Log of the Good Cycle ‘Vagabond’ by Stan Spicer

If only I’d found a review of this book before buying it… Described as a ‘facsimile copy of the travel log of the 1947 motorcycle trip of Stan Spicer’ I had let my prejudices get ahead of me and presumed it would contain some historical interest, some motorcycling or even some travel writing. The facsimile bit didn’t concern me as there are many books coming back into print as scans of original publications and if manuscripts have been lost that does at least get travel narratives back in the public domain. However, at 40 pages this is not a thick book and it will take you about 30 minutes to read, should you manage to get past the first handful of pages and stick at it.

But I must put this in context. The author Stan Spicer, who died in 1999, may well be unaware that his writing is in print as his daughter Denise has chosen to publish what really is his ‘daily log’ of a one-month ride down the western United States; every meal eaten – breakfast, lunch and dinner – every arrival and departure time. But there is no extrapolation on people met, or things seen. No action, excitement or sentiment.

Leaving Washington State, ‘Spicer’ and his friend ‘Jones’ rode their Harleys down to San Diego and across to Arizona, even popping in to Mexico for a couple of days, yet the only thing of note was that the food was cheaper! There is no attempt at comment, no discussion of the geographical or social, other than occasional mention of the heat. He did hunt out cycle shops on a regular basis to attend to the needs of the Harley, but again, no detail is provided for the reader.

I understand the familial desire to celebrate a loved one’s achievement, and riding down the US in 1947 was no mean feat, but this log could never be called a travel book.
Paddy Tyson

ISBN: 978-153338-40-89
40 pages £4.50
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing (March 2017)