I guess I’m a wimp when it comes to motorcycle adventures. I prepare for a 200 mile day trip like I’ll be trekking to the ends of the Earth. And I wouldn’t think of taking off without a cell phone and just about every maintenance and emergency repair item I can pack.
So I’m always amazed and in awe when I read the stories of riders who take on incredible adversity and who seem to thrive on pure adventure.
Two Wheels Through Terror has to go down as one of the all-time great motorcycle adventure books. It’s the story of Glen Heggstad’s life-long dream; a motorcycle trip from California down to the tip of South America and back.
This probably would have been a run-of-the-mill motorcycle touring story but for one horrifying event. I won’t spoil the surprise, but let’s just say that Glen ends up with way more than he bargained for, and the tale of how he responded to the adversity is spellbinding.
I’ll bet that 99.99% of all motorcycle adventure riders would not be able to survive Glen’s ordeal. What really saved him was his ability to dig way down deep into his soul and to rely on his rigorous mental and physical training as a martial arts instructor to pull him through.
The journey lasted over 25,000 miles through some of the most beautiful and wretched countryside in the world. Abject poverty abounds, but ironically it was always the “salt of the earth” who pulled him through.
The only thing that is puzzling to me about the book is that Glen seems to always be in a hurry. Maybe it’s the fate of motorcyclists, always wanting to be on the bike, riding, going somewhere. But it would have been nice to have a touch more narrative about some of the points of interest, because most of us will never see them firsthand.
I had a hard time putting this book down once I started. Like many long adventure narratives, the author seems to have gotten either a little bit tired or a little bit bored towards the end, and it’s too bad there isn’t more of a philosophical wrap-up at the end, because I think that would help the reader to understand Glen and the anguish that he suffered.
But overall, if you’re interested in adventure, touring or travel, on motorcycle or not, this book is well worth a read.