Imagine being able to take a ride around the world, participate in some of the greatest rallies, challenging adventure rides, see some of the most spectacular motorcycles and scenery and meet some of the most interesting riders in the world all without leaving your couch.
Thanks to author and photographer Henry von Wartenberg and his new book, “The Riders,” now you can. With images of people, places, and events gathered in 32 countries around the world over more than 20 years, von Wartenberg takes us along to many of the places he’s been, and most of us could never hope to see.
The images are presented in five chapters opened with essays by some of the most recognizable people in motorcycling and motojournalism.
Paul D’Orleans, author and publisher of The Vintagent website, preps us for chapter one, “The Bike Riders,” with an insightful piece on who motorcyclists are and why. He points out that most motorcyclists in the world depend on a motorcycle for its economy, versatility, and utility. In many parts of the world, a motorcycle is a necessity, not a luxury. But beyond those basic virtues, he looks more deeply into why the motorcycle is more than basic transportation.
“Motorcycling is ultimately about grace and eros, the lyrical sensation of being free of physical constraints while riding, the erotic sensation of power under the control of your right wrist, the simple thrill of speed, the balm of moving through the landscape while vulnerable to its expressions.” Well said, Mr. D’Orleans.
Chapter two, “Live to Ride,” is launched by Peter Egan of Cycle World and Road & Track fame, with a dose of his signature understated humor.
“You have to admit that ‘Live to Ride’ can sound a little simplistic as a lifetime motto, philosophically speaking, like something you might see on a tattoo at a bail-bond hearing. Aristotle, to my knowledge, never used the phrase and even Epicurus seems mute on the subject. But then the ancient Greeks didn’t have motorcycles. Who knows what these guys might have written if they’d had a couple of decent adventure touring bikes in the garage or been members of the Vincent Owners Club. Or joined the Hellenic Angels.”
“Sorry, I couldn’t help it.”
The third chapter, “Ride to Live,” features an essay by von Wartenberg. The narrative and images explain the many aspects of motorcycles in daily life for people from all walks of life around the world. From China, Malaysia, and Thailand to Bolivia, Germany, and India, von Wartenberg’s images take us to exotic locales where his lens reveals the work of motorcycling from the mundane chores of gathering firewood and herding horses to the near-miraculous of the Globe of Death in Argentina.
Dave Nichols of Easyriders and V-Twin magazine fame rolls out chapter four, which considers the connection between the riders themselves. Nichols sums it up best, writing, “Riders are truly brothers-in-arms, from the formal bonds formed in motorcycle clubs to two riders who happen to meet out on the road and decide to ride together for a while. Friendships found on the road often last a lifetime.”
Chapter five, which takes us to the far pavilions, is introduced by a man uniquely qualified to go there in “The Road Less Taken.” Andy Goldfine is the founder and CEO of Aerostich clothing and gear to handle all conditions on the road and off. In 1995, he became the first man to ride a motorcycle across a frozen Lake Superior. In 1996, Goldfine rode from Minnesota to Mongolia and returned via China and Japan—a journey of 17,000 miles.
In “The Riders,” von Wartenberg’s images take us to dizzying heights and over some rocky and snow-covered terrain with the riders who take on such challenges. But there are also the vast stretches of desert in Argentina and Baja, plus the chiseled, windswept beauty of Monument Valley in Arizona.
Henry von Wartenberg has been a freelance writer and photographer for decades. He was the photographer for the Motorbooks’ release of The Art of BMW Motorcycles. Through his publishing company, Tripleve Editores, he has published several books, including Motos Classicas En Argentina, Charles Darwin —At Southern South, Red Deer, and Alaska -Tierra del Fuego – De Gira al Sur. In The Riders, von Wartenberg brings together some of his best work in a remarkable collaboration with some of motojournalism’s best voices. The result is not to be missed.
Title: The Riders
Author: Henry Von Wartenberg: photography and essay. Features essays by Paul D’Orleans, Peter Egan, Andy Goldfine, Dave Nichols, with a foreword by Emilio Scotto
Published: April 2021 hardcover, 192 9.5” x 11” pages, 150 color and black & white images (many of which span two pages).
Publisher: Motorbooks, Quarto Publishing Group, 100 Cummings Center, Suite 265-D, Beverly, MA 01915, USA
“The Riders” MSRP: US $45; UK £32