‘The Butterfly Route’ by Michelle Lamphere

“I love the easy mixing of cultures you find with motorcycle travellers in most of the world. Everyone is so open and comfortable” says Michelle Lamphere, capturing what is the very essence of motorcycle travel for many of us.

The author has a great eye for detail, the pace is consistently high-pitched and her tight-prose style vividly describes the places, people and situations experienced on her two-year journey through the Americas. Her description of riding through a New England autumn makes me want to experience those roads, in that season, more than anything else I’ve read.

Delivered in travelogue style, there’s high-drama and mundanity, reality and emotion, coincidence and force majeure take turns in shaping the story, which is not to suggest that the author is a passive observer, far from it. She is very much in command of her own destiny, amply demonstrated by the circumstances surrounding her decision to embark on this two-year journey or her handling of a major crash early in the trip, the treatment and rehabilitation for her resultant broken leg and the challenge of getting back on road as soon as possible.

Butterflies, literal and symbolic, flutter in and out of the densely packed, but very readable narrative, in a way that never sounds forced and is always serendipitous. The same is true of the friends and fellow travellers she encounters, criss-crossing the same paths or in their homes. If you’re familiar with the content of Overland Magazine, or have attended the Overland Event in recent years, you’ll probably recognise many of the riders who play a part in this story – the world is indeed a small place, the more so for the expansion of independent travel and the Internet. ‘The Butterfly Route’ is an accomplished example of contemporary moto-travel writing.

Nich Brown

ISBN: 978-0-9967911-13
307 pages $19.95
Gumbo Lilly Press (2017)