2013 produced some very interesting titles within the motorcycle travel sector, but none perhaps as personal as Ashes to Boonville; ultimately the story of a family reunion, delivered in a very special package.
Geoff, a London dispatch rider (call-sign Blue88), travels to California’s Boonville (population 715) carrying the most important job he’s ever had. His friend Adam accompanies him which generates just a little tension..
It’s an easy narrative, relayed with enough dry wit to entertain, but it’s never forced, there is just beautiful turn of phrase. On hearing from his daughter:
“She gives me the news from England, the activities of her best friends, the latest cool bands that I ought to be listening to, a shopping list of things that I should really try to bring back with me and news that my house in England has burned down.”
I don’t want to give the plot away – although the title of the book may – because I think it’s a book everyone should find the time to read. It isn’t full of crisis and heroism, although there’s certainly surprise, not least from Geoff when he hears from the Triumph factory that they doubt his 955 Tiger will make the journey and that he really should buy something else! He doesn’t luckily, and instead just presses on with a daily budget of £20 and an open mind that rewards him with human kindness everywhere he rides.
Everywhere that is, except during his first few days in Russia where he seems to be a beacon for every crooked cop. There is of course the flip side of the Russian underworld which embraces him and demonstrates a level of hospitality he’s never before experienced.
It’s a warming story and an honest one, although after a wonderful start, it stutters and does take a few chapters to get back into its stride as we hear just a little too much about preparation and the early stages. Do bear with it, the encounters with bears, bureaucracy and incredible generosity are definitely worth it and he does paint a beautiful picture of the world. He’s one of the few writers that let’s you see a Siberia beyond the mosquitos. Grab your copy here.
Of course Boonville is really only half-way, as Geoff still needs to get home, so look out for ‘Homeward Bound’, the second in the Poor Circulation trilogy.
Review by Paddy Tyson
Paperback 377 pages and a handful of B&W images £11.95
Published by CreateSpace
Geoff Thomas is a Jupiter’s Traveller.