Endless Horizon

Editor ‘arris does a review of Endless Horizon, by Dan Walsh – A collection of travel articles that first appeared in the UK’s Bike magazine, and now available in one (very entertaining) book.


Review by Editor ‘arris. Pics supplied by Motorbooks.

There was a period about five years ago when I started going religiously to my local magazine store to pick up the latest copy of Bike magazine. Although IMHO it is the world’s best bike magazine (in print anyway) at close to $20 a copy there had to be something pretty special in the issue to warrant me doshing out that kind of dough.


Walsh looking relatively fresh in New York city.

My sudden interest in the magazine were thanks to the worldly traveller accounts submitted every month by a certain Dan Walsh – a British lad’s lad who had somehow got his shit together just enough to get out of Blighty and see some of the world.

I picked up on his adventures somewhere in South America as he stumbled (literally) from town to town and bar to bar. Somehow he had managed to get an F650GS from BMW and proceeded to do his best to kill the bike (through neglect) and himself (through alcohol) staying in one place just long enough to have to make an emergency exit due to the result of some kind of bad behaviour.

However, Walsh is not a bad man. He has a conscience – though that serves just to mock his drunkenness and inevitable inability to get his act together. He’s also intelligent and knows his history, which he recalls whenever he enters a new country, regaling with tales of decimated ancient cultures, broken dreams and the savage dictatorships pressed upon too many a Latin-American country.

Each month was a new country or, if he was still having trouble getting back on the road, sometimes just a tale of a side trek. To everyone’s surprise — his included — sometimes he even managed to score with a local hottie and was happily playing it out until inevitably it all went horribly wrong.


When you find yourself in this state in a bar, it might be time to hit the road again.

There are plenty of characters that he met along the way, including CMG’s own Rene Cormier, which I recall Rene telling me about, right after I suggested that he might want to read some Walsh to give him some ideas of how best to write up his own excursions … But then Rene is a very different type of traveller.

Predictably though, as Walsh descended further south, he also descended further into a bottle and the updates became more sporadic and more confusing until they eventually fell over and stopped altogether. I had assumed that some gangster had got him for fooling with his wife, or a big bender had finally gotten the better of him and he never came back to be briefly sober once more.

Then Bike published a letter from him in their letters page. A self-loathing apology to all the readers for being crap and being unable to drag himself out of the mental gutter that he drank himself into.

It was good to know that he was still alive. Still to be found on the floor of some Buenos Aires bar. But the ride was now over and so were my monthly trips to the magazine store.

It was the end of an entertaining journey as Walsh had shown himself to be honest, flawed, self-destructive, self-loathing, but above all, superbly entertaining – though I’m glad that I wasn’t the editor waiting patiently in a dank office for Walsh’s latest adventures.

Then a few months ago a book arrived at the CMG offices. Endless Horizon: A Very Messy Motorcycle Journey Around the World, by Dan Walsh. I was pleased to read the forward was written by Walsh himself, thus signifying that at least when he wrote that, he was still breathing. I was further pleased to see that the book was not just a collection of the Bike articles from his Americas trip but also from a previous trip he had made to Africa on a Yamaha XT600.


Dick and Jane – “nice but square”.

The publishers, Motorbooks, even went so far as to decorate pages with faux glass stains and splash marks (presumably beer). There’s also a generous scattering of colour photos which show a rather healthy looking lad in London (pre-Africa) but end up with a chunky, tired looking soul in Argentina. I get the feeling that no one’s quite as surprised that Dan Walsh managed to survive the adventure as Dan Walsh himself.

Obviously, this style of book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, the writing can get a bit repetitive (the inevitable result of stringing together a collection of articles) and it can get overly analogous, but after a while the fact that the last three pages I just read didn’t actually make any sense almost added to the soul of the trip. Like a song that you can’t always decipher the lyrics to I was still swept along by the energy and the catchy melody.

In another life I’d like to think that I could have been a Dan Walsh. But I don’t think I ‘d ever have been able to let go, to let my fate be determined by such reckless abandon. I’d likely be the Dick of Dick and Jane – a couple on a BMW 1150GS who are “nice, but square”, too distrusting to let my guard down and too anal to actually let things go sideways. But then that’s why we have people like Dan Walsh to do it for us.

Endless Horizon: A Very Messy Motorcycle Journey Around the World


Fun with drugs.

As a tribute to Dan Walsh I did my own bit of Walshian with the book’s publishers with promises that yes, the review was coming … okay I’m reading it now … BTW do you have a sample I can publish? … and then radio silence for a month as I tried to squeeze in a half hour reading time before slipping into my nightly coma.

Sadly I wasn’t drunk all the time and I wasn’t “bouncing coins off a ripe apple arse” of a 20-year-old Caribbean Beauty Queen just because I could. But the review is finally done (you just read it if you’re wondering) and — thanks to Nichole at Motorbooks — you can now read chapter 1 of Endless Horizon.

Oh yeah, and you can buy Endless Horizon for $34.99 Canadian at Motorbooks directly or somewhat cheaper at Chapters Indigo. Important that last bit. Okay, I’m off to get my bouncy coins … enjoy.

Chapter 1; Morocco


A healthy looking Walsh in rainy London.

‘I don’t mean to take the piss,’ chuckled Chris the Courier, lying through his gold teeth, ‘but we’ve just been overtaken by a funeral procession. Again.’

Monday 4 December, stuck in a drizzly lay-by on the dismal A2, and D-Day is turning into dead-slow day. Or slower-than dead-slow day, as that late fella in the stretched Austin Princess has just proved. Again.

