200,000 miles and 55 countries in 8 years - one man's biking adventure in four books.
Sam Manicom’s story is an extraordinary one.
Working hard and long hours as a shop manager on Jersey, he found himself dissatisfied and yearning. With fears of retail recession casting a shadow and personal restlessness nipping at his heels, Manicom searched for something to appease his inner sense of adventure.
He learned to ride a motorbike. Within three months, his first journey, from the top of Africa to the bottom, had begun. By the time he had reached the southern tip of Africa, he had been arrested, jailed, shot at, knocked unconscious in the Namibian desert, escaped a bush fire and climbed a mountain. Needless to say, he was hooked. What followed are described in the four books Manicom has written to date, ‘Into Africa’ (detailing his first trip across the African continent), ‘Under Asian Skies’ (from Australia through Asia), ‘Distant Suns’ (back to Africa and South America) and ‘Tortilla’s to Totems’ (from Mexico to Canada), a 200,000 mile, 8 year journey across 55 different countries.
Comparisons with Ted Simon’s seminal ‘Jupiter’s Travels’ are somewhat inevitable, but Manicom’s work does not suffer in the least by comparison to his illustrious forebear. He writes engagingly, and in the classic style of the travel writer, with a marked ability to draw out the salient features of a scene and place them center-stage. The deep red of the African earth glows under Manicom’s pen.
There are a great many lessons that can be taken from Manicom’s story, but the most heartening for us all is that to be a motorcycle traveller, you do not need to be an experienced rider. All it takes is a bike and a desire for something out of the ordinary. Manicom emphasizes that you can do what he did, that the life experiences he has had are not the preserve of the wealthy, or those with specialist skills. If you have the will, and are able to step from your comfort zone, the world that awaits you can be enjoyed uniquely on a bike. It is clear from his story that this is a life to which he is hopelessly addicted.
The books, one can sense, would be utterly different had he chosen to undertake his journey in a car, or by some other means. Short of actually walking from Egypt to South Africa, for example, it is hard to imagine a more vivid and enlivening way to experience the sights, sounds and colours of the extraordinary places he has been. Reading Manicom’s story, it leads you to hope that his journey can inspire others to see their bikes in the same way - as the key to a different way of being.
All four books by Sam Manicom are available from http://www.sam-manicom.com
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