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Old Man On A Bike [Paperback]

Simon Gandolfi
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 17 2008
A Septuagenarian Odyssey Simon Gandolfi has never been one to grow old gracefully and following two heart attacks he decides not to rest up, as many might, but to ride the length of Hispanic America on a 125cc motorbike. And why not? His wife may have plenty of reasons why not, but used to the intrepid septuagenarian's determination to complete any plan he comes up with, she shrugs her shoulders and waves him goodbye. At 73 years old, Simon Gandolfi sets off from Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico to embark on a five and a half month journey culminating at 'the end of the world', Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. For Simon this is a journey of discovery. Leaving behind the safety and sanctuary of friends and family, he is truly alone but along the way he meets and talks with rich and poor, old and young, officials and professionals, agricultural and industrial workers. This expertly written travelogue reveals not only the stories of those he meets, and his own, but also that of Latin America, its attitudes to itself, to the USA and the UK in the aftermath of the Iraq war and the realities of the poverty and endemic corruption throughout much of this continent. But whilst guide books often warn of thieves, corrupt police and border officials, Gandolfi writes of the incredible kindness and generosity he encounters, of hope and joy, understanding and new friendships, and ultimately, an old man's refusal to surrender to his years. 'The journey begins tomorrow at 8 a.m with a flight from the UK to Boston. I fly Aer Lingus and have bought and will wear a green shirt and a Clancy Brothers Arran sweater in hope of an upgrade. I will be away from home for many months and I have a long long way to ride. Am I nervous? Yes. Scared? A little.' Simon Gandolfi, 18 April 2006 Outrageously irresponsible and undeniably liberating, Gandolfi's travels will fire the imaginations of every traveller, young or old.

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About the Author

Simon Gandolfi has travelled widely through the East and the Americas and has lived for periods in a variety of countries and cultures. He is author of 10 books and now lives (when not travelling) in Herefordshire with his wife, Bernadette.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying Oct. 2 2009
Wonderfully written with straightforward observations of a part of the world that most have no clue about. Simon's wit shines; very dry at times, contrasted by blunt reflections on the terrible reality and oppression that many live under. Not a hardcore motorbike travel book in the usual sense, but the fact that the man does this journey on such a small, unassuming bike with no spare gear or much knowledge of how to ride OR repair it, makes it hardcore in a unique way. Bravo.
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5.0 out of 5 stars All bikers should read this book! July 9 2012
By kibbie
Just finished Simon Gandolfi's two books "Old Man on a Bike" and "Old Men Can't Wait". Great read! I too am a biker but an Iron Butt Endurance rider and at 58 still enjoy pushing myself to the limit. Thanks for introducing me to a different type of endurance ride I can start to do in my 70's. Love his political points of view and humour. They`re right bang on! Keep on writing Simon and ride safe!
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As an avid motorcyclist, I have taken short road trips on a variety of motorcycles. I'm now toying with the idea of taking an extended journey through Latin America, and during my research I stumbled onto this book. Mr. Gandolfi bought a Honda 125cc delivery bike in Veracruz, MX and rode it all the way south to Tierra del Fuego, then north to New York.

This book is essentially his daily journal of the trip south. He offers many candid comments about his journey, both good and bad. The only fault I can really find with the book is that it could use more photos of his discoveries, and I would like to know more about his preparations before he started. All in all, I think it's an excellent reference for others planning a similar motorcycle journey. I find the story very inspiration - if a 73-year old grandpa can do it, so can I!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simon Says... March 30 2011
By Joe - Published on Amazon.com
I've read just about every motorcycle travel book in existence. This one is the best I've ever read. I followed Simon's blog and found it fascinating, so I picked up a copy of the book as soon as it was out. It's a great read. His perceptions (and descriptions) made me feel like I was riding with him.

Other folks have written about riding long distances on motorcycles; few (if any) have done it on small bikes. And he did it through the Americas without a chase vehicle and all kinds of external support. There's a big difference between zooming along on a big street bike versus putting along at 35 mph on a little bike. I found the whole concept wildly appealing, and having ridden big bikes in other countries, I found the idea of a trip like Simon's on a small bike appealing. I think it is more of a challenge than doing this kind of travel on a big bike. Simon is a real adventurer with a love of life, and that comes across in his writing. He's not trying to impress anyone.

The other aspect of his book I found greatly appealing is he spent time in each area and got to know the people there. He didn't just blow through different time zones and write about the scenery. I feel like I got to know the people he met, too.

After reading his blog and his book, I sent Simon an email and we became friends. Last year, Simon, myself, and three of my friends rode the length of Baja and back on 150cc bikes. It was great. He is exactly like he is in the book. He's real.

I don't understand why one of the other reviewers didn't finish Simon's book. I thought it was great. You won't be disappointed with this one...trust me, it's a wonderful story told by a man who knows how to write.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read Sept. 21 2012
By leitz - Published on Amazon.com
I picked up this book with both an interest in motorcycles, South America and travel. The writing style is wonderfully entertaining and captivating.

The odyssey allows the reader to view past several barriers society postures for us (old age is boring, central and South American countries are dangerous, small bikes are useless, etc). I anticipate reading the sequel shortly.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a guy! July 23 2011
By rathackman83 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this book...Simon is an inspirational old duffer who has given me the inspiration to do my own long distance moto riding in Latin America at the age of 67! Very cool guy and author and I am anxiously awaiting his return trip to Mexico! Yay Simon!
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 73-year-old Easy Rider (sort of) June 26 2009
By Ixion - Published on Amazon.com
An incredible account of a 6-month trip following the "Cortez trail" from Veracruz, Mexico to Tierra del Fuego on a 125cc Honda "pizza bike" (the ones ridden by pizza delivery guys worldwide), alone, by 73-year-old Gandolfi (who's British).

He rides through sandstorms, snowstorms, ferries on a smuggler's boat, drops the bike multiple times sometimes injuring himself, and meets all kinds of people nearly all friendly and helpful (even the customs/immigration officials).

I've also traveled thousands of miles by motorcycle and it's really an adventure -- but my mounts have been 1000cc touring bikes with windscreens, designed for such travel. However, Gandolfi makes a good case for a cheap lightweight bike if you are traveling through what is pretty rough country.

I docked it 1 star because of Gandolfi's partison (and irrelevant)cheap shots about "the torturer Bush" who "lied to the United Nations"..., etc., etc. He apparently lived in Cuba in the 90's (for some reason) and is unable to always stay on message regarding his remarkable journey.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great First Person Account April 21 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book as a result of reading his Kindle book of his later "return" trip. It is an engrossing read for me for several reasons, 1) his age (mid 70's), 2) his bike (a very small 125 cc Honda), 3) his descriptive prose. Gandolfi is a writer (unlike some Kindle authors) who creates vivid word pictures of his travels, the locations, people and his experiences, the majority related to his trip on his MC. Some complain of his injection of politics, but as he explains, he's relating the comments / concerns of those he talks with and the impact of the continent's bigger north American "brother" on Central and South America, for better or for worse. I found his narratives to be natural, and typical of those I have heard (and generally try to avoid) when traveling outside the U.S. (or Britain in his case). But most readers and easily dial that out and enjoy the travel narrative, with his problems and successes.
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