Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road

Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road

4.2 63
by Neil Peart

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A bold narrative written by a man trying to stay alive by staying on the move. Within a ten-month period, Neil Peart suffered family losses so devastating that they left him a ghost — physically a man but with nothing inside: no hope, meaning, faith, or desire to keep living. One year after the first tragedy, Neil was choosing between life and his own… See more details below


A bold narrative written by a man trying to stay alive by staying on the move. Within a ten-month period, Neil Peart suffered family losses so devastating that they left him a ghost — physically a man but with nothing inside: no hope, meaning, faith, or desire to keep living. One year after the first tragedy, Neil was choosing between life and his own death. Finally, all he could decide was motion. He got on his BMW R1100GS motorcycle, and over the next 14 months, rode 55,000 miles, in search of a reason to live. On a journey of escape, exile, and exploration, he travelled from Quebec to Alaska, down the Canadian and American coasts and western regions, to Mexico and Belize, and finally back to Quebec. While riding "the Healing Road," Neil recorded in his journals his progress and setbacks in the grieving/healing process, and the pain of constantly reliving his losses. He also recorded with dazzling, colourful, entertaining, and moving artistry, the enormous range of his travel adventures, from the mountains to the sea, from the deserts to Arctic ice, and the dozens of memorable people, characters, friends, and relatives he met along the way, and who increasingly contributed to his healing and sense of meaning and purpose. He begins the journey with nothing, "the Ghost Rider." What he finally attains is joy, love, and indelible memories of the most extraordinary journey of his life. Ghost Rider is a bold, brilliantly written, intense, exciting, and ultimately triumphant narrative memoir from a gifted writer and musician, who started out as a man reduced to trying to stay alive by staying on the move. 2002 Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize finalist. Over 80,000 copies sold. Globe & Mail and bestseller.

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Editorial Reviews

CNN Headline News
An account of Peart's self-imposed exile and travels to grieve the deaths of his wife and daughter, who both died within a year of each other.... Peart's story reminded me of Theodore Roosevelt's travel West to overcome the sorrow of losing his wife and mother, who both died on the same day....Why is it that many troubled souls seek out the open road for comfort and clarity? ...When the chemistry of outward experience and inward soul searching combine, it makes for good traveling on the healing road.
—Mike Fink
Well-written, harrowing and filled with just-right touches of levity, Ghost Rider is a necessary story about the human condition.
Library Journal
Peart (The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa), drummer and lyricist for the rock band Rush, suffered unthinkable tragedy in 1997: his only daughter, Selena, died in an automobile accident and, shortly thereafter, his wife of 22 years died of cancer. Feeling that he had no reason to live and unable to sit still, Peart climbed on his BMW motorcycle and rode 55,000 miles in 14 months in an attempt to escape the pain by remaining in motion. The motorcycle journey took him from Quebec to Alaska, down the Canadian and American coasts and through the western regions, to Mexico and Belize, and eventually back to Quebec. This touching book is a collection of his journal entries and letters to friends as he rides through all kinds of topography and weather and meets various characters and relatives along the way. Peart's writing is lyrical and his tale poignant, fully capturing an extraordinary journey, both as travel adventure and as memoir. Recommended for most collections. [This book is already a best seller in Canada.-Ed.]-Melinda Stivers Leach, Precision Editorial Svcs., Wondervu, CO Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ECW Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.33(d)

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Outside the house by the lake the heavy rain seemed to hold down the darkness, grudging the slow fade from black, to blue, to gray. As I prepared that last breakfast at home, squeezing the oranges, boiling the eggs, smelling the toast and coffee, I looked out the kitchen window at the dim Quebec woods gradually coming into focus. Near the end of a wet summer, the spruce, birch, poplars, and cedars were densely green, glossy and dripping.

For this momentous departure I had hoped for a better omen than this cold, dark, rainy morning, but it did have a certain pathetic fallacy, a sympathy with my interior weather. In any case, the weather didn’t matter; I was going. I still didn’t know where (Alaska? Mexico? Patagonia?), or for how long (two months? four months? a year?), but I knew I had to go. My life depended on it.

Sipping the last cup of coffee, I wrestled into my leathers, pulled on my boots, then rinsed the cup in the sink and picked up the red helmet. I pushed it down over the thin balaclava, tightened the plastic rainsuit around my neck, and pulled on my thick waterproof gloves. I knew this was going to be a cold, wet ride, and if my brain wasn’t ready for it, at least my body would be prepared. That much I could manage.

The house on the lake had been my sanctuary, the only place I still loved, the only thing I had left, and I was tearing myself away from it unwillingly, but desperately. I didn’t expect to be back for a while, and one dark corner of my mind feared that I might never get back home again. This would be a perilous journey, and it might end badly. By this point in my life I knew that bad things could happen, even to me.

I had no definite plans, just a vague notion to head north along the Ottawa River, then turn west, maybe across Canada to Vancouver to visit my brother Danny and his family. Or, I might head northwest through the Yukon and Northwest Territories to Alaska, where I had never travelled, then catch the ferry down the coast of British Columbia toward Vancouver. Knowing that ferry would be booked up long in advance, it was the one reservation I had dared to make, and as I prepared to set out on that dark, rainy morning of August 20th, 1998, I had two and a half weeks to get to Haines, Alaska — all the while knowing that it didn’t really matter, to me or anyone else, if I kept that reservation.

Out in the driveway, the red motorcycle sat on its centerstand, beaded with raindrops and gleaming from my careful preparation. The motor was warming on fast idle, a plume of white vapor jetting out behind, its steady hum muffled by my earplugs and helmet.

I locked the door without looking back. Standing by the bike, I checked the load one more time, adjusting the rain covers and shock cords. The proverbial deep breath gave me the illusion of commitment, to the day and to the journey, and I put my left boot onto the footpeg, swung my right leg high over the heavily laden bike, and settled into the familiar saddle.

My well–travelled BMW R1100GS (the “adventure–touring” model) was packed with everything I might need for a trip of unknown duration, to unknown destinations. Two hard–shell luggage cases flanked the rear wheel, while behind the saddle I had stacked a duffel bag, tent, sleeping bag, inflatable foam pad, groundsheet, tool kit, and a small red plastic gas can. I wanted to be prepared for anything, anywhere.

Because I sometimes liked to travel faster than the posted speed limits, especially on the wide open roads of the west — where it was safe in terms of visible risks, but dangerous in terms of hidden enforcement — I had decided to try using a small radar detector, which I tucked into my jacket pocket, with its earpiece inside the helmet.

A few other necessities, additional tools, and my little beltpack filled the tankbag in front of me, and a roadmap faced up from a clear plastic cover on top. The rest of the baggage I would carry away with me that morning had less bulk, but more weight — the invisible burdens that had driven me to depart into what already seemed like a kind of exile.

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