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Mexico by Motorcycle: Book Review

Mexico by Motorcycle: Book Review

The popularity of motorcycling in Mexico has its modern roots in the first half of the 20th century. And through blogs and other online means of mass communication, especially in the last decade, writing about this particular way of seeing the country has increased exponentially. However, the topic has not received a comprehensive treatment in both a highly informative and highly entertaining manner – until now.

In Mexico by Motorcycle: An Adventure History and Handbook (Sombrero Books, 2015), Mexican expert and motorcycle enthusiast William B. Kalicher takes us on a journey spanning more than two decades. No, Kalicher hasn’t been riding continuously all this time; his first visit was in 1964, and the basis of his book was drawn from extended experiences in 1971 and 1993.

Kalicher immediately grabs your interest. Early on, he lets you know what to expect using descriptive anecdotes interspersed with precious travel tips. It quickly becomes clear that the author is a talented writer and former biker who has been keeping a journal of his travels for decades; not just the two main motorcycle adventures described in the timeline, but literally for fifty years, using different modes of travel while crossing thousands of roads connecting the villages, towns and cities of Mexico.

Advice includes: night riding; what and how many clothes to wear and why (even bikers should have a nice shirt and pair of pants handy); climatic considerations; repair matters; contemporary perceptions of drugs, violence, bribery and related concerns; insurance; maps; the border; relationships; motorcycle size (amazing surprise for me); accommodation, restaurants and attractions; parking; security; dogs; and all of this makes the adventure worthwhile and more importantly a life-changing experience.

Although the first two chapters contain a wealth of valuable advice, Kalicher’s style is to sprinkle additional nuggets of wisdom throughout the book. He conveys the fruits of his experience through the use of richly descriptive and at times humorous narratives such as the mention of the “mother of all potholes” and how traffic lights and stop signs suddenly become “obstacles to be overcome”. His knowledge of Mexico’s past as well as its unique and diverse present-day traditions and personalities shine brightly.

Mexico by Motorcycle is an exquisite photo essay, a travel guide full of critical tips and advice that will surprise you that Kaliher even thought to mention it, and an adventure through the country’s landscapes, history and contemporary cultures.

My criticism is of the title, but only because prospective visitors to the country using a car or van may miss one of the most important books of modern times on Mexico travel. The audience should include Mexicophiles who are not interested in driving in the country. What you read will trigger pleasant memories of past experiences and arouse interest in returning, perhaps even on a motorcycle.

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