91-Year-Old Motorcyclist Pens Memoir of Travels Through 76 Countries

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A just-released travelogue, "Around the World on Two Wheels: An Old Man’s Motorcycle Journeys Through 76 Countries" (Kalmar Books) details trips a 91-year-old active motorcycle enthusiast has made through Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, Japan, Russia and all points in between.

"We’re really all the same underneath. I’ve made friends all over the world. That’s the best part.”

Have you seen Hans Karlsson? If you live somewhere on this planet, he’s probably been there, riding through on his Honda Gold Wing motorcycle. Karlsson, 91, has ridden his bike to all corners of the globe, chalking up 76 countries in total. The amazing thing is that Karlsson didn’t start making his long-distance trips until he was 68. Since then, he estimates that he’s logged more than 600,000 miles.

Karlsson still rides. He’s currently planning a trip from his home in Harahan, Louisiana, near New Orleans, to the southernmost tip of South America, a trip he’s made twice before. But last year, he took a few months off to sit down and write about his many long-distance adventures. Just released, "Around the World on Two Wheels: An Old Man’s Motorcycle Journeys Through 76 Countries" (Kalmar Books) details trips he’s made through Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, Japan, Russia and all points in between. It’s a travelogue aimed at long-distance motorcycle enthusiasts, but also anyone interested in world travel in general.

What motivates a 91-year-old to want to ride a motorcycle (most of the time on solo trips) to such faraway destinations? An insatiable desire to see other countries and other cultures. “I’ve had a love of travel ever since I can remember,” Karlsson says. “I grew up in a small town in Sweden and always knew that I wanted to see the world. I joined the Swedish navy in the Second World War and I’ve basically been traveling ever since. After the navy, I took various jobs that required travel to other countries. I guess I never really lost my curiosity about other parts of the world. When I retired, I decided I wanted to keep exploring.”

The motorcycle idea came by way of Karlsson’s son. “Paul had a bike and he taught me how to ride. And in 1993, when I was just a youngster of 68, we took a trip together from his house near Miami to California. I loved it. He rode a Gold Wing and let me ride his Suzuki Intruder. Since then, I’ve ridden everywhere.”

And he means everywhere. In the Western Hemisphere alone he’s ridden from Anchorage, Alaska, to Argentina. Shipping his bike across oceans, he’s ridden through Paris, Moscow, New Delhi, Tokyo, Sydney, Istanbul, Tehran, Zurich, and a thousand other cities, towns, and villages along the way.

After that first trip with his son, Karlsson got a Gold Wing of his own. “They’re heavier, more stable,” he explains, “with a lot of comforts and conveniences, like trunks for storage and even a stereo system. Basically, they’re designed for the kind of long-distance touring that I do.”

Around the World on Two Wheels was written from Karlsson’s many logs. He keeps meticulous notes on his journeys, detailing the people and the places. It’s the people that have made the biggest impression on Karlsson. “We might live in dramatically different cultures,” he says, “but we’re really all the same underneath. I’m always surprised at the hospitality I’ve received no matter where on earth I’ve gone. Everybody’s always so helpful. I’ve made friends all over the world. That’s the best part.”

At 91, Karlsson has no plans to slow down. “I’m healthy and I feel good,” he says. “There are a few places I haven’t seen yet and a few places I’d like to see again. I’ll keep going just as long as I can ride.”

"Around the World on Two Wheels: An Old Man’s Motorcycle Journeys Through 76 Countries" can be found on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

Book Information

"Around the World on Two Wheels: An Old Man’s Motorcycle Journeys Through 76 Countries," Kalmar Books, April, 2017, 373 pages, $17.95 paperback, also available in eBook, ISBN: 978-0-692-83553-1.

About the Author

Hans Karlsson, born in 1925, dreamed of traveling the world ever since he was a little boy growing up in the small town of Brunna, Sweden. But it was only later in life that Hans discovered his most cherished means of travel: motorcycle touring. He was 68 when he took his first long-distance ride. He’s 91 now and, in the intervening years, he estimates he’s logged more than 600,000 miles. And those miles have taken him from Alaska to Argentina, throughout the Middle East, all over Europe and Japan, into Africa, down under to Australia and New Zealand, and, quite literally, around the world.

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Jerry Payne
Kalmar Books
+1 (727) 822-8072
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