Karl’s Book “Forks” Charts Three Year Ride

October 14, 2013
Byron Wilson
Byron Wilson
Associate Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

Byron's sure to be hunched over a laptop after the checkers are flown, caught in his own little version of heaven. Whether on dirt, street or a combination of both, MotoUSA's newest addition knows the only thing better than actually riding is telling the story of how things went down.

Forks Allan Karl
Allan Karl recounts stories, shares photos and gives some of his favorite recipes in “Forks, A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection,” a book that details his three-year solo motorcycle ride around the world.

Allan Karl triggered plenty of nervous exhaustion in his friends and family when he decided to take a trip around the world on his BMW GS, alone. Most were sure that if he wasn’t killed or kidnapped he’d at least get sick or hurt at some point down the line, and what would he do then? Karl was unfazed by such worry, and he upped the stakes even higher when he quit his job at the company he founded and sold off most of what he owned to make the trip a reality. There was no turning back.

“I imagined a world of friendly people as eager as I am to learn, share, and connect,” says Karl of what helped inspire his journey. “I hoped to, and did, prove them (naysaying friends and family) wrong. My quest was to explore; to discover the beauty of our world and its humanity. To uncover truths about them both and to find and learn more about myself.”

Karl’s journey lasted three years, spanned 35 countries and 60,000 miles. He left his home in Southern California and rode up through Alaska first. After that he proceeded due south and made it to Tierra del Fuego. He explored five continents in total and in the end came away with more stories than many will amass in a lifetime. A broken leg in Bolivia, an escort at gunpoint to a waterfall in the Colombian jungle and the difficulties of dealing with the Syrian and Sudanese governments made for especially tense moments, but the inspiring, positive experiences with people that will remain lasting influences on his life far outweigh the troubles he encountered.

“The camaraderie we experience among riders in our own country is alive and well all over the world,” explained Karl. “There’s an incredible global community of motorcyclists, and as I was often a lost and lonely rider in a foreign country, I quickly discovered that this community of motorcyclists were always were there to help me.”

Forks Allan Karl
Some shots from Karl’s book taken from his Kickstarter campaign page. Karl reached his initial funding goal of $22,000 in the first nine days of his effort to raise funds.

When he finally returned home, Karl was keen to share his stories but wanted to do something more than compose a straight-forward travel narrative. He wanted people to see what he saw, feel what he felt and taste what he tasted. That’s why Karl decided to make a travelogue/photo retrospective/cookbook.

“I never set out to write about food or a cookbook,” says Karl. “Yet, when I returned home, I struggled to find the best way to share my journey with others. It finally hit me over a dinner with friends: I remembered the connections I had made with new friends over the meals and stories we had shared—together.”

So Karl decided to compose his book, and in order to get it created he went to Kickstarter to crowd-source backers for his project. Within the first nine days he’d met his $22,000 goal, and now he’s added two stretch goals if additional funds can be raised. The first will be to hire a publicist and launch a book tour (if $30,000 is reached); the second will be to print more copies of the book and stitch a piece of the jacket wore to a customized book mark given to each backer (if $40,000 is reached). The campaign ends October 23, 2013. There are all sorts of extras for different levels of backing and everyone who contributes $45 gets the book. Above that there are also collector postcards, launch party invites, enlarged photo prints and more depending on the level of funding. Click here to check out Karl’s Kickstarter page.

“Of the many lessons I learned over the three years of my travels, perhaps the most important is that, even though I set off on this journey alone, I was never alone. Whenever I found myself lost, lonely, or hungry, I would just turn around and find somebody was always there. I’m amazed at our capacity to connect with people—with humanity. That’s where truth shines.

“This book will appeal to most anyone at any age. I think anyone who has dreamed of traveling the world will find this book interesting. Adventure travelers, anyone who likes to cook, motorcyclists, cyclists, or anyone with a bike, motorcycle, or scooter will love this adventure. It also has something for those interested in history and different cultures, or for travelers who prefer to hike or trek. Even for those who would like to travel the world vicariously, this is a great read.”