UREKA – The Story of a Journey That Will Keep U-Turning.

Posted on June 13, 2014

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Ah, the open road. For so many of us, that long black line to the horizon spells freedom. No ties, nothing holding you back. There’s only you, this moment, and the promise of unknown adventure ahead.

At least, that’s the theory. If you have a secret yearning for the Easy Rider life, or you’ve taken inspiration from Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman’s cross-continental adventure “Long Way Round”, it should be remembered that these journeys are never plain sailing.

One person who knows this all too well is author Graham Field. Graham’s first epic motorcycle journey – travelling 15,000 miles to Mongolia – was chronicled in his book “In Search of Greener Grass” and saw him use his five thousand pound winnings from the game show Deal or No Deal to buy himself a cheap Kawasaki KLR650 from eBay and head off in search of adventure.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 18.58.29However, Graham’s thirst for freedom was not slaked by this experience, and he worked and saved and planned for a new journey, this time setting his sights on the Caucasus, via Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 19.07.07Ureka charts that journey in Graham’s colloquial and honest diarist writing style, letting you share his experiences, and making you feel as if you were right there sitting on the saddle yourself. As the rain stings or the SatNav decides to stop working, you can almost feel the cold, damp clothes sticking to your skin or his defiance as he refuses to listen to directions and ends up in another country by mistake.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 19.08.32The places he visits on his journey, and perhaps as importantly the people he encounters along the way, are brought vividly to life, but not all of them are enchanting. For every gypsy caravan by the river there is a squalid hotel room and the sound of a hacking cough through paper-thin walls. There are moments when the sun shines and the picturesque scenery rolls by, just as there are moments of sitting in traffic jams and cooking in his black, armoured gear.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 19.13.01One of the pleasures of this book is finding out more about Graham himself. He’s witty, self-depricating, and above all, honest. Not many authors would be as comfortable sharing the fact that their eyesight is failing to the point that they can no longer read the map. Few would be as honest as to admit that they’re indecision over where to go next is because they can’t choose between a scenic route or one that will take him to a girl who will sleep with him.

U-turn if I want to, is that what I should do?

The words rang a distant bell. I can’t decide if turning suggests rebellious failure or submissive success, not that it matters. With my determined aspirations I’d overcome the challenges of terrain, bureaucracy, navigation and heat as I rode to the Caspian Sea; it was just that illusive satisfaction that I couldn’t find.

If all my experience had taught me one thing, I was buggered if I knew what it was. I had all the usual ingredients, my trusty KLR, a little bit of money, plenty of time and lots of new countries to ride through. I transited  Bulgaria resisting its long-stay temptations, took an excursion into humbling Iraq, then wound on up through the wild surprises of eastern Turkey on the way to Georgia. In Azerbaijan I turned the plan and the map round. It wasn’t just the journey that took a different direction, everything changed…

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt on the road it’s that I never stop learning from the road. Some things are not meant to be and others are; the trick is finding the line between desire and contentment, then riding it.

And herein lies the greatest thing about this book: Its humanity. In it, Graham describes the people that he meets with poignancy, but he also reveals himself. And, although you might not mean to, it’s difficult not to laugh at some of his actions, such as deliberately choosing not to take wet-weather gear, or going out to “check on his bike” in the hope that he will be asked to join the party going on outside his hotel.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 19.11.07All this adds up to a rather wonderful story. One that allows you to see through Graham’s eyes, meet new people, and to explore new parts of the world.

Whilst it may inspire you to take your own journey, it may also save you the trouble. After all, after reading this book you’ll feel like you’ve already experienced Graham’s adventure for yourself.

 

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