– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

“Riding Man” by Mark Gardiner: MD Book Review

As the pun in the title suggests, Riding Man is a book about one man’s determination to ride in the famous Isle of Man TT races. It traces the path of Canadian author Mark Gardiner’s expedition to a distinctly peculiar world of road racing, where the road is 37.7 miles long and climbs a mountain through often variable weather conditions as well as winding through towns and countryside.

As an amateur motorcycle racer and professional motorcycle journalist, Gardiner would seem to have the perfect qualifications for the job. Certainly he has the skills to weave an interesting account of the whole experience. But as the reader soon finds out, the task of learning the track, negotiating the regulations and meeting the technical requirements is pretty daunting. Not to mention the mental preparation required

Gardiner was fortunate enough to have backing in the form of a CBR600F4i provided by Honda, as well as technical assistance and professional advice offered by locals steeped in the business of competing in the TT. Nonetheless, the magnitude of the challenge was significant in terms of both its technical complexity and its claims on the innermost reserves of human will, and Gardiner manages to express that with writing that is both elegant and compelling.

Gardiner salts this grand saga with snatches of historical and cultural narrative, and with well-drawn and amusing observations of the events around him. He even includes some fascinating and incisive material about his “other life” as an advertising copywriter, and although this may have been borrowed from some unpublished project (from the look of it), it nonetheless proves to be good reading.

Indeed, it may be the mixture of observation, experience and minutely analyzed technical details that make this book the enjoyable cocktail it has turned out to be. You don’t have to be a motorcycle nut to enjoy it, although those sensibilities will certainly help you appreciate the exquisite danger and intricate aspects of negotiating a long and complicated course at high speed.

But since Gardiner’s inner dialog is honest, smart and irreverent, it provides an insight into the peculiar compulsions that drive men onto the challenging Manx course. Accordingly, it ought to prove enlightening even to those readers with just a passing interest in motorcycles.

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