This is an unusual book, part memoir charting the development of the author’s life in motorcycling and part homage to one of his contemporaries – the late Simon Milward (1965-2005). The book is written from the author’s personal perspective, but the events and dialogue ring true throughout. Sometimes they rode in each other’s tyre-tracks, sometimes diverging or in parallel. Each of them became campaigners for motorcycling in the political realm, each rode tens of thousands of miles in pursuit of their goals and each rode further still exploring the world by bike and trying to make somethings better in the world by engaging the unique capabilities of a motorcycle in the right hands.
Craig Carey-Clinch has an ability to get under the skin of events and, I suspect, this book may get under the skin of others who will take issue with his account of some of the events in the riders’ rights movement during the 1990’s. That is an inevitable consequence of first person narratives about actual events.
For all that, this is very much a travel book, one that moves a pace and displays clear descriptive talent. You might be expecting this to be a dry and featureless text, sprinkled with technical and political arguments so Byzantine as to make sticking pins in your eyes an appealing alternative. Instead, you will find something far more readable, both in style and substance.
The experiences described are those of travelling extensively in Europe and northern Africa, but by reflecting on the purpose for those journeys the author has added breadth to the narrative depth and length of those journeys. The book is divided in to four parts, with stories spanning 17-years from 1991. Although the spirit of Simon pervades the whole piece, it is the first part of the book that charts the developing relationship between the main characters and we meet a third rider integral to the story, one David French (who, as another character in the storyline never tires of pointing-out, is Irish).
The cast of characters is supplemented by other travelling companions and people encountered along the way. As with time spent on the road in unfamiliar places, there are good times and bad, moments of pomposity and vulnerability and circumstances that are variously comedic, tragic or banal but nonetheless entertaining. It’s a story waiting to be discovered (and is available here)
Paperback 351pp 2x8pp colour photo inserts
Published by Shuvvy Press (2015)