How I Met Mike Carter
IN DECEMBER 2012, I was lucky enough to meet Mike Carter in person. I was studying travel journalism at the London School of Journalism and he was one of the teachers. He was built like a guerilla and wore a thick, heavy duffle coat with a sheepskin collar. As I arrived at the school, he was outside in the dark and cold, rolling a cigarette. It was freezing but he stood there casually, like it was a summer’s evening. I nervously explained that I was a big motorcycle fanatic and had wanted to buy his book when I saw it at the local book store, but it wasn’t on the course reading list so I had ended up buying Holidays in Hell (O’Rourke, P. J.). In retrospect it may have come across as a bit of a backhanded compliment; ‘Hi Mike, I was going to buy your book, but then I found something better so I bought that instead.’
IN THE CLASSROOM, he bounded over to his desk and threw a brand new copy of the book to me – “Have a gift!” For me, it was like meeting a hero and I was genuinely touched by his kindness – perhaps he wasn’t as scary as he looked. I handed it back to him and asked him to sign it. His face turned to panic and he scuffled around, asking me and my classmates what he should write. “You’re the writer!” I laughed. But that clearly made him even more anxious. He sat down for a moment and thought to himself. He really seemed to be struggling. It crossed my mind that he should write another book called ‘Uneasy Writer’. A little while later he handed it back to me and I read what he had written; ‘To Ben, great to meet you. Best of luck with all your writing and travelling. Mike Carter’. It was simple and I felt that it was genuine. Somehow, it was as if I already knew Mike.
UNEASY RIDER by MIKE CARTER – BOOK REVIEW
ON THE FACE OF IT, Mike’s book could seem a little formulaic – 42 year-old man buys big BMW 1200 GS and takes off around Europe, meeting the locals. But as with so many adventure stories, this story is unique to Mike and the point he was at in his life: broken marriage, sick of his job, lack of self esteem etc. What I think really makes this story different is that Mike wasn’t a biker when he decided to to do the trip. Drunk and messy at his work’s Christmas party (he was and still is a travel journalist at the Observer newspaper in London) he told his colleagues that he was going to do his motorcycle test and then ride around the word. The book is written not through the eyes of a motorcyclist but through the eyes of a traveller. The bike is merely a tool, a weapon of freedom and rejuvenation. I think many of us that love bikes understand this.
HE TRAVELS through France, Amsterdam, Norway, Latvia, Sweden, Turkey, Italy – 27 countries in all – and meets some rather interesting people along the way, usually at bars and with the help of excessive alcohol. There’s Sue and Joe from Australia, a couple that live their lives on the road and become huge sources of support for Mike. There’s the Swedish beauty, Eva, who he ends up going to Gotland with – Scandinavia’s biggest festival. There’s Dave, the Stella-gulping Mancunian who he meets in Copenhagen and the night of unfulfilled lust with the beautiful Hanne, in Norway. It works because Mike is a real person, like you and me. He isn’t a famous actor, people don’t recognise him and start going crazy. It’s a glimpse of what would happen if you actually packed in your job and packed up your bike. People rip him off, people buy him drinks, people welcome him to their homes – others to their beds.
ALL OF THIS is underpinned by his personal dilemmas and issues which he openly discusses throughout the journey. He’s aware of his self pity, that he is, in the grand scheme of things, one of the lucky ones. He’s aware that he’s having a mid-life crisis and that he is not the only one to have ever had one. He is aware that the trip is nothing more than a dream to many. But, as much as the story doesn’t revolve around ‘one man and his bike’, he certainly falls in love with his, and the freedom it provides him. He gets addicted to moving, to discovering more and meeting people.
WHETHER YOU RIDE A BIKE OR NOT, whether you’re having a mid-life crisis, a quarter-life crisis or simply dream of escaping your reality, this book gives you a taste of balls-to-the-wind-take-off-without-a-plan-or-care-in-the-world style travelling. Mike’s introspective style gives us an honest report of the ups and downs, the loneliness and overwhelming sense of love and sincerity that he feels for the people and places he finds. It’s everything you could want from a motorcycle adventure book. And even more than that, it’s everything you could hope for from a mid-life crisis. If mine’s going to be as much fun as Mike’s, then please, bring it on!
UK Readers BUY HERE > Uneasy Rider: Travels Through a Mid-Life Crisis.Best prices from £2.03
USA Readers BUY HERE > Uneasy Rider: Travels Through a Mid-Life Crisis by Mike Carter. Best prices from $5.64
UNEASY RIDER BOOK REVIEW by BEN HOLBROOK ~ QNBIKES.