"strong but quite different type of autobiography"
Author Richard la Plante wanted to once live his American
dream of attending the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis,
South Dakota. However, the now fiftyish Richard knew his
time to consummate his dream apparently passed and he
always would be a couch potato wondering what he missed.
With a young child and a pregnant wife and now fifty-three,
Richard faced with economic worries and writer's block
decided it is time to live his fantasy. Borrowing a bike,
he begins his odyssey.
IN DETOURS: LIFE, DEATH, AND DIVORCE ON THE ROAD TO
STURGIS, Richard, in his autobiography, concentrates mostly
on the trek to the Dakotas, which serves as an allegory to
life's journey from birth to death. This is a strong but
quite different type of autobiography. Though some will
say the author ignored his responsibilities to his family
with this risky venture, many will agree this book is worth
reading not only for the well-written morality tale, but
also for encouraging individuals to sing "My Way".
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted August 11, 2002
Author Richard La Plante had always wanted to ride cross-
country to Sturgis, South Dakota. To the famous motorcycle
rally that began as a small gathering of the Jack Pine
Gypsies MC in 1938 and grew to become the Mecca for the
American motorcyclist. But, by the age of fifty-three,
still bruised from a divorce, newly remarried and a father
for the first time, he thought the trip was destined to
remain an armchair fantasy.
Then came the summer of 1999. Again his wife was pregnant-
with a second child. The family was temporarily homeless,
he was suffering from writer's block, but a Big Dog
motorcycle that he had been designing by phone was finished
and ready to ship. With no place to live, a new wife and
child, another baby on the way, a blank computer screen, a
teetering bank balance, a twenty-five thousand dollar
motorcycle ready for delivery, and a mind that felt
parboiled, La Plante made a decision. Escape. Out of the
armchair and into the saddle.
On a borrowed bike, he set off for the Black Hills of
Dakota. Waiting at the end of the ride was a week-long
party, a cast of outrageous characters, a sea of chrome,
steel, and rock'n'roll, and his Big Dog motorcycle. But the
real story is the miles in between. Moments of crazed
introspection while stranded beneath a highway underpass in
Iowa waiting for the floods to stop, the sheer euphoria of
watching the sunrise in the mirror with the wind in his
face and the bike roaring west, the anguish of being
hopelessly lost on the wrong side of Chicago, all add up to
the metaphor of a life's journey.
Told in La Plante's humorous and self-deprecating style,
Detours is a wild ride, all the way home.