Purple Mountains – America from a Motorcyclebook48
by Notch Miyake
221 pages, $19.95
Whitehorse Press, Copyright 2001

 by Sev Pearman

Finally, a book that we love. Purple Mountains is the true story of Notch Miyake, who sells his business, is not yet ready to retire, and decides to tour the U.S. on (what else) a bike.

The author illustrates his travelogue with snippets of dialogue, detailed descriptions and honest opinions. You may not like the route or the pace, but the energy that propels this book is unstoppable

Notch cautiously reveals himself in his writing. We learn that he was born in Hawaii, that he has a lifelong affection toward photography, and that he served in Vietnam in the Navy. None of these facts bog down the narrative but simply provide perspective.

Mr. Miyake writes with a perfect balance for both motorcyclists and casual non-riders. Thus, he describes in layman’s terms counter-steering and explains the embarrassment of running out of gas on a new bike. While familiar to a seasoned rider, these experiences are essentially human.

Writing about leaving Seattle after getting his BMW serviced, Notch states, “Getting back on the road after a layover is like forcing yourself to go to the gym for a workout. You know you need it and will feel better afterward, but it would be really nice to skip it just this one time.” Can anyone honestly not relate to that?

Without a doubt, this is the best motorcycle book since Melissa Holbrook Pierson’s The Perfect Vehicle. It reminds you of your specific reasons that you ride, may enlighten non-riders why we ride at all, and is a damn fine trip guide to Alaska. If you read but one book this year, make it Purple Mountains.


Casual Reader – A great book. Well worth your time

Gear Head – An excellent blend of travelogue and moto-journalism

Serious Rider – Bet you’re Alaska bound before you finish…


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