In 2006, English travel writer Mike Carter spent six months motorcycling almost 20,000 miles around Europe.
His 2008 book Uneasy Rider: Travels Through A Mid-Life Crisis is his amusing and thought-provoking account of that experience.
What prompted Carter to undertake such an incredible journey? The last three words in his book’s subtitle: “mid-life crisis”.
As Carter explains in the first two paragraphs of his book’s prologue:
The nadir of a man’s life is 42. I don’t know why, exactly. The frustrating thing about a nadir is that you cannot know precisely when you have reached it. That only comes later.
There are plenty of surveys that confirm it to be true, though. You can find them if you’re looking for them. I was coming across them everywhere: magazines in doctors’ waiting rooms, newspapers discarded on trains, television, radio; all concluding that the absolute rock bottom, the pit of despair, the precise moment when a man runs out of steam, suffers a catastrophic crisis of confidence, hits ground zero, call it what you will, occurs at age 42.
Carter turned 42 in April 2006. By then, a seven-year marriage had ended in divorce and he had already endured a couple of years of middle-aged regrets.
This inspired him to boldly (and drunkenly) declare at a 2005 work Christmas party that he would embark on his six-month motorcycle journey and write a regular column about his upcoming travels.
Which he did, as recounted in Uneasy Rider.
I was initially inspired to read Uneasy Rider because of my recent liking for similarly-themed major-journey books like Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Michael McIntyre’s The Kindness Of Strangers.
But when I began reading Uneasy Rider, I was especially struck by what Carter had to say about his mid-life crisis – partly because he wrote very movingly about it, and partly because how it related to a recent experience of mine.
I turned 42 in June 2013.
By then, I was already several months into what I would later call my mid-life crisis.
My crisis had begun in late 2012, but I would come to think of 2013 as my crisis year as it mostly dominated those twelve months.
At those times, those mentions were all I had planned to say about my mid-life crisis.
But the first few chapters of Uneasy Rider got me thinking about it again.
I thought I’d write some more about what I went through, and how I dealt with it.
TO BE CONTINUED