Life on bikesReviews

Book Review: Hit The Road Jaq! – Seven years, twenty countries, no plan.

When Jacqui Furneaux hit 50, she had an idea – travel to India, buy an Enfield and ride around a bit. Twenty countries later, she had another idea: write a bit about it. Both were a great idea.

It’s easy to assume solo round the world bikers are loners, people who find it hard to strike up relationships and as such are saddled with their own company instead of spending quality time with mates. That’s why they head off on their own.

In fact, I’ve noticed there is a recurring theme in travel motorcycle writing. It seems it’s almost impossible to go more than a couple of hundred miles without striking up a new relationship.

You don’t need to go further than a couple of chapters into Hit The Road Jaq! to realise that making new friends is either something Jacqui Furneaux is very good at or that there are so many opportunities to meet new people that by default she can’t help making new friends wherever she goes.

Example: Pulling into a New Zealand pub to escape the rain and warm up over a coffee she is invited to stay for three days as a guest of the family that owns it.

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A number of these friendships turn out to be significant and in many ways Hit The Road Jaq! is a number of love stories. Two with men she meets on her journey, one with her 500cc Enfield Bullet motorbike and one with the trip itself.

Sometimes novelesque in telling the journey’s story, this book is beyond being a simple adventure diary and it beautifully captures the romance of being on the road.

Furneaux’s journey is truly adventurous, with no set plan in mind. She wild camps regularly and is prone to going ‘off-piste’ whenever the mood takes her. Despite this, she is rarely vulnerable, even during those times when she is travelling alone. This is no mean feat considering the number of countries she visits, including some of the most challenging parts of SouthEast Asia and South America. For anyone considering even a moderate journey through these areas, this book is a true inspiration.

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Furneaux is obviously likeable and she writes well, with a great deal of honesty. She thinks nothing of telling us about the time she takes cocaine in Columbia, comparing the experience to being no more remarkable than eating curry in India or smoking a cigar in Havana. But then she gives the game away by being secretly pleased with herself for staying up all night until six in the morning despite being in her 50’s.

Unlike other Travel writers she doesn’t strive to capture a location or atmosphere, it just naturally falls from the prose as she describes her adventures. This is no mean feat and proof, if any were needed, that she is a very natural writer. So readable, in fact, that by the end you are willing her to take another journey so that you can keep up the Great Adventure. A trip which, by some weird osmosis, you take along with her as one of her travelling companions.

Get yourself sorted:

Hit The Raod Jaq! Seven years, twenty countries, no plan by Jacqui Furneaux is available from Amazon:

Apologies to our own ‘solo’ traveller Dutchie, who I promised to send Hit THe Road Jaq! to after reading as it so beautifully captures making new friendships on the highways of the world. Now I’ve written up the review I’ll pop it in the post, mate.

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The Author

Ian Malone

Ian Malone

Ian is the Editor and a co-founder of Biker & Bike.

He is obsessed about bikes to the point that he often starts conversations with new people by saying, "Please don't get me onto the subject of bikes. We'll be here all day."

Inevitably, the next question asked is nearly always, "What bike have you got, then?"

He owns five bikes right now:

'78 Kawasaki Z650
'97 Triumph Daytona 955i
'02 Suzuki SV650s
'09 Yamaha R1
'88 Suzuki TS125X

At any one time, only two of these bikes are ever working, as you can read about on our blog.