What readers say...

I've never done this - start typing out the author's name as soon as I've flipped the last page of their book, that is. But what a book Riding Man is.
I love the way I relate to it - being a two-wheeled hypochondriac myself. "Will I make it through? Or will the thousands of hazards in my mind manifest themselves on the road ahead of me?" That has always prevented me from unlocking my own limited capacity for genuine speed. After reading your words, I promise to myself that I won't focus on the negatives as much as I have. Hard to break a bad habit, though!
After that, the biggest block, comes the matter of technique - clashing theories originating from highly-established schools of thought. It's like watching a tennis match - only, one that deserves interest. Your views on these are helpful, too.  I hope/wish you write a book on riding at the greatest tracks in the world. I cannot imagine why no one would want to publish/read a book in which you describe the Nurburgring, Mugello, Laguna Seca and Assen, among others. 
Finally, I'm nowhere close to being a racer, and it's unlikely I will ever have the courage or the opportunity to ride the TT in a competitive capacity. But believe me when I say, I am happy that you have. 
Kartik Ware, Motorcycling and Features Editor, BBC Top Gear India

It's a fascinating story, and I highly recommend it.

–Jay Leno

Well I just got back from my 14,000 mile road trip on my st 1300 which was spectacular and sat down and finished your book.I really enjoyed it and am telling all my biker friends to read it. There is so much I can relate to and people you talk of. What great memories it brought back for me. 
Rich Schlachter, ex-Grand Prix privateer 

Dear Mark, FINALLY got to read your book-- it's terrific! One of the best evocations of what it means to be a racer that I've ever read-- not Hollywood's stupid image, but the truth. Next time someone wants to know what racing's like, I'll tell them to read Riding Man.

–Perry King, Member AMA Board of Directors

I read it, nearly cover to cover, on the 5-hour flight home, and stayed up to finish. I thought it was fabulous. Peter Egan has nothing on you, mate. What an inspiring achievement!
–Ken Gross, Editor, Popular Mechanics, Playboy

I finished your story yesterday and I'm really asking what I'm going to read tonight! It's a privilege for me to write you. It was a delight, I loved it. I saw myself in you in many ways.... I was really there with you. Sorry for my English, I'd wish I could express myself with the same ease as French. You write very, very well. Please don't stop! You are an inspiration for me.

Sebastien M.

I bought your book a few weeks ago, and read it over two nights while I was in a tech conference in SF. Needless to say, I loved it. Kept me on the edge of my seat (knee out, of course) and gave me serious goosebumps.
Jim Race, MotoGPod.
I thoroughly enjoyed your book.  I thought it was very well organized, and I enjoyed being a virtual bystander to your adventure.  After finishing the book, I felt a kind of quiet satisfaction that you were able to accomplish your dream.  So many folks never realize theirs.  And I was really happy that, in addition to experiencing your dream, you have the writing skills to bring it to life for the rest of us.  Thank you.

Jay R
I just finished reading the book. Was sorry that it ended. Very glad you lived your dream and thinking about doing something crazy/radical myself as far as a life change.You might not have finished in upper percentile of elapsed times but in the arena of writing you are certainly on the podium--no doubt about it! 
–Michael J
I hope you're the right Mark Gardiner who raced in the T in 2002 or I'm  going to look a right prat. I've just watched the DVD of you and I must say top stuff mate. The best thing ever; we all have dreams and you have done yours. I hope your not skint any more after selling every thing and that you are well. I bet you get emails all the time about the DVD so this will get lost with the rest so, I'd just like to say take care and good luck with everything and anything. And if I've written this to the wrong 'Mark' sorry for boring the tits off you.

Dennis W.

Thank you for the awesome read!

Jon T

How can you do this!  Your writing leaves a guy feeling pretty dull if he doesn't head out and try the topic of your writings (is that a word?). I tried the skim approach knowing I was at risk for being drawn in like a bug to light. Now I have read the econoracers article twice! Four times if you count the double read on the superhawk sidebar piece!
Damn you Gardiner!!!! Now I'm trying to figure out how to fit this in my life along with an mba, 13 yo kid, marriage and 60 hour weeks!
Thanks, compadre'!

–Steve D.

Thanks a bunch for the 'Backmarker' article by Mark Gardiner on the NS750 flat tracker. That article and his next 'Happy Holidays', released a floodgate of memories. 

Robert D.

I just felt the need to email and thank you for the last few days I've just spent reading your book. As i'm sure you've been told, it is cover to cover Inspiration. I've still got 12 years before I reach your TT debut age (Although admittedly only 4 track days into my education too) I'd watched the film on TV over here (It's shown almost daily in May and June every year) but only found out about your book when it was publicised in a couple of UK bike magazines. 
Although you seem a little preoccupied with the 100mph lap, it being the subject of the very 1st and very lap. Qualification and completion were everything as far as the average onlooker was concerned. And also I can't imagine the feeling of lining up in the rain for those early practice sessions, I'm sure I would have had one of those "why exactly am I here moments"
Having put the book down for the last time the only point I was still curious about, would be how you felt when, after all that time, finally leaving a place which obviously meant so much to you?  Have you ever been back?  Or have you done what was necessary after all those years with the encyclopedia etc? 

