‘Slow Rider’ by Jill Maden

This book is subtitled ‘Australia on a Postie Bike and a 125cc Motorbike’ and is exactly that. The author spends time in Oz in 2014, initially doing a 110cc Postie Bike Challenge from Brisbane to Adelaide using the famous Birdsville Track with a number of other riders, and then buying a brand new 125cc Honda for her wholly tarmac assault on Darwin, via Perth and the west coast.
The first bit of the story is certainly daring as the Birdsville is quite a challenge, especially with no off-road experience and on a machine so small. There are accidents and sadly there are deaths within the group. Maden does manage to paint some very clear pictures of the whole experience for the reader, especially the barren landscape and the heat, but it’s spoilt by the volume of backstory and exactly why life in Scotland drove her back ‘Down Under’.
There is an obvious narrative end in sight though and it’s clear that this short expedition is a prelude to the longer solo trip, so it works reasonably well.
Some relationships are established with Australian fellow ‘Challenge’ riders which ensures some continuity of script in the second half of the book as the author arranges to meet them later. But that, and references to previous Australian visits, just isn’t enough to really hold it all together.
Throughout, I was left waiting for something to happen. There was the slight chance that a fledgling romance could blossom and there were plenty of dips into Wikipedia, but this could only be called a page-turner in-as-much you’re convinced something really engaging was bound to happen soon and you turn to look for it. It never really does. There are complaints aplenty about suffering in the cold and how the wind affected the 125, but I couldn’t warm to the author and instead repeatedly found myself thinking ‘oh for god’s sake why didn’t you just get a 250 then, and learn how to adjust your chain!’
It is well written and perfectly proofed and does describe parts of Western Australia well, but becomes almost as much of a chore to read as it clearly was to cross the mighty Nullabor on such a small bike.

ISBN: 978-1517-2340-58
315 pages (£8.99)
Published by Create Space (2015)