Odyssey to Ushuaia–book56
A Motorcycle Adventure from
New York to Tierra del Fuego
by Andres Carlstein
348 pages, $18.95
Chicago Review Press, copyright 2002

by Sev Pearman

What is it about youth that permits you to attempt what is likely to end in failure, ruin or bodily harm? Odyssey to Ushuaia is the true story of Andrés Carlstein’s 22,000-mile ride from New York City to Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina.

The collegiate author sells everything he owns to fund an MSF riding course, riding gear, a Kawasaki KLR 650 and his trip south. He willingly admits to no specific knowledge about riding habits or motorcycles; and almost nonexistent mechanical skills in general. Initially, his family is non-supportive. Further, despite his family’s Argentine ancestry, Mr. Carlstein speaks no Spanish. Does this read like a recipe for a successful ride? He counters these disadvantages with his theme of motivation. It is motivation that propels him forward and helps solve the ever-present challenges.

Via the Internet, he finds two other riders to accompany him. Both Robert and Peter are experienced riders, with thousands of miles under their belts. They rendezvous in Texas and form a mismatched trio. If you have traveled at all, you already know that riding in a group of three has its own hazard; no matter the plan, one rider is always at odds with the other two.

The group blunders their way through the border crossings and checkpoints in fourteen countries. They learn how to bribe corrupt cops and avoid loco bus drivers. Mr. Carlstein survives a head-on collision with a truck on a mountain road and gradually develops his maintenance skills.

The author describes in a simple clear style the beauty of the scenery and peoples he encounters, both his failures and personal growth, and the love affairs that perfume this adventure.

Of special interest to MMM’s dedicated reader/riders is the appendix that itemizes the equipment lists of the three riders. They are paradoxically similar and very different.

This is the best ride account since Notch Miyake’s Purple Mountains. [MMM #48] Whether you have ridden outside of our country or never left your own county on a motorcycle, Mr. Carlstein clearly shares that unique experience of what it means to be a ‘rider.’ Fully recommended with all four cylinders.

 

Verdict:
Is it still raining? – Exciting read while waiting out the storm.

South of the Border – Honest affable tone will inspire your own adventure.

World Rider – Nice mix of rookie blunders, cojones and plain old guts.

M.M.M.

 

 

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