Book of the year!: ‘The Long Ride Home’ by Nathan Millward

**Winner of the 2012 OVERLAND Motorcycle Travel Book of the Year**

The Long Ride Home encapsulates so much spirit, honesty, wit and mechanical ineptitude that it is simply a pleasure from start to finish. There is no heroism, but there’re plenty of home truths. There’s no preparation either and the bungling incompetence is endearing, but just occasionally really frustrating; mis-matched gloves, a pair of converse boots and only one sock at 5000m in the Himalayan snow. You have an urge to shake him.

It’s the story of a young Yorkshireman, in Sydney and in love, but running out of visa time and foregoing his return ticket in a 747.  Opting instead to throw what little possessions he has in a ludicrously over-sized metal box, he bolts it to the back of his daily 110cc commuter bike and sets off in a north westerly direction after two days preparation. He has a few thousand dollars and a credit card in his pocket. It’s neither bravery nor stupidity; it’s someone with a dream, determination and a willing and open personality, all of which comes through in the text. If you are completely in touch with your own feelings, you may even shed a tear or two near the end of the book.

Although only released in the UK last year, this book was originally published professionally in Australia under the title ‘Going Postal’ and the professionalism really shows as the script is almost entirely blemish free. I hate to use the phrase, but it really is a page turner.

I’m not generally a fan of black and white images peppered throughout a book though, as they rarely reproduce well and therefore add little to the total, but the saving grace here is the image composition. I was going to say that without them the page count would be a good deal less than the ??? that it is, but there are no page numbers in my copy, so I can’t!

South East Asia was a real eye-opener for Nathan, landing in East Timor not long after it had gained independence from Indonesia, the UN still much in evidence. As a taster of life outside the comfortable ‘West’ it was quite a baptism and he’s not afraid to expose his emotions and say the unthinkable of overland travel; that he was scared, awkward and ill-prepared for the emotional onslaught.

But to be honest his lack of preparation becomes a hallmark, his acceptance of strangers his forté. And his attitude to paperwork, personal safety and hygiene is really quite exceptional. The journey does become more of a race at the end as his goals shift and getting back to the UK takes on more significance. Problems in Kyrgystan create delays but also strong personal bonds and the last month on the road becomes a feat of endurance, but not for its own sake. His bike is as tired as he is and looking every bit as decrepit, even though it’s not actually the same machine he rode out of Sydney on, with Prime Ministerial blessing.

This is a book that’s well crafted, and that offers all of the entertainment you could want for eleven pounds. Nathan Millward’s ‘The Long Ride Home’ is probably the best adventure travel book you’ll read this year. Funny, perceptive, honest and entertaining, you can get a signed copy here and you won’t be disappointed.

It’s Sydney to London after two days preparation. It’s worth saying that again.

Review by Paddy Tyson

£10.99.  ISBN: 978 14716 33799

Published by Nathan and Dorothy

Lots of pages and B&W images…

**Winner of the 2012 OVERLAND Motorcycle Travel Book of the Year**