Jupiter’s Travels – Ted Simon

A whistlestop account of Ted Simon’s journey around the world on his trusty Triumph motorbike in the mid-1970s. Fascinating journey, through worlds which have changed much in the intervening thirty years.

Given the scale of Ted Simon’s journey, it’s not surprising that people and places flash by – apart from his problems with the Brazilian authorities on his arrival in South America which (currently) feel like they are getting more than their fair share of the book. It’s also quite hard to find natural breaks in the story; the “chapters” follow the continents, and Africa took up almost all of the first half of the book. Many pages after he leaves South Africa, we’re still stuck in northern Brazil, sans bike.

The second half of the book covers ground a lightning speed – zooming down the eastern side of South America and back up the western coast, zipping through Central America in a couple of pages before a chilled out, loved up stay in California. The whole of Australia and Malaysia go in a mere 36 pages (seven of which give his account of a merry time holed up in the outback with a quartet of truck drivers waiting for flash floods to subside) , and whilst India gets more of a look in, the journey on from there back to Ted Simon’s home in France takes 10 just pages – and that’s for Pakistan -> Afghanistan -> Iran -> Turkey -> Greece -> Yugoslavia -> Germany -> Switzerland -> France.

Jupiter’s Travels was not an obvious book for me, but I’d spotted a copy in a bookshop somewhere before the book was republished (to bask in the reflected glory of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s adventures on more modern motorbikes, albeit not travelling quite so far) and had added it to my wishlist, from whence it was bought by TJBR for my birthday this year. Although I do now seem to have lots of motorbike themed recommended reads….

Amazon.co.uk link: Jupiter’s Travels – Ted Simon