Book Review

Reviewed by Steve Johnson
Posted on the Chain Gang Website

Gathering Speed - Tales of Motorcycles and Life
By David A. Braun (AKA - Flash)

In a day when everything is electronic and "off the net" it is pleasant to enjoy reading the way it is meant to be - in a big, comfortable chair and time on your hands. Gathering Speed is 8 chapters and 200 pages along with a few black and whites pictures and illustrations that is just that kind of reading. Like Pirsig's Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, Braun's work is more than a book about motorcycling. It is about life and the adventures and lessons learned from those adventures.

The style is personable, but unlike Zen, the reader does not have keep a reference book of philosophy at hand. It begins with the beginnings of a young boy's interest in things mechanical. Early in the story the Author relates the thrill of putting a motor back together and having it start right off. It brought back memories of rebuilding a VW Bug motor and having everything work when I switched on the ignition.

The first chapter should be called "Busted Knuckles, Grit, Grim, and Oil." The reader relives learning the basic lessons of wrenching anything to do with internal combustion engines. From "Tales of The Elephant Ride" (subtitled "Tell Us If We Do Something Stupid") to buying a motorcycle shop in a split-second decision, we learn about and share one man's passion for two wheels. Along the way the reader learns insights into motorcycle mechanics in the honest and humorous way that John Muir told us how to keep our VWs alive forever.

GS has a Jack Kerouac flavor that I found interesting. It is easy to see that youthful excitement for what may be around the next corner. Those who have read On The Road will recall Sal and Dean and the rest as they dashed about in eager pursuit of whatever was at hand, of how they all chased dreams.

The last part of the book contains character sketches of some of the most unique fellow travelers met on this interesting journey. There are several pages of quotes on biking, living, and religion. To many who ride those three topics are one.

Enjoy this book. Those readers who have had the same adventures will smile knowingly; those more timid souls will be amazed; and some lucky young reader just might get inspired.

David Braun is Chain Gang Inmate #F650412