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31st May 2011

'Travelling With Mr Turner' by Nigel Winter
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A modern rider retraces a trip taken in the 1950s by Triumph's top man, Edward Turner. This book tells the tale of both journeys, touching on how motorcycling and Britain itself have changed over half a century...

Click to buy a copy from AmazonMy first impression upon receiving the small paperback 'Travelling With Mr Turner' by Nigel C Winter, was that this should be a quick and light read. Opening it, I found that a smaller-than-normal typestyle makes the book's slim 160 pages a quite lengthy read. It's not light, but light-hearted; and while physically small it is thick with substance.

Travelling With Mr Turner' chronicles the author's replication of renowned designer and Triumph executive Edward Turner's 1953 ride from Land's End to John O'Groats. Turner rode the famed route from Cornwall to the farthest reaches of Scotland aboard a Triumph Terrier with a full entourage, while the present-day author rode alone on his modern Triumph Thunderbird.

Rather than giving a rehash of pubs and vistas along a route that any of us could ride, Winter weaves together his trip report with Turner's own chronicle. He includes biographical insight into Triumph's famous designer and leader, along with a history of this most iconic of motorcycle companies. And yes, he does mention the pubs and vistas along the way, but incorporates them with rich local history and culture.

Not being a student of Triumph history myself, I had to augment the book with a stack of RealClassics and other reference material; I would expect a true Triumph devotee to be familiar enough with the company's models, milestones and men to be able to drink in the story without pause.

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I had some difficulty following the storyline in places, because of somewhat unnatural breaks in the chapters and prose. But what slowed down my reading was easily overcome by the substance of the narrative - Winter is a good story-teller, writing with detail, wit and self-deprecating humour, and the book is peppered with classic quotes and poetic clauses that elevate the tale.

I can heartily recommend Travelling With Mr Turner to a number of different audiences. Triumph fans will enjoy the fresh anecdotes; Turner admirers will look deeper into the man himself; distance riders will appreciate the locations and lessons discovered along the way; and classic motorbike nuts will delight in the references to a time when the old British bikes we treasure now were the best the world had on its platter.

RC reviewer: Anne Elke

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'Travelling With Mr Turner' from Panther Publishing Ltd contains 160 pages and costs 9.99, ISBN 978-0956497543, and is available via Amazon.co.uk

American readers can purchase copies from the USA distributor, Motorsport Publications LLC via www.ClassicBikeBooks.com or tel 715-572-4595, for $16.99.

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