Two forced stops in less than twenty miles. The first time because of a fire – nothing too dramatic, fortunately Chris spotted the smoking strap relatively quickly and we managed to pull over and stamp it out before it had done too much damage to the rest of the luggage.

And then, just as the acrid burning smell had finally cleared, I ran out of petrol. Despite the 25-litre tank and two reserve taps. All this within the familiar confines of the M25. Round the world? At this rate I’ll be lucky if I make it to bloody Dover.

Running away is not been as easy as I’d hoped. Having quit the job at Bike a month or so before the supposed departure day, I’d envisaged a couple of weeks of laid-back, one-task-per-day loafing, followed by a fortnight as a lout of leisure. Drifting around London town on my XT desert racer, popping into the occasional embassy and the regular pubs, revelling in the conspiratorial cosiness that only weekday-afternoon drinking can provide, overdoing the ‘What am I up to? Oh, you know, riding round the world on my motorbike’ mystique.


Maintaining bikes was not a strength.

Unfortunately, this balloon of delusion was quickly burst when the bike was impounded. It went back to Yamaha for its crucial yet supposedly uncomplicated pre-trip service, and was instantly declared unroadworthy by a gaggle of crosspatch technicians, shaking their heads and sucking their teeth at the state of my clumsy modifications. Seems that it wasn’t such a good idea deciding to fit the Acerbis tank after three hours of liquid lunching. With no tools. In the dark.

So with no bike to distract me, I was freed up to deal with the necessary paperwork, vaccinations, equipment, right? Er, wrong. It freed me up to make lists of all the things I had to sort, diligently updated every morning then urgently ignored. One of the main reasons for getting the funk out of Dodge was the opportunity to escape the claustrophobic clutter and pedantic detail of grown-up life. Instead I found myself staring at more forms than your average tax clerk.

Peter Fonda never made a film about this bit, the sleepless nights worrying whether to take hard or soft luggage, the endless queuing for expensive visas, the fruitless rooting through your mother’s drawers (easy, Oedipus) looking for long-lost childhood vaccination records. Frankly, it wasn’t very rock ’n’ roll.


Finding the perfect road.

Eventually, with a lot of cattle-prodding from the girlfriend, I got it sorted and was ready to go. Monday morning showed full of dirty weather that was turning brollies inside out and making the old boys in the bookies wonder why on earth they ever left Jamaica and Galway in the first place. The kit was packed, the documents we re photocopied and laminated, I was feeling quietly smug about how compact it all looked.

Until I transferred it to the bike, and the XT was transformed from lightweight trailie to hardcore squat. Park it next to a burst mattress, get a couple of seagulls to circle overhead and you’d swear it was a landfill site. When Chris turned up on his neatly tail-packed XJR, ready to escort me off the premises, he laughed till he choked.

And it handled even worse than it looked. So, two weeks late, a mess of excess baggage and jangled nerves, I wobbled away from the house like a reluctant drunk at closing time, bouncing off the sides of vans and knocking over traffic signs, before limping down to Dover. We managed, ooh, at least 80 miles in France before retiring, hysterical with cold and ever so slightly demoralised.



But that was then, this is now. The breakdowns (two in two days – I really should learn to use reserve taps) and the fires (yep, plural – eventually I twigged that ‘waterproof’ and ‘fireproof’ are not the same thing) and all the other little incompetent defeats have been more than cancelled out by a series of increasingly delightful victories.

Soaking up the ‘nice one’ one nods from the couriers at Vauxhall Bridge lights; the feeling of gay abandon saying ‘Just a single for me’ at the Dover ticket office; waking up on day two and realizing that it really didn’t matter that we’d got nowhere; tasting warm wind as I skirted Madrid; waving ‘goodbye’ to Europe from the deck of the Morocco ferry; and having my mind blown in a Tangier bar as a Berber child acrobat flick-flacked between the tables of dead-eyed hookers and mullet-haired truckers. And the realization that these are the savagely edited highlights of one short week. Wonder what I did this week last year?

There’ve been plenty of surprises, some pretty extreme (particularly the Tangier midget on the monkey bike. Laugh? We nearly shat), but no jarring surprises. Travelling slowly by bike blends everything together, puts everywhere in context.


Taking it easy on a beach in Senegal.

Right here, right now, I’m in the Moroccan mountain town of Chefchaouen, plotted up in a five-pound-a-night hotel full of Spanish drug fiends and local commercial travelers. Looking out of the arched window, I can see the whitewashed streets of the kasbah, a cedar valley clouded with clean morning mist, and the green and granite peaks of the Rif Mountains. The air’s hot, full of fresh mint and ferocious hash and Arabic children’s voices. The XT’s downstairs, locked to the front desk in reception.

If I’d suddenly jumped here from A1-commuting on the ZX12, it’d be overwhelming. But I’ve had three days in France to get used to the bike, to practice driving on the right and to sharpen up my dull French, which is the second language round here. I’ve had two days in Spain feeling winter turn to spring turn to summer. And I’ve had a long weekend in Tangier, acclimating to Africa in a Mediterranean environment. So yeah, it’s all pleasingly exotic and constantly amazing, but never unnerving or overwhelming.

Round the world on a bike? Piece of piss, mate. Bring it on.


  1. I had the distinct impression after reading this book that the author was not sober for more than a few minutes during the years it took to accomplish whatever it was that he accomplished. If you find that incoherent writing and irresponsible behaviour is amusing, that lack of preparation and unwillingness to perform basic bike services are admirable traits, then you must at least consider this book.

  2. I don’t think you should be so hard on yourself Mr Editor – I would think this sounds just like how a CMG-around the world trip would go. Where is that Mr Seck anyway?

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