The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing: Long-Distance Motorcycling's Endless Road

Melissa Holbrook Pierson, Author
Melissa Holbrook Pierson. Norton, $24.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-393-07904-3
Reviewed on: 07/25/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-0-393-08326-2
Paperback - 191 pages - 978-0-393-34412-7
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Pierson's (The Perfect Vehicle) marvelously engaging account of her resumption of long-distance motorcycling after years of hiatus proves pure pleasure for the aficionado. A divorce (from writer Luc Sante), along with persistent goading by a new acquaintance, a revered member of the elite Iron Butt Association (IBA), John Ryan, prompted this 50-something former rider to consider getting back on the bike,. Ryan sponsored Pierson's initiation— the grueling SaddleSore, a 1,000-mile journey from Erie, Pa., to Spartanburg, S.C., in under 24 hours. He acted as her "portable witness,” showing her the ropes, such as refueling in four-minutes tops and eating while "on the slab.” Pierson infiltrates this select, loyal group of long-distance riders, like those determined numbers who join the periodic Iron Butt Rally, the 11-day, 11,000-mile trek that crisscrosses the American continent (including Alaska), and during which the riders gain bonus points the more remote their GPS tracking. Long-distance trips are punishing ("this near to hellfire”), requiring superhuman reserves of self-discipline, stamina, and sleep deprivation, and Pierson continually marvels at why people like Ryan do it. Her stately, lyrical prose, profound respect for the machinery, and sympathy for the extreme adventurers will transport even the most unlikely readers. (Oct.)
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