Review: Low Rider – To Israel on a 70’s Triumph hardtail
Handily, seeing as we are in the middle of our ‘You don’t need an adventure bike to go on an adventure,’ season, a copy of Low Rider, by Ian Mutch, has landed in the office. It turns out it’s the perfect short trip read.
I was barely through the first page of Low Rider when I felt compelled to ping the author an email.
I’d met him a few times so didn’t feel it was that rude to steam straight in with, “Who the hell decides to ride all the way to the Middle East on a 70’s hardtail Triumph?!” I wrote.
“Yeah… That would be me,” came the succinct reply.
The lightness of the response is fitting. The book is slim too, digestible in a couple of easy sittings and a surprising relief from the usual country-by-country fare that sometimes does bang on a bit.
The flip side of this speed read is that you are left wanting more of the rapid-fire vignettes. Such as the time, half-pissed on wine and hard-tail induced back pain, Mutch starts a conversation with an Alpine goat.
Contrary to its pocket-friendly size, Low Rider packs in quite a few tales. Standout stories aside from the incident with the goat include Mutch finding himself on the wrong end of a counter-terrorism machine gun and accidentally staying in a whorehouse.
The book is very much a product of the time of the trip. Mutch spends much (couldn’t resist it) of his time travelling through Soviet-era Eastern Europe. It has to be said, if communist Yugoslavia could offer the traveller a hearty meal, umpteen beers and a hotel room for less than an English fiver then, in some selfish respects, it’s a pity the Iron Curtain had to come down.
As well as inducing nostalgia for cheaper times, Low Rider is worth reading simply to realise how much better, more reliable, more comfortable and well, better, today’s bikes are. Frankly, the author had a daily, sometimes hourly nightmare of funny sounds and nasty clonks that would drive today’s rider round the bend.
Riding an appallingly unreliable pre-Boor Triumph all the way to Israel is brave, certainly and unwise, possibly. But by the end of the book you almost – almost – want to do it yourself. Well, perhaps on a decent bike and hopefully with some less stressful encounters along the way.
If a travel book is meant to inspire you to ride a trip of your own, Low Rider should get you fired up. Unlike the Triumph once or twice.
Low Rider is available in paperback and for the Kindle, on Amazon.