‘Notes from the Road, vol 3’ by Derek Mansfield

Derek Mansfield could never be called a conventional character. Perhaps then, it’s not surprising that his books aren’t either. There’s the nomenclature for a start. His latest release ‘Notes from the Road volume 3’ is in fact his second in the series, following on from the success of his first, which was of course called ‘volume 4’…

The writing style in this 2017 publication is marginally more conventional in its form, but still sees occasional forays into streams of consciousness. Diversions into personal anecdote, which reveal some of the complexities of the author and his exceptionally colourful earlier life, make this travelogue really stand out and help the reader ‘place’ someone who seems to make personal connectivity his business, with or without common language.

In essence the reader rides with him from London to Mongolia, aboard a Moto Guzzi Stelvio. He’s a marathon rider, prepared to put in huge miles when needs be, but it’s the social interaction that really makes this book. He eschews camping and cheap motels when he can, in favour of pre-arranged couch-surfing bookings and in truth it’s these socio-cultural experiences which provide the engagement and the page-turning intrigue. What exactly will he discover and what will lie behind the next nondescript apartment door in a grey, soul-less Soviet concrete block?

‘Notes from the Road Vol 3’ could never be called ‘just another motorcycle travel book’. It’s not as marmite as volume 4, but it will definitely challenge, inform and entertain. Ride with him again into the former USSR.

Paddy Tyson

Paperback 370pp incl 32pp colour images (£11.99)
Published by Hombre Press (2017)