Lois on the Loose by Lois Pryce
I saw a great meme the other day about the seasons and it certainly applies to Yorkshire. At the start of September, we enter something called 'False Autumn', which lasts about a week and then goes into 'Second Summer' where the weather hots up again, before going into 'Autumn proper' where it turns into about 8 versions of winter. So as summer is coming to an end (again!), I'm madly trying to read books that I would tend to think of as summer reads, clearing the decks for all of those cosy autumn reads. I recently did a Book Chat about Motorbikes and it made me want to read 'Lois on the Loose' again. I have enjoyed catching up with Lois and her adventures.
Realising she is not quite ready for a 9-5 job where the highlight is an overheard conversation about a toilet seat on order at MFI, Lois Pryce decides to leave her job at the BBC and travel. She ships her motorbike to the US and undertakes a journey travelling through Alaska, Canada, North and South Americas and finishing in Ushuaia at the Southernmost tip of South America, all ridden on a 225cc bike.
This is an inspirational read about someone brave enough to reject the normal 9-5 and follow her passion for motorcycling. And boy does she have any adventures along the way; Camping in a freezing Alaska trying to avoid bears, being literally blown off her motorbike on the Ruta Highway, meeting other bikers along the way and generally just embracing life. I found the different border controls and crossings absolutely fascinating as Lois often had to employ 'fixers' who ranged in age from 7 to 70 to arrange the bribe of local border officials just to pass into the next country. During one particular border crossing, Lois had all the usual bribery money ready, but instead encountered a kind officer who made her a cup of tea, offered her cake and asked what she best liked about his country.
My favourite adventure involved Lois visiting a bike repair shop to get her bike fixed after travelling at altitude and being somewhat (pleasantly) astonished to discover that all of the mechanics looked like they had just stepped out of a Levi jeans ad, with their model good looks and ripped bodies and felt she needed to stay an extra day to really fine tune the bike.
At no point during the book, does Lois ever seem to worry about her lone woman on the road status and the ubiquitous horror stories that people insist on sharing about travel. Instead she chooses to be sensible and take people at face value and life is so much richer for it. She muses on motorcycling and travel beautifully. Sometimes everything can go wrong, a bike may break, a part may not be available, she may have to sleep in a brothel, but this is balanced by the good times; catching up with motorbiking friends, a good party or the sun breaking through the clouds providing a moment of pure happiness and peace.
I've very much enjoyed re-reading this. Lois captures the journey beautifully and does this with humour and a real sense of fun. Even during the tough times, she just gets on with it. Lois has written a couple of follow up books detailing further adventures. I'm looking forward to re-reading these!