Finding inspiration for the adventure traveler
I was deep into the Wakhan Corridor, threading the needle along the border of Afghanistan and Tajikistan, emotions ranging from wonder to trepidation. Elementally, I was anomalous in that foreign land, and that was when we encountered a small team of adventure riders coming from the other direction. I could see his sense of relief, the start of a smile, eyes squinted within the dusty and scratched helmet. While I was driving a 4wd and he was riding a BMW Dakar, the bond was immediate. We spent several hours discussing the route he had completed (which included drowning his BMW in a washed-out road crossing) and we advised of the swollen rivers and detours on our route. We had similar goals, both spurned and inspired by the travels of others that had come before. We all need that inspiration, a guide, or some small insight that will spark the will to dust off the passport and step into that blank spot in our experience.
For many, our first inspiration comes from a guidebook, much like the one sitting on my desk, a 256-page volume called: The World’s Great Adventure Motorcycling Routes. While I can understand Robert Wicks perspective in making it appear motorcycle specific, this book is an excellent resource for any overlander, on two or four wheels. The layout is organized and the readability benefits from a wide range of contributors, from Kevin and Julia Sanders talking about Trans Americas (and other regions) to Walter Colebatch reviewing treks in Siberia. Robert does an excellent job curating this content from highly experienced travelers, all making the volume easy to read and reference.
The interesting perspective for me, was that I have ridden or driven the majority of these routes, so it is too easy for me to be overly critical of the various recommendations, but I realized that it is just the nature of travel and travelers- we all have our own opinions. My first trip to Siberia was just ‘ok’, while my second was fantastic, mostly because of the people we met and our experience on the Road of Bones. For the most part, details and recommendations are accurate and reasonable, although I found the following odd and possibly a typo: "Top Tips for a Great African Adventure, tip #1- Travel Alone." Really? While I certainly don’t have an issue with experienced travelers going at it solo, I would hardly recommend it as the top tip for a great African adventure. The same author also advises not to camp. While we all have our own personal preferences, to make two of your seven tips to travel alone and not to camp seems out of place. Joe Pichler’s contributions on the Sahara and Northern Africa are nice reads and are accompanied by good photographs. We know from our efforts with Overland Journal that a great motorcycle story with great photography is a difficult find. Walter’s content on Siberia is nothing short of awe inspiring, that guy understands adventure.
Overall, the book does a nice job of balancing inspirational continental routes with shorter country specific adventures. Noteworthy examples are good coverage of the Trans-America Trail and Iceland, both of which were wonderful adventures for me too. I recommend the book for several reasons, primary of which is it being a single source of solid inspiration, allowing the reader to review and contemplate the entire globe in one volume. I also believe it is critical to support authors like Robert that have consistently delivered well-written and artfully designed books about the subject we love. The last two pages are filled with photographs from adventures around the world. Although I have experienced many of those places, the collage was no less enjoyable, combining memories of adventures past with new ideas for the next road to travel.
The World's Great Adventure Motorcycle Routes, The essential guide to the greatest motorcycle rides in the world
By Robert Wicks
ISBN: 978 1 84425 945 8
Available from Touratech for $45