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“Going the Wrong Way” Motorcycle Book Review [Rider’s Library]

In the 1970s, Northern Ireland’s Belfast was a cauldron of sectarian strife and violence. Disillusioned 21-one-year-old Chris Donaldson, the eventual author of “Going the Wrong Way”, decided to see if the world—specifically that part of it called Australia—had something better to offer.His ticket out was a Moto Guzzi Le Mans motorcycle; his passport was his Irish grit, sense of humor, and conviction that there had to be something better–a place of peace and amazing sights to see."Going The Wrong Way" Motorcycle Book ReviewHis plan was to take the round-about scenic route to the land down under. Just how round-about his itinerary would become was far more than he could have ever anticipated, and how picturesque—and eye-opening—would far exceed anything he could have expected.His incredible journey grew to be much more than one long motorcycle ride. It was an odyssey that would test him in ways he could never have planned for, and would reward him in ways he would only come to understand years later.Indeed, Donaldson’s “Going the Wrong Way” is as much a memoir as it is a motorcycle touring story. It is a remarkable record of a time now past that cannot be recaptured– a time when Donaldson experienced enlightenment about himself and the human condition in far-flung parts of the world.He experienced remarkable, unexpected kindness, friendship, and generosity among people who literally had nothing to give, as well as those who would cause him harm, take his few possessions, and victimize him. In the course of his journey, he witnessed wrenching poverty, starvation, and the ravages of war, ignorance, and cruelty. He would also forge friendships, see ancient wonders, and stand in awe of natural beauty.He would experience every hazard and privation life on the road can serve up, from bitter cold, snow, rain, mud, sand, extreme heat, serious illness, thirst, and hunger to dizzying mountain roads, mechanical failures, and punishing road conditions that would force him to improvise repairs to his Moto Guzzi Le Mans. For example, at one point, he had to lace his front suspension together with rope!Donaldson’s original plan called for a journey of about four months and 10,000 miles with Australia as his destination. In “Going the Wrong Way,” he chronicles an epic spanning 20 months, covering 39,000 miles, and embracing 33 countries, including sailing as an impromptu crewman on a racing yacht—and still never reaching Australia! Donaldson looks back on it this way:My journey was so intense that, practically every day, something happened that I would remember. Some forty years later, I can still look at my maps and remember how hot it was, where I slept. The Iranian Revolution stopped me from riding to Australia, but I should thank the Ayatollah, as the chaos it plunged me into was what made the magic happen. I travelled up, down and all about the world like a demented ant. I had left home a boy and returned a man. Somewhere under the searing sun of Sudan, I made the metamorphosis; everything before was just a test, everything after was just a chance to use my newfound powers. Despite the terrible pounding the Moto Guzzi suffered during Donaldson’s trip, it remains in his service to this day—it took him and his future wife to Moscow in 2004! While it is true that he went the wrong way to the extent that he never reached his chosen destination geographically, there can be little doubt that his was a journey of destiny with a significant impact on the man he would become. And as for reaching Australia? That may yet be.“Going the Wrong Way” Fast Facts

  • Title: “Going the Wrong Way”
  • Author: Chris Donaldson
  • Published: 2021 by Chris Donaldson
  • Format: Paperback; 379 5.7-by-8.25-inch pages; 83 color and black & white images and maps
  • ISBN: 978-1-8380127-6-2

Going the Wrong Way Price: UK: £14.99; US: $17.37

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