It’s all very well doing a massive tour and writing about it. At the end of the day, most travel stories are essentially ‘what I did on my holidays’ but to capture a reader you need to go little deeper.
Thankfully Stephen E. Holmes – a former punk and scooterboy who started riding on a Lambretta SX200 – and his former punk band oppo Pete Sandford had a mission. Pete had been inspired by The Motorcycle Diaries – the film about Che Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado’s trip to the top of South America.
Back in 1952 Che and Alberto set out to cross the continent to reach Venezuela on a 500cc Norton. Their bike broke down on the way so they hitched to complete the trip. Pete’s concept was to do the same trip, on the same capacity of vintage Norton, but this time to complete the journey by bike.
In the end both Stephen and Pete buy ancient, leaky Nortons for the journey and set out from Argentina to follow a route through pampas, mountains, deserts and rainforests which defeated the two revolutionaries even when their Norton was nearly new.
Stephen writes the tale from the perspective of the mechanical numpty of the duo, but ever the willing party-boy despite being 50 years young at the time. You can’t hold an old scooterboy down. Pete though is a savvy mechanic and performs enough bodges to get them through, not least of all holding his pre-unit gearbox in place with hammered-in wooden wedges.
Without spoiling the story, there are at least two occasions where they rode the fine line between carefree and reckless and between life and death.
Stephen’s writing has pace and is full of liberal use of similes to describe the intoxicating and varied sights, smells and sounds of Latin America. He is refreshingly honest about his fears and emotions without ‘bigging-up’ their problems. All this makes for a rollicking Boy’s Own adventure, at least for older boys who haven’t entirely grown up.
Well worth a read, recommended.
You can buy it here and visit Steve's FB page for the book here.