Guides that will send you packing.
Twenty-five years of the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook
In the summer of 1991 I was dishwashing in a Mexican restaurant, recovering from a broken leg and another costly Saharan fiasco. The job was not too intellectually taxing so I thought I’d get into writing, having enjoyed describing my travels for bike magazines in the 1980s.
I decided to compose a short report on what I’d learned the hard way in the previous decade’s biking in the Sahara. Many riders, myself included, had trouble-strewn first trips, partly on account of a lack of hard information on all aspects of what’s now become known as ’adventure motorcycling’.
I bought myself an Amstrad, worked out how to turn it on and after a lot of wasted paper, dropped off a 30-page report entitled Desert Biking: A Guide to Independent Motorcycling in the Sahara at the Royal Geographical Society in London. For all I know the original is still tucked away in the Map Room’s archives today.
Rather pleased with the end result, I figured the report might have some faint commercial value and proposed this idea to what was then the Travellers Bookshop off London’s Charing Cross Road. It was good timing as they were considering publishing niche travel guides and an expanded version of DB fitted the bill.
I spent a couple of months padding out the RGS report into the 100-page first edition of Desert Biking which was eventually published in late 1993. It didn’t exactly hit the bookshops. Instead, as word got around and demand trickled in, batches were Xeroxed and stapled in a copy shop in Notting Hill and then sent out.
Following the moderate success of this hand-made version, a revised and suitably expanded paperback edition (left) was published in September 1995. The updated format included the addition of ’travellers’ tales’ in the back.
With nothing similar around in English and seeing promise in the concept, Compass Star picked up the idea and took it a big step further with the publication of the retitled The Adventure Motorbiking Handbook (AMH) in November 1997. It featured the practicalities and yarns of Desert Biking but brought in a network of two-wheeling contributors from around the globe to add expertise and help fill the gaps. It’s a collaborative formula which helps make the what it is today.
I created adventure-motorcycling.com around the same time, which featured over a thousand of your trip reports as well as whatever else was going on.
Compass Star in turn passed the rights on to Trailblazer Guides which, 25 years down the line, brings us to the seventh edition of the AMH. In recent years the range of gear, bikes, know-how and tours are now greater than ever, but the fundamentals of trip planning and bike preparation remain much as they did in the original Desert Biking report.
Enjoy the ride.
- Contents list
- AMH history
- Choosing a motorcycle
- Life on the road
- Sample route outline (Peru and Bolivia)
- Tales from the Saddle (sample)
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