La Ropa Sucia (Dirty Laundry)book82
by Owen L. Riess
70 pages
copyright 2005


by Sev Pearman

Maybe you have never ridden further than a half a tank of gas will take you. Perhaps you have ridden in other countries. You may have been riding for decades or maybe you have taken your first ride. One thing all riders have in common is the dream of that next big ride. La Ropa Sucia is the story of one of these dream rides.

Author Owen Riess leaves Rochester, MN on Christmas Day with three of his friends. They trailer their Harleys down I-35 to Laredo, unload the bikes and head into Mexico. Friends for many years, this is their first trip South of the Border.

Mr. Riess writes in a simple, honest style. He shares his frustration at the language barrier. When he tells of the freedom of riding on a curving mountain road, you can feel his elation. While reading his words, you feel as if you are in the room with him as he tells of his adventure.

La Ropa Sucia is laid out in a diary format and the author accompanies the text with rich images of the riders and their bikes. There are landscapes and those shots of roads that only riders understand. By far the best photos are those of the local people. These are respectful and illustrative. The photo of the young girl making tortillas (p. 18) is worthy of National Geographic.

If good photos can make a travel story, good maps seal the deal. Mr. Riess craftily provides a map of the overall route early on. This sets the hook and makes you want to read further. In addition he illuminates the text with detail maps that show the towns and both coastline and mountain roads.

There is no explosive climax. No one chooses to “lay her down.” No one is roughed up at the border. No machines are stolen. The four friends return to Minnesota and reflect on the trip and what they have learned about themselves.

Sometimes a book will stay with you long after you have put it down, making you think about your own life, your own machine and your own riding. This is one of those books. La Ropa Sucia runs on three out of four cylinders.

Newbie – Read this and get inspired.

Bar hopper – Spring is coming. Make this the year.

Righteous Rider – Recruit your vatos and mount up.


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