‘One Man on a Bike’ by Richard Georgiou

This book isn’t about a marathon journey that takes years to complete. Rather it covers a ride of four weeks from the South of England to the sand dunes of South-west Morocco. Chapters are almost written as diary entries, but the tenses sometimes slip which means some of the immediacy of that style is lost.

This is one man (with a slavish addiction to GPS), one bike (a Honda Transalp), and a host of electronic gadgetry which frequently doesn’t work as planned but which absorbs an inordinate amount of his attention. I realise that it’s a trip that could be an exciting challenge for many, but the author travels in a manner that I find hard to warm to. He may have an associate membership with Ibis Hotels, which could explain why he seems to seek the familiar as often as he can. And yes, there is a sense of security that comes from using toll roads. However interactions with locals, which are generally the essence of travel writing, don’t figure nearly highly enough in the text, unlike smoking cigarettes, which is discussed on every page.

The way Georgiou chooses to travel is one reason for this absence of local interaction course, but I feel it may be an editing choice too, because the last chapter throws open an insightful door and is perhaps the best bit. It’s not because the epilogue is some judgement-laden moralising that happens to chime with me, but because it’s where he describes in some depth a meeting he has with a young lad on a donkey and cart which clearly has a profound effect on him. And yet it’s an incident that’s not in the main text! How many more beautiful moments like this did he experience and yet choose not to include? Maybe none, but that’s all the more reason why this interaction should have figured.

The whole trip had a great impact on him (as all trips do to everyone) which is a wonderful thing, but pushing personal boundaries alone does not make a book. It’s certainly handy as a diary for friends, but it’s also a demonstration of what can be achieved through the democratisation of publishing technology.

ISBN: 978-1506124-766
Paperback 143pp (£4.99)
Published by author (2015)