‘When the Road Ends’ by Dylan Samarawickrama

When the road endsQuite probably book of the year. This is a beautifully written account of a GS-mounted global odyssey which barely mentions any of the route. Instead, it focusses on the author’s somewhat unconventional assault on the Darien Gap, that impenetrable section of the Americas between Colombia and Panama.

The number of motorcyclists who have successfully crossed these few hundred kilometres of jungle and swamp is now into double figures, but only Dylan has taken the time to machine a new shaft drive for his BMW so that it can carry a propeller, and then mount his whole bike upon a raft made of ten oil drums and some bamboo, before heading out into the Pacific to try his luck against the massive seas and strong currents.

It’s proper adventure and will, I’m sure, become a film: Failed engine components see him drifting for days towards the Galapagos; complete strangers help in ways unimaginable; Police assist his clandestine border crossings; international boat thieves make the raft adventure possible; locals welding fuel tanks almost don’t…

As the title suggests, everything hinges on what happens ‘when the road ends’, yet Dylan seamlessly interweaves other random parts of his global trip. There’s nothing linear about this read and it’s all the better for it. The raw adventure and ‘can-do’ attitude reminds me of Danny Liska back in the very early 60s and I absolutely love it for the whole reading experience.

Physically the hard-backed item is a delight to hold; the production values superb. It has a dust jacket, excellent layout and design, some lovely inner sleeve graphics and even has one of those fabric ‘bound bookmarks’.

If you care as much about reading as you do motorcycle travel, this will satisfy like few others.

ISBN: 978-3-9524448-5-6

Hard Back 311 pages assorted B&W images and maps throughout.

Published by Zuercher Publishing (December 2015) £20 (available here)

Dylan Samarawickrama comes ashore