and back home. The book focuses on many of the adventures along the way and gives a little insight to the personal transformations resulting from adopting a life on the road. Although the journey is often difficult or downright awful, the spirit of adventure always prevails. One could easily imagine Mr. Simon as the hero of an action film… Always escaping from trouble and misfortune just when it seems all hope is lost.
Part of what amazes me about the book is that there journey is SO long that there are often gigantic gaps in the story. This doesn’t make the book any less enjoyable, but it would have taken volumes of books to actually document the trip in its entirety.
Part of what makes this book so enjoyable for me is the attainability of his adventure. Yes, he DOES have a sponsorship, but he’s also just a normal guy out on the road. He learns about himself and others in ways that all of us could do if we just set our minds to it.
In spite of wars and tourism and pictures by satellite, the world is just the same size it ever was. It is awesome to think how much of it I will never see. It is not a trick to go round these days, you can pay a lot of money and fly round it nonstop in less than forty-eight hours, but to know it, to smell it and feel it between your toes you have to crawl. There is no other way. Not flying, not floating. You have to stay on the ground and swallow the bugs as you go. Then the world is immense. The best you can do is to trace your long, infinitesimally thin line through the dust and extrapolate.
Anyone that finds themselves enjoying the book absolutely MUST get the corresponding book of Ted Simon’s photographs. Amazon Link. The ability to actually see what the author saw makes everything even more real, and a lot of additional stories are included.