At 324 pages, this book is just about right and feels neither longwinded nor the writing rushed. It reflects the author’s focus on culture and geography, rather than simply places as attained points on a map.
I read a digital pre-print edition without photographs, but then saw some of the images online and could immediately relate to them. The actual hard copy has a number of well reproduced B&W pictures peppered throughout and eight pages of colour images. The cover appears to have been well considered, giving a real taste for the book within.
With guidance from experienced travel writers and editors and the inspiration of the Ted Simon Foundation, Dom’s experiences have been portrayed well. I’m pleased to say that it’s by no means just another book about a bloke of a certain age taking off on a BMW 1200 GS (in this instance one called Heidi). Dom’s writing is packed with nuggets of information and contains the real essence of travel writing.
Before, during and after his foray into motorcycle travel, Dom struggles to answer the enquiry he encounters again and again – ‘Why travel?’ He comes to the simple realisation that the real question, and indeed the answer, is ‘Why not?’ He knows he is fortunate to be able to travel, and has a refreshing awareness of the bigger global picture. Through the pages of ‘Gone Riding’ he’s able to share this with the reader.
We get some historical background – Dom is after all a history teacher – but it never feels patronising, out of place, or a burden to read. At times he is guilty of a little too much self-deprecation, (but perhaps he’s right regarding his mechanical ineptitude) though humility is generally preferable to arrogance.
I was initially a little apprehensive as the trip starts in Alaska, that there would be the homogeneity of so many books of this ilk that follow the well-worn route south. However Dom’s interpretation gives a fresh take on places that are so often described. His accounts of his periods volunteering on worthy projects add an extra dimension, giving us snapshots of the sorts of involvement that is available to the traveller who wants to immerse themselves.
His supportive wife Tracy joined him for part of his trip, giving the reader the opportunity to see the potential of riding as a couple and travelling alone. In Africa we get to explore the dynamics of group riding when he teams up with other adventure bike travellers and the highs and lows are honestly portrayed.
The Americas were a great way to prepare him for a trip of two halves, but his account of travelling north from Cape Town to Nairobi is inspiring and informative – ‘normal’ people can do this!
It really makes me want to see for myself, which is just what a good book should. Get your copy here.
324 pp paperback £13.95
Published by Pen Press
I am delighted to say that Overland Magazine (stand 2G31 at the ‘2013 Motorcycle Live’ Bike show), hosts the global book launch of ‘Gone Riding’. Dom will be with us on Saturday the 23rd November so you can get your copy and chat to the man himself.