There are some books that enter folklore; journeys that were so extreme, or done on such an incredibly small budget, that they beggar belief. Almost by osmosis you think you know the story. This is one of those famous tales, not least because Argentinean Emilio Scotto did this global trip on his very first bike, a GL1100 Goldwing. Nearly 500,000 miles over ten years on every imaginable surface (OK, Honda Spain fitted a new engine for him after he’d ridden a quarter of a million miles) is quite something on an over-weight interstate cruiser.
I’d heard about it many times but had never actually read the book for myself – just like everyone else I’d asked directly. What a shame it took me so long to get round to it.
It starts with what is, without doubt, the best opening chapter in adventure motorcycling and proceeds to astound. From the vagaries of the international money markets that enabled him to get the bike in the first place, to cadging a lift across the Atlantic in a cargo plane, or being blessed by the Pope, you could read this and maintain a sense of disbelief throughout. It really is like a ‘raiders of the ark’ adventure and moves apace.
It’s the story of perseverance and of immense courage. Scotto has an openess to the kindness of strangers which enables him to take a chance that almost always works out. I say almost. Then there’re all the things that definitely don’t work out.
If you’re unfamiliar with this publication you may initially mistake it for a picture book, and the back half is certainly image-heavy, but the text really is immensely gratifying to read. Available as a paperback (which is only marginally smaller than the magazine you are holding), you really should indulge.
224pp, colour images throughout (£16.99)
Published by Motorbooks (2007)