© 2004 by Kathleen Kemsley, published in Women On Wheels Magazine Mar/Apr 20004
You have to respect anyone who has ridden more than a million miles on a motorcycle. At the same time, you assume that anyone who has accumulated that much “helmet time” would have some wisdom to share. But in the case of Mark “Tiger” Edmonds, that assumption would be wrong. Edmonds, the other of Longrider, a book of road stories, has penned a second book as an encore to his first. The subtitle of the new book is Memories and Rants of a Longrider. This subtitle serves as a warning: mostly what you will be getting is a bunch of disorganized babble by a man who is a legend in his own mind.
There are some interesting stories related in the book, such as an account of a tree falling on Edmond’s motorcycle while he was riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Edmonds waxes downright poetic in some passages, such as this one: “We discussed the wet wind across the Everglades and the hot wind out in Death Valley…We talked about Bob Dylan’s song, Idiot Wind. And we reviewed the way the wind screams down in the desert around Organ Pipe, and the way it whispers soft in Southern cypress swamps.”
You get the idea. Edmonds is a better poet than he is an essayist. For the most part, nothing happens in this book. It is stream-of-consciousness writing, complete with liberal use of hokey language and deliberately poor grammar. The author admits to holding a Ph.D. in English, so he obviously knows better than to use the double negative “ain’t no,” unless he is trying (too hard!) to sound folksy. In one paragraph he uses the phrase “damn near” three times.
Beyond the affected style of writing, Edmonds could have really used some adjectives with teeth. About Highway 50 between Ely and Carson City, he says, “the whole of that portion is just as scenic as can be.” This description tells you nothing you didn’t already know.
Every woman rider who appears in this book is a passenger on Edmonds’ bike. Apparently he has never met a woman who rides her own motorcycle. At least none that he is willing to write about. “I put her up behind me,” is his standard phrase in reference to women who ride with him. As a female motorcyclist who hasn’t been “put up behind” anyone in many years, I was rubbed the wrong way by this man’s chauvinistic attitude. A little bit of it goes a long way.
Apparently other women feel the same way. “Once a girl has done heard all my stories and seen all my magic, well, I get pretty boring,” Edmonds writes. For me, this book was more than enough of Tiger Edmonds’ tedious self-obsessed prattle. For the reward of a few morsels of lryrical prose, plowing through this book was a chore.