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26th February 2004


Buy a copy from AmazonTracking Marco Polo by Tim Severin

This is not primarily a book about Classic Bikes, but it is undoubtedly a classic biking book along the line of 'Jupiter's Travels'. Tim Severin has recreated many epic journeys; you may have read his books or even seen TV films about 'The Brendan Voyage' etc. The Marco Polo book is his first, and recounts his first step into the epic journey business. As with so many of us, this involved old BSAs, youth and a spirit of adventure.

The book was published nearly 40 years ago so parts of the style are a bit dated; I suppose that should suit us perfectly!

The story is crafted in such a way as to appeal to readers who may not be greatly interested in the intricacies of the ways an old A10 can dump you in the middle of nowhere. Nonetheless to those of us who have experienced the trials and delights of journeying into the far distance with a machine of somewhat doubtful provenance and reliability, the signs are surely there that not much of the incident has been made up to embellish the tale.

We classic bikers are all 'renaissance men' (especially the classic biker women of my acquaintance), so I greatly enjoyed the cultural insights that the epic journey revealed. Both that which he went in search of and, as all of us who have travelled hopefully by Britbike, the experiences come upon by serendipity. Once again it's all written in an engaging style so as not to poleaxe the reader with the grinding thoroughness of a textbook. There is, though, certainly enough scholarship to show that the research is well founded. Who knows - perhaps the new knowledge gleaned about buckram may come in handy in a pub quiz one day?

My wife gave my copy of this book to me long ago when it was in print and she was young and pretty. (If only she could give me the time to read all the books she has found over the years). A little research shows that Amazon has a link to at least one second hand copy, a hardback unlike mine (the book that is!), so if the account of a now-impossible trip through Turkey and Iran appeals then be quick on that keyboard.

Dr Ian Seddon

Tracking Marco Polo by Tim Severin was first published by Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd in the days before anyone cared about ISBN numbers (Amazon think its ISBN is 009936400X - RealMart). Original cost 30 shillings. Happy hunting!

Amazon also has stacks of other bikey related books; click "GO!" to seach through their stocks:
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Photographed outside Waterloo station, it was obvious that Reginald (seated, rear) was not relishing the trip to Iran.

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