Monday, February 18, 2013

Book Review: Trans-Africa by Motorcycle: A Father's Diary

Trans-Africa by Motorcycle
Embarking on any extended overland adventure can be quite daunting... opting to do so with your 17year son adds that extra layer of anxiety.  Opting to use a 16year old 1981 Yamaha XT 500 to do the trip on, makes for one major adventure.

"Trans-Africa by Motorcycle: A Father's Diary" is the story of Lawrence & Gareth Bransby and their overland adventure from South Africa to the United Kingdom.

Overland routes varied considerably in the mid 1990's compared to what we have these days.  Central Africa was an option to transit from West to East, along with the option of shipping from Eritrea to the Middle East and heading North into Europe.  Lawrence and Gareth opted for the latter route.

Lawrence & Gareth Bransby
An extract from the introduction:
We opted for Yamaha XT 500's, 1981 models which we bought cheaply and which are renowned for their robustness and simplicity of design. They have points and coil ignition, easy to repair along the side of the road, easy to find spares for. The engine has about 5 moving parts, the gearbox said to be so over-engineered it could be used to drive a tractor...
We couldn't afford expensive aluminum panniers so made one from galvanised sheeting. We constructed carriers from angle iron for the jerry cans, water bottles and thousand and one other things necessary for the trip. 

The book is well written and is a must read for any parent wanting to take a child on an extended overland journey.  The author writes about the stress of being a father and the responsibility it has whilst traveling overland. His thoughts and emotions are captured vividly that it transports you back to that moment. The author wrote his diary daily and as a result captured the emotions of the travel. Writing a blog daily whilst traveling has benefits as the author sums up why perfectly with this sentence:
What is interesting writing this diary day by day is that it reflects my mood swings with the immediacy of the moment, which an account of the trip in retrospect would miss.

Lawrence & Gareth Bransby
A few quotes from the book.  Page references listed below.
While riding during the morning, I felt a distinct sense of deja vu. Exploring this feeling I realised that I was experiencing, just then and in the flesh, my many hours of dream before the trip started. Always, before, in my mind's eye, I would see myself astride a bike with purring engine, a load at my back, the green bush of Africa passing on either side, a narrow straight road into the distance and dark skies with towering clouds ahead. And I was doing it! I was actually doing it! My dream has become reality and it feels SO good!
One of my favourite sentences and one this is so true...
Without a doubt there is a bond that links motor-cyclists in any part of the world regardless of race, language or social status.
After a long tough day in the saddle...
Sometimes it is lonely riding within the vacuum of one’s helmet on the bike...
In summary, I found this a very entertaining read especially the aspect of father / son relationships and the impact of overland travel. You will enjoy this book if you enjoy reading overland travel blogs rather than travel guides.  Buy a copy, sit back, and go along for a ride.  It will inspire you.

You can buy the book via Amazon UK:

 Quote References: 
- Highlight Loc. 581-84
- Highlight Loc. 943-44
- Highlight Loc. 1098-99
- Highlight Loc. 1421-22

Additional Reading: