Uneasy Rider: Travels Through a Mid-life Crisis (Paperback) by Mike Carter

Kindle version, I think, is here.

It was partly good reviews on the Amazon site (though I returned in early 2011 and found a great many very negative reviews) that made me buy this book and partly a holiday to Croatia in 2008 (one of the places visted by the author). The holiday and the travelling (sleeping on a bench at Gatwick on the night before the really early flight to to Split) turned out to be tedious, in fact a holiday from hell for a number of reasons I won’t go into so the book became a trusted and fond travel companion.

Others have said they laughed out loud at this book and I did too – at about 2am at Gatwick for example. I think the funniest parts are where the going is toughest – in Finland where we hear about the seductions of the Leprosy museum (or was that in Norway?) At first I was uneasy (to coin a phrase) at the mid-life stuff because it created one of those all-too-easy-to identify-with personas that in some ways can be unhelpful (like grumpy old men) but as we hear, near the end of the book, about another reason why the author visited some of these countries and some of these locations, I found myself very moved. I wouldn’t be suprised if many readers of this book have experienced some of the same life events as the author and can identify with the desire to revisit locations that have, to put it simply, bad memories.

I really recommend this book. It is intelligent and hugely funny in places and has redoubled my determination to take my bike to some (definately not all – Albania for instance) of the countries visited by Mike Carter. (2021 – I’m considering Albania and other Balkan countries…)

Many reviewers on Amazon call the author a big headed buffoon whose trip and bike was paid for by the Observer newspaper (how do they know that?). I don’t agree (well, I can’t comment about who paid for the trip because I don’t know). If you get into the zone of his self-deprecating but not entirely original humour, the book is really enjoyable. Some reviewers complain that he’s not ‘a proper biker’ which begs the question of when can you call someone riding a motorbike ‘a biker’. Some have suggested that he made up half or even all of it. I do doubt that but I must say I did wonder whether he embellished quite a few of the encounters he recounts. But the geography is real and I’ve used it as a reference for my upcoming trip around Norway – the highlight will be the trip to the Leprosy museum. I just hope its raining when I get there.

Finally, I wish the book had included a map of the journey.