‘Is that bike diesel, mate?’ by Paul Carter

Is that bike diesel mateThis is an interesting book inasmuch as it isn’t really an adventure motorcycle title. It contains all the ingredients; a motorcycle, a continent and the circumnavigation of one by the other, but that’s where the association ends.

Paul rides a Cagiva-framed, bio-diesel powered, slow and vibratory contraption around Australia, to see the country he calls home and to demonstrate, with the help of the University of Adelaide, that it can be done. There’s a support truck (driven by willing volunteer friends) a cameraman and the consumption of a lot of beer. There’s also 128 pages dedicated to introducing the idea, Paul’s family and his personal history, before the trip begins. That’s out of a total page count of 266.

But what of the text and story? It jogs along nicely with plenty of dialogue and is professionally proofed which is refreshing. There are breakdowns, incidents with cockroaches and even an accident that all add to the excitement and it is reasonably well written, but I find myself agreeing with the widely attributed “Profanity is the result of a weak mind trying to express itself forcibly.” Frankly, the swearing is wearing. Annoyingly, there seems to be a good writer buried in here and some of the prose is really engaging.

He tries hard to make it a lad’s book, though continually references how he misses his wife and daughter. He may well, as travellers often do, but in this instance it doesn’t add to the story or raise the literary standard. This was a three month, 14,500kms trip and he wasn’t without family throughout. As you may glean, it’s a little grating.

There are plenty of jokes and if you haven’t already seen them coming or become bored of the weak metaphor, you may well be entertained. The petrolhead will find more of interest within these pages than the traveller and if the development of alternative fuels intrigues you, this might be one for your bookshelf.

Paddy Tyson

ISBN 978-1-85788-562-0

Paperback 266pp, £9.99

18 images on 8pp colour insert.

Nicholas Brealey Publishing 2011