Book review: Lois on the Loose


Lois on the Loose, by Lois Pryce

Reviewed by Diana Moxon

Lois Pryce’s debut travelogue, Lois on the Loose, details her solo motorcycle journey from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego’s town of Ushuaia. Bored to distraction by office life in London, Lois decides she needs to find adventure before she is consumed by the banality of memos, polystyrene cups, and regimented plastic ferns — before she becomes the sort of person who brings her own coffee mug into work. “I wanted every day to be different,” she writes. “I craved the novelty of sleeping in a different place each night, waking up to familiar smells, sounds and languages. Most of all I wanted to be moving along, to always be going somewhere.”

Starting with a vague notion of taking a lengthy journey, Lois researches her options, finds out there are no motorcycle travel books written by women, spends hours looking at world maps and finally decides on South America based on the fact that “it’s got to be somewhere hot, and I’d like to see those big cacti with the sticking-out arms.” But a timely piece of advice from a world-traveling friend defines her final journey: “Make it a mission. Don’t just meander here and there. State your goal before you leave, whether it be to motorcycle around the world, or from A to B, or whatever. But this sense of purpose, even though it’s self imposed, is very important in keeping you focused.” And thus is her journey established.

Dispensing with biking wisdom, she plumps for a 225cc trail bike, a Yamaha XT225 Serow for her 16,000 mile journey across the Americas. Armed with a Spanish phrase book, one set of clothes, two pairs of socks, three pairs of panties, a bottle of nail varnish and the belief that, in the words of Robert Louis Stevenson “it’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive”, Lois and her bike fly to Alaska and begin a 10-month odyssey.

The ensuing tale is a gripping read. With the skill of a seasoned thriller writer, Lois has a page-turning event on nearly every page — and while the tone can sometimes veer towards the chick-lit that it really isn’t, Pryce’s talent is to make you feel every jolt and frustration as well as every sunset and vista. From her tangles with a pedantic Canadian Mountie and a well-executed escape from police wannabes on a remote stretch of road in Nicaragua, to her liaisons with border “fixers” and the gruesome crash of fellow Serow motorcyclist Amalia in Bolivia, it is impossible not to feel engaged with her journey, willing her on to that final destination.

I’m far from the ballsy adventurer that Pryce espouses, but having spent 6-months doing a solo-drive around the US, searching for the essence of Middle America through the small towns of the Midwest, Pryce’s sentiments of traveling hopefully have a resonance which I can well appreciate and while I agree it’s good to have a mission, sometimes you’ve just got to ride where the road takes you.


Diana Moxon is a radio correspondent for BBC 4, specializing in the idiosyncrasies of the English language. A native of England, she is now based in Columbia, Missouri.

Recent guest book reviews include Brian Hartenstein’s review of Brother One Cell and Kristin Van Tassel’s review of Code Green.

Posted by | Comments (3)  | March 26, 2007
Category: Travel Writing

3 Responses to “Book review: Lois on the Loose”

  1. Lorra Says:

    Thanks for the tip about the book, it sounds awesome.
    Your book is fabulous too. I read it a few years ago.

  2. justin Says:

    I interviewed Lois about a month ago — check it out.

  3. Ethan Zara Says:

    Can’t wait for the film version to come out.

    Backpacking on Little Money