Tales from the Road by Writers Who Ride
Motorcycle Messengers is a collection of travel stories from some of the leading writers in genre… plus a few people you’ve never heard of. Consider it a sample pack of authors. Stuff a copy into your saddlebag, read a story by the fire, and discover your new favourite motorcycle travel writer.
Lois Pryce – exploits her dead grandmother and an imaginary husband to access the congo.
Foreword by Ted Simon
I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about a collection of stories by bikers. After all, the foundation that bears my name is dedicated to encouraging exactly this kind of thing—and yet I recognize that for many readers, there is something odd about the expectation that motorcyclists would produce literature. That was the main reason why Pirsig’s book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance created such a sensation. The juxtaposition of bikes and philosophy was bizarre enough to titillate ordinary readers (by “ordinary,” I naturally mean non-riders) who would normally never touch a bike with a dipstick. Fortunately, the book was good enough to sustain their interest. Of course it was more—much more—about philosophy than biking, just as my own books are much more about travel than motorcycles. Indeed, most of the stories in this collection have more to do with the world around the rider than the machine he rides. So what is the justification for putting them all together in one volume?
It’s not just a gimmick.
I maintain that people who use a motorcycle to travel have a sharper, truer view of everything around them. It’s a necessity for survival. The need to be always alert, always ready to deal with some unexpected contingency, greatly enhances the perception or, as Dr. Johnson put it in a different context, it concentrates the mind wonderfully. What would be an inconvenient and expensive accident in a car can be fatal on a bike. Precisely because they are so vulnerable and dependent on their environment, riders are better equipped to cross over cultural divides.
Unlike their four-wheeled brethren who are protected and separated from the world in their steel cages, motorcyclists are visible human beings and, especially in remote areas where motorcycles are not so common, they engender curiosity and sympathy. Wise riders take advantage of this; they travel slowly, stop to ask for directions, to talk, to drink a cup of tea, to find out what’s going on, and accept invitations. Generally, they have a much broader experience of the warmth and generosity that still, thank heavens, persist among people of all kinds everywhere. This is the message they carry with them, from host to host, from country to country, and eventually back home. There is abundant evidence of that in these stories.
Neil Peart – finds his rhythm through the curves of North Carolina.
Paddy Tyson – numbs his fear of crocodiles with a few drinks in Australia.