Breaking the Limit: One Woman's Motorcycle Journey Through North America

Overview

Breaking the Limit is one woman's account of riding her motorcycle from New Jersey to Alaska and back. Realizing that years of work and travel in other people's countries made her a stranger in her own, and with an invitation to meet her biological father for the first time, Karen Larsen set out on a fifteen-thousand-mile trip with nothing but her motorcycle and the barest of essentials.

Larsen's journey tests the limits of her own endurance, challenges her long-held beliefs and...

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Overview

Breaking the Limit is one woman's account of riding her motorcycle from New Jersey to Alaska and back. Realizing that years of work and travel in other people's countries made her a stranger in her own, and with an invitation to meet her biological father for the first time, Karen Larsen set out on a fifteen-thousand-mile trip with nothing but her motorcycle and the barest of essentials.

Larsen's journey tests the limits of her own endurance, challenges her long-held beliefs and values, and asks what it means to belong to a family. Through the the fields of Iowa and the deserts of the Southwest, over the Rockies and across Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, Larsen confronts questions of femininity, family, independence, and personal identity.

Her journey speaks to the immense space and over-whelming beauty of North America, as well as to the diversity and vitality of the people she meets along the way. Breaking the Limit invites you to join her as she braces against the wind, trades security for freedom, sacrifices stability for motion, and opens herself up to the vast canopy of a continent.

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Editorial Reviews

Kathy Balog
This is a deeply personal moment of reckoning with the misconceptions that keep us from functioning at full throttle. Faced with the open road and the unknown, Larsen finds that true connections exist, if one has the courage to look for them.
Publishers Weekly
Between finishing graduate school and starting a new job, Canadian-born but American-bred Larsen decided it was time for a major motorcycle expedition. She wasn't trying to "find herself"-at 31, she figured she knew herself. Nor was she one of those infamous " `biker babes,' `fender bunnies,' or `biker chicks,' " out looking for guys. She just wanted to see more of America. For Larsen, who fell in love with motorcycles when she was 15, motorcycle touring is the perfect way to experience both scenery and people: she smells the fields, she feels the storms, she meets the curious. Departing from New Jersey in June 2000, Larsen drove her Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster clear across the continent to Washington State, then north through British Columbia and Alaska-and back. While there was one emotional high point in the trip (meeting her father's family in Canada) and one mildly low point (breaking up with her already uninterested boyfriend over the phone), Larsen is not given to wild mood swings-she mainly describes road conditions, landscape, her campgrounds and her limited contact with people along the way. Buried in the daily details, however, are some inviting questions about the travel experience: why do so many tourists wander into risky situations believing themselves immune to disaster? And why do we believe our chosen mode of travel is more authentic than someone else's, just because it's more arduous? Agent, Virginia Barber. (July 7) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786868704
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 7/7/2004
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 811,955
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Larsen does development work for nonprofit organizations. She received her master's degree in public administration from Princeton University. She lives in New Jersey.

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Read an Excerpt

"Driving a motorcycle is a sensual, visceral, and immediate experience. It's the blast of air parting in an almost physical way around your body. It's the feel of heavy steel machinery between your thighs and knees as you move through turns, running a good road on a clear warm morning. It's the taste of wet grass, deep woods, damp riverbanks, and freshly cut hay that finds its way to the back of your throat. You know and experience what is around you and feel the very sensation of motion itself, in a way that you never can behind the wheel of a car."

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    You'll love it or think it needs a better editor...

    There is no two ways about it...the author really paints a picture of the landscapes and does a great job of bringing the reader into the locations she is/was in at the time. If you have taken long distance rides, I think you will really appreciate what she does because you will be able to associate with the sites, smells, and feelings the author conveys. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more straight forward account of the author's journey...well, you probably will not like this book. It is wordy by those standards - very wordy. Save yourself some frustration if this is what you are looking for.

    Great book if it is your style.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2008

    Save your money

    I bought the book based on the reviews. Wow, was I disappointed. I only finished the book because I had spent so much money on it. Look up bloviate in the dictionary and I think you'll find Karen Larsen's name there. The book could have been half as long if it weren't for all the unnecessary verbiage that made for clumsy reading. I love reading travel - especially motorcycle travel - books, but this one left me very disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2005

    Why Did The Ride Have End?

    As a female motorcyclist, I was anxious to open the cover and begin to read. As Karen started her ride, I followed along with maps, anxious for her to come near to my home. I read voraciously and felt every mile of the road. When Karen was close to the end of her ride, I noticed I read very slowly, I read small amounts at one time, I didn't want the book to end -- I realized when the book ended, so did the ride, both Karen's and mine. I have read books by those purported to be masters of description and none has drawn me into the book, into the story, living the situations like Karen Larsen did. Great Job. I think the book would be enjoyed by those curious about motorcycling. But to a motorcyclist, it is positively addictive. It answers many questions such as, how can anyone be crazy enough to take off on a motorcycle? Easy, get on, pull in the clutch, twist the throttle and ride!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2005

    Could not put it down - Outstanding!

    What an enjoyable ride! I give Karen a lot of credit for having the moxie to undertake the trip she did. I only dream of having that kind of time to ride my Sporster and undertake such a journey. But - somehow with Karen's book, I did!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2004

    Terrific book

    I have read a lot of motorcycle travelogues and this is one of the best that I have read. Larsen is articulate and intelligent and her observations of life on the road are interesting and very well-written. Many motorcycle travelogues are just a string of 'this happened here and then I rode on and this happened there,' etc. But Larsen interweaves various threads through her narrative and ties it all up beautifully at the end. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2004

    Pack Your T-Bag and Let's Go

    After hearing about this book in August '03, I couldn't wait for the release. I picked up this book on a Friday and read it straight through the weekend. Karen Larsen's journey touched my heart and soul. While she explores the country side, she learns about her strengths as a solo rider, as a woman, and as a traveler. The aromas from the flowers and grasses waft out of the pages; her descriptions are so vivid. I felt the heat from the sun baking her as she rode. Moisture in the air where she rode dampened the pages of my book. Dust and rocks flew up from cars in front of her and out of the book. I was on the back seat of Lucy. There was kindness and generosity from strangers. There was carelessness of drivers in cars and r.v.s. The other riders and travelers she encounters run the gamut of stereotypes. The emotions she shared were honest and raw. I enjoyed every page. I didn't want to put the book down, yet I didn't want the journey to end. Thank you Karen Larsen for sharing your adventure. Thank you for your insight into the human psyche. I'll read this book over and over. I'll tell everyone, including my motorcycle riding friends, about this book.

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