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Overland to Egypt: On a 1952 BSA Bantam Paperback – 17 Feb 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Rixon Groove (17 Feb. 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0956116833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956116833
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 1.8 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 701,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

"To Egypt... on a Bantam! Are you joking?" This was the response to author Gordon May's idea to ride one of BSA's diminutive 2-stroke motorcycles, a modified 1952 D1 called Peggy, to the land of the Pharaohs. Not to be discouraged, he nevertheless set off on his quest. The first attempt at the ride, which took them across the Swiss Alps, ended prematurely in north eastern Italy due to an engine failure. However, Gordon recovered his spirits, set about rebuilding the engine and six months later, having learned from his mistakes, set off once more. This time, crossing through Tunisia and Libya, the ride was a success and after many challenges, Gordon and Peggy jubilantly made it to The Pyramids in Cairo. The return trip, via Jordan and Syria, was also not without its tests, but he was able to safely return the Bantam to the UK. As well as illustrating the depth of human kindness and hospitality often shown to visitors in the countries en route, including Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Jordan, Overland To Egypt also gives a rare insight into this region just months before the tumultuous changes which occurred as a result of the Arab Spring and the 2011 war in Libya.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 17 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
In a world where most of the wilderness has been conquered, adventurers now seek different challenges.
Gordon May's trip to Egypt is absolutely full of heart. How could it not be? He was on a shoe-string budget. He's a self-declared mechanical numpty. He chose to go on an unfamiliar and untested 60 year old Bantam - a Bantam! for goodness sake - even if he did opt to fit his D1 with a bigger 175cc engine (which might have been a mistake, in fact. Finding suitable petrol for the 'high performance' little stroker in North Africa proved to be nearly impossible). Furthermore, Gordon's travelling urge meant that he left behind his partner and young son, causing emotional angst before he'd even left the county. On top of all that, Gordon's route involved riding south through Europe then to Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Jordan. This was before the Arab Spring kicked off... but only just. And a lone Western traveller might have thought twice about undertaking such a route.
Inevitably, this was going to be an 'eventful' journey. And to Gordon's immense credit, he doesn't flinch from revealing those events with us, however cringe-inducing they may have been. So I'll not give too much away - oh, actually, I can't resist. Just a quick flavour of the disasters, to whet your appetite: on the first attempt, Gordon and the Bantam get no further than the Alps before admitting defeat. In fact, the Bantam breaks down on the very first day of the expedition, before they've even left home territory, never mind the country!
And so it goes on... especially in the opening chapters, a catalogue of confusing mechanical problems which Gordon has to overcome if he's ever going to get a sniff of a sphinx. He's not familiar with the Bantam and it isn't properly bedded in after an engine overhaul.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chooch Batten on 13 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is an easy read, due to its structure and writing.It combines the authors character and the emotion of a journey that at each stage has many highs and lows.I have read Gordon G May's other books and this is equal to overland to India.Both are gems.The kindness and generosity of people from each country he goes through gives you faith in the human race in countries that if you only listen to the news then it will give you an insight that we are all the same when a stranger needs help or support.If you are a keen motorcyclist then you will understand travelling on a BSA Bantam is not an easy option but very rewarding due to the history and standing of the machine in British motorcycling history and life.I enjoyed the fact that Gordon has little experience with two stroke motorcycles or mechanics, Peggy ( The BSA Banatam ) struggled on many occasions to the point of having to have a second go at the trip and still battled her way through conditions and situations all most all would have stopped and turned home on the back of the truck.Not Gordon, he has a unique out look on life and travel that is refreshing and motivating.A very personable and definate style of writing which makes him a joy to read or as i felt that i was next to him all the way.As all good books after i read it i wanted to rush out and travel any where on the planet as i had the authors words ringing in my ears.It is a book with interest for all not just motorcyclists,if you love emotion,people and a story of ups and downs read it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Coyle on 10 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback
Although this book's author is a friend of mine I am a fellow writer so I come here with my professional hat on.

I know a little about classic/vintage motorcycles but an overland trip from the UK to Egypt via Libya on a 1952 2-stroke BSA Bantam? That sounds like lunacy. Evidently, the people who heard about Gordon May's planned trip thought so too.

But Gordon is a curiously determined character. No doubt he was buoyed by the success of an earlier overland trip he made on a 1953 500cc Royal Enfield Bullet from Manchester to Chennai (chronicled in his book Overland to India). This second odyssey sounded like a very different prospect. Indeed, he learned just how different this trip would be the hard way because his first attempt on the Bantam ended prematurely due to engine failure. Gordon just took stock then rebuilt the engine (with help from fellow enthusiasts) and got back out there six months later.

The trip is was inspired by the story of a redoubtable woman called Peggy Iris Thomas, who, with her dog, Matelot, rode her Bantam hither and yon in the 1950s. Gordon's connection with this woman, who he spent three years trying to trace, is apparent throughout the book. He called his Bantam `Peggy' in her honour.

If I had encountered the many mechanical problems Gordon did with his Bantam I would have ended up certified insane. I just don`t know how he has the patience. He recounts all these incidents with a beguiling mixture of humour, acceptance and determination. When he is in trouble he sorts it out himself, or rings his supporters back in Blighty or takes up offers from those he meets on the road, who seem to greet him with great warmth and helpfulness.
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