Martin R
I just read your column in RRX from last week concerning modern bikes and their ease of possession in this country.  You're absolutely spot on. I enjoy the articles on RRX.  Riding Man is on my birthday wish list.  
–Jake M
I’m a club racer here in the states, nothing special. Middle of the pack at best. I am about to head over to Dublin , Ireland to compete in the Skerries 100. I received my official acceptance letter this past Sunday.
Just want to say your book “One Man’s Island ” really helped in preparing me mentally for this event. I got the dvd a couple years ago and always enjoyed it.  It is by far, my favorite racing movie.  I have been planning this event for over a year and had many ups and downs, it almost didn’t happen.  Having the opportunity to even qualify is to me an honor. I suppose this is “my TT. “   My nerves have been through the roof the past few weeks as the date approaches.  Everyone is calling me crazy, my one goal is to just finish.
Thanks again for documenting such a great experience for others to see.

Ryan S

I have just finished reading Riding Man.  What an excellent story!  I wouldn't have changed a thing you wrote.  You certainly have guts, dedication and have sacrificed much to live a dream.  May you always be content for doing what you truly knew you had to do.  All the best. 

Tony R
I don't know how I missed your work before, but I started seeing your columns in Classic Bike when you started writing there.  Then an article in our club rag, Vintage Views.  Found your AGV Backmarker feature on RoadRacerX.com and read through all of them.  Now it's something I look forward to reading every week.  Picked up your book along the way and thoroughly enjoyed it as well.
Just dropping a note to say keep up the good work and you've added another fan.

–Chuck S

I loved the DVD "One Man's Island." Your book "Riding Man" was even better. It's always been my dream to be there, and. I felt like I was, while I was reading your book. Thanks!  

Rich R 

Each week I have to make sure I read the latest edition of Backmarker.  So of course I had to read RIDINGMAN as soon as I heard about it.  I just finished it while on a business trip to Dallas.  
Personally, I liked the time you spent on your personal life and the events that ultimately led you to the IOM.  I enjoyed getting to know some of the locals and the culture of the island.  Being an avid motorcyclist, past club racer, and huge racing fan I most enjoyed the chapters about practice and the races.  I've read many stories of professional racing and racers, but it always seemed they were talking of another world that I really had no chance of living in.  I could really identify with your story.  Thanks for sharing it.  I have dreamed of getting over there and watching the races since I was a teenager in the '70's, but my interest dwindled somewhat when the TT was taken off the GP circuit.  My interest is now renewed and I can see a vacation with my wife to to the TT in the near future.

–Kevin S 

Good morning!  Well I finished your book a few nights ago.  I read the bulk of it while out at Sea Ranch with my girls.  Not sure why, but sitting by a morning fire, warm sun filtering through the large windows the architects favor out there, and a cup of coffee (OK so I drink Diet Pepsi!) really set the mood for page turning.  I lived that adventure with you and your friends.  About the book, I have only two words for you: Thank you. OK, four words: Thank you very much.  
– Steve S.
I’ve just finished reading The Riding Man and loved it. Bloody loved it in fact. Definitely the best bike book I’ve read by far and one of the best reads regardless in a long time.
Damn, my first bike was an XT500 “thumper” too. I bought  when I worked in outback Western Australia a lifetime ago. Nothing but smooth, dirt roads and no cars for hundreds of miles through spectacular scenery. Heaven for a dirt biker. Then I moved back home to New Zealand and eventually fell into the dodgy world of writing for advertising agencies too ... where I remain today....riding a Buell XB12R Firebolt for sanity.
 But the thought of scratching pegs around the Isle of Man scares me witless and is something I only wish to enjoy with my reading glasses on. So thanks for the pillion ride and congratulations on your TT result. As an aside, your far-to-short section on life in an ad agency was superb – very funny and very true! Any plans to write a book on that? I’d snap up a copy if you did.

– Duncan R 

I've been reading your stuff for several years now and love it all.  I can't tell you how much I enjoyed Riding Man, except to say I didn't put it down for an entire weekend.  :)  I'm just glad you finally finished it.  I'd read the articles on your struggles to ride the IOM, and in them you promised a book. Well, it was worth the wait.
Thanks for a great book and some wonderful insight into that wonderful place.  I hope that someday I too can venture to the island to watch the TT.  Until then, I'll live vicariously through your writing. 

–David T

It's a Saturday morning and I have taxes and chores that keep me from what I'd rather be doing - riding.  But procrastination is in my blood, which has led me to stumble across your website. I was absolutely rapt when I read your series in Motorcyclist years ago.  And your real-time TT lap from the video has quickened my pulse on many a dreary winter night. I'm 51 years old and I'm not a fan of much, but I'm definitely a fan of yours.
David P.

On this invalidated morning I tired of pursuing tedious household chores and chose instead to view One Man's Island for the fourth time in a year.  I was, as always, delighted to share your dream and the journey it inspired. 

Craig R.
This weekend was my birthday, and to celebrate, I'm in the midst of 2 weeks camping in the desert. Happily, your book arrived the morning I left, so between rides, I finished it yesterday.
I took this time in an effort to reflect on where I've been and where I want to go, and one of the big open questions is my desire to do a rally. Much like the Isle, rallies are a ridiculous commitment of time and money, bear enormous risks, and I have no chance (nor really even the desire) to be competitive- I'd like to ride a respectable race, but I don't mistake my abilities for that of the giants.
In any case, your book was just what I didn't know I was looking for, until I read it, at which point it was so relevant as to be eerie. Maybe I'm unique, but the project really resonated with me, and I also really enjoyed the historical perspective and anecdotes that you included. I was lucky enough to be camped with two british sportbike nuts, so we talked a lot about the TT over the campfire.
In any case, thanks for taking the time to do a great job with it.

Ned S.

I really enjoyed your recent Backmarker column about working on your Triumph. It reminds me of working on my recently purchased XS400 in my dirt floor garage with it's one light bulb. Take heart in the fact that most of your screws and bolts actually came out. I have had to resort to slotting the heads with a Dremel tool and using a gigantic flat blade screