Book Review: Red Tape and White Knuckles

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Last year I had the distinct pleasure of writing a review of the book Lois on the Loose by Lois Pryce. The book recounted the authors adventures as she rode her motorcycle from Alaska all the way down to Ushuaia, Argentina, encountering many unique characters and surviving all kinds of situations along the way. At the end of that book, I couldn’t help but wonder what was next for Lois.

Turns out, she wasn’t finished with her long distance journeys by motorcycle just yet, and was looking for even bigger challenges, this time riding from London, England to Cape Town, South Africa. The stories of those adventures are told in her latest book Red Tape and White Knuckles.

The title is fitting once you delve into the book. The ride through Europe is relatively tame and mostly uneventful, as you would expect, and takes up only a chapter or two at the beginning of the book. But once Lois reaches Africa, the real adventure begins. The riding conditions are challenging almost immediately, with the daunting task of crossing the Sahara Desert, where both the heat, and the sand offer challenges. But our intrepid traveler manages to hook up with a crew of rally drivers who show her the ropes early on, before she truly strikes off on her own.

Lois’ route through Africa is mainly in the western portions of that continent. She arrived fresh off the ferry boat in Tunisa, and traveled south through Algiers, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, the Congo, Angola, Namibia, and finally South Africa. Most of those are countries that I am familiar with, but don’t know a great deal about, but the book did an excellent job of introducing me to the peoples and cultures of western Africa, and inspiring me to want to visit them myself. I can’t think of a higher compliment than that for a book on adventure travel.

In Lois’ first book we were treated to a wonderful journey that was, at times, dangerous, but rarely in a life and death sense. The author started that journey with a bit of trepidation, and ended it as a seasoned traveler who could handle nearly any situation that was thrown at her. At the beginning of Red Tape, we see that Lois. The girl that has already conquered North and South America and is looking for her next big adventure. But the tone of this book is a bit different. It’s less care-free than Lois on the Loose, and you get a real sense of danger throughout. It quickly become apparent that her first ride was an easy one when compared to the perils of Africa, where a woman traveling alone can face danger around every corner. Throughout it all though, Lois remains upbeat and energetic, even when things around her are not going as well as they should. Clearly she is a “glass-half-full” kind of girl.

That shift in tone doesn’t do anything to dampen Lois’ spirit however, and her excellent, very witty (and at times very British) writing style makes Red Tape and White Knuckles a joy to read. She’ll have you laughing out loud a number of times throughout the book, especially when describing the many characters she encounters along the way. Lois seems to have a knack for finding the most unique, larger than life, people where ever she goes. Perhaps it is her own personality that attracts them.

It seems inevitable that this book will be compared to Long Way Down, the television show that saw actors Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman take a similar journey. Charlie and Ewan rode through East Africa however in their travels, and the program really offers a completely different experience than the one found in this book. It should also be noted that Lois had already went and was home, long before the boys set out on their ride.

Unfortunately, Red Tape and White Knuckles is not available in the U.S. yet, which means that if you live here, you’ll have to find alternative ways of getting your hands on a copy. There are occasionally used copies available on Amazon, but hopefully some publisher will see fit to bring this across the pond for all to enjoy soon. No matter what you have to do to get your hands on this book (might I recommend a trip to London?), it’ll be worth your while. Once you start reading, it’s hard to put it down, and when you do finally reach the last page, you might even start shopping for a motorcycle of your own. 😉

Kraig Becker

2 thoughts on “Book Review: <i>Red Tape and White Knuckles</i>”

  1. I enjoyed this book but puzzled as to why Lois was so patronising of the Begium travellers in the Sahara. If she really didn't like them why wasn't she brave or independent enough to split from them.Also all that mud and a mere 5 days in Angola didn't sound worth the effort. Why be dismissive of beautiful Namibia……..I have an opinion because I recently travelled through on a much bigger bike and started in Tokyo and old enough to be her mother like those women in Namibia

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