Book Review: American Borders by Carla King

Although it has been more than a decade since Carla King rode her Russian-made Ural with a sidecar around the North American continent, her recently published book is just as fresh as the day she originally posted accounts of her travels on that new-fangled thing called the Internet. Well … that’s what it was in 1995–something that very few were paying attention to or using. My how times have changed in just a short decade.

King’s original posts were on an Internet service called Global Network Navigator (GNN), which few people have probably every heard of. However, I happened to have had a GNN account … and an AOL account … and before that a CompuServe account. When AOL bought GNN, hundreds of thousands of AOL subscribers were finally introduced to a portal to the Internet and the incredible world of cyberspace. And, there was Carla King riding her Ural motorcycle around the country and writing about her adventures. I believe I even sent her an e-mail or two of encouragement and praise.

And now … here’s the book details. Finally!

American Borders

From Amazon

American Borders
A solo-circumnavigation
of the United States on a
Russian sidecar motorcycle

by Carla King

Published by Motorcycle Misadventures
2007, 228 Pp., $16.95

ISBN 13: 978-0-9646445-0-2

Available at Amazon

King’s travelogue begins with “Aren’t you scared?” It’s her beginnings with solo travel and the decisions that lead up to this trip. Although there is plenty of motorcycle adventure in the book, it is also a personal journal of traveling alone as a woman, the kindness of strangers, and the difficulties of putting an ancient motorcycle design to the test on North American roads. Every chapter tells of some mechanical breakdown that not only tests the limits of the motorcycle but her own demeanor and phsychological well being. And yet, she finds ways to overcome everything, doing much of her own maintenance and relying on the brand new USA distributor of Ural motorcycles.

As you read about her adventures, you can hear yourself thinking, “I’d quit.” But, she does not. She perseveres through numerous breakdowns, and it is in those moments that she provides the best snapshots of traveling alone and the people she meets. Had it not been for the breakdowns, this would not be the travelogue it is. For those unplanned stops along the way provide the very essence of the book.

The book is hard to put down. A few of her entries are very personal encounters. You want to keep reading to learn how she overcomes obstacles, both mechanical and human, and whether or not she makes it to the next planned destination. Her descriptions of riding through gorgeous landscapes and vistas, and the zen of lonesome roads is poetic. It is a wonderful travelogue that is sure to inspire the adventurer in all who partake of its chapters.

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