This review is by Jamie Elvidge at ADVPulse. Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.
‘In these relentlessly stressful times some type of a break or escape is essential, if not required, in order to create balance. If that escape involves motorcycle travel, all the better. But for those days when the handlebar is out of reach, there’s Sam Manicom’s new book, The Moment Collectors, to take you to distant lands, where you’re invited to vicariously live some of the most powerful moments experienced by 20 overland motorcycle travelers. The adventures are described in short story format, each rich in detail and emblazoned with the travelers’ unique style.
You’ve undoubtedly heard of some of these riders before, famous overlanders like Simon and Lisa Thomas, who’ve been traveling the world on two wheels for 16 years now, covering more than 500,000 miles on six continents. “They’ve survived a broken neck and malaria in the Amazon, being shot at in Russia, traversing 36 deserts, and threatened with expulsion, having been wrongfully accused of kidnapping a president’s son,” reads just a portion of their bio in The Moment Collectors.
In the story “The Rough Side of the Silk Road,” Simon takes us along on the couple’s bone-chilling, life-defining ride over the fabled Pamir Mountains in Central Asia. He writes of the adventure with such eloquence and detail, you might want a fuzzy blanket nearby to ward off the perception of biting cold so perfectly conjured by this tale.
Other stories are told no less persuasively by overlanders newer to the lifestyle, such as in “A Return to Sinai” where Brit EmmaLucy Cole’s spellbinding descriptions of time spent living with a Bedouin tribe on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula have little to do with riding. That is, until years later when she’s inspired by Steph Jeavons to get her motorcycle license, and returns “home” to Sinai where she rents a small bike and takes her first real ride.
There’s humor: “By nightfall, we were in Chihuahua, home of dogs so ugly they are best suited as guide dogs for the blind,” says Geoff Hill in “Far from Home,” a story that highlights the vacillating highs and lows of overlanding, and how “travel makes the ordinary seem extraordinary,” when he’s nearly brought to tears by the sight of a Walmart after months of riding in Central and South America.
Not to mention the hilariously dry journaling of Graham Field, in “Finding the Rhythm of the Road,” where he finds the definition of overland moto travel revealed by an impromptu dip in a river. “I’m not sure how adventurous it is, but this is something you wouldn’t do on your commute from work. Stopping by a river and having a wash, then spinning out in the sand and standing on the pegs, up the track back to the road. That’s what you do when you go away on your bike.”
My favorite of the stories was the first, “The Unthinkable Happens,” by Claire Elsdon about an experience she had riding through Sudan on her Suzuki DR-Z 400. Her writing immediately grabs you and holds fast, taking you on a ride where all of the things you might imagine happening in one of the world’s most demonized countries, does. “With that he pushed open the passenger side door, as if what had been holding me back until then had been the burden of opening it.”
Much like traveling through different countries on motorcycles, the stories in this satisfying book each has a flavor and writing style all its own. Enjoying some stories more than others also mirrors travel. Your favorite stories may differ greatly from mine, but I guarantee there will be favorites. Plus, when you do land on an author who really speaks to you, Manicom has done the favor of including details on where to find more of their work at the end of their chapter.
While it took me just a few days to drink in The Moment Collectors 459 pages, I would have preferred to string the 20 stories out over weeks, indulging in one at a time, letting each sink in like a salve. Also, if you’re on the fence about hitting the road, prepare for a spurring. These stories had me chomping at the proverbial bit for an international ride.’
If this has inspired you to buy a copy of ‘The Moment Collectors‘ either for yourself or as a gift, you can buy direct from us, from Amazon where you are, or from The Book Depository with free worldwide delivery. We very much hope you enjoy.