A newly released book, ‘Around the World on Two Wheels: An Old Man’s Motorcycle Journeys Through 76 Countries’ documents the 91 year old biker’s road trips to all corners of the globe, chalking up 76 countries in total. Those miles are even more impressive when one considers 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.
Before starting the next trip from his home in Harahan, Louisiana, near New Orleans, to the southernmost tip of South America, Karlsson took a few months off to sit down and write about his many long-distance adventures. Just released by Kalmar Books, "Around the World on Two Wheels: An Old Man’s Motorcycle Journeys Through 76 Countries" details trips Karlsson’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.
“I’ve had a love of travel ever since I can remember,” Karlsson says, explaining the motivations behind his motorcycle travels. “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.”
Karlsson was taught to ride at the grand old age of 68 by his son Paul with the pair riding from Miami, Florida to California in 1993.
“Since then, I’ve ridden everywhere,” notes Karlsson.
In the Western Hemisphere Karlsson has 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.
“They’re heavier, more stable,” Karlsson gives as reasons for choosing the Honda Goldwing as his ride, “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 which kept 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.”
"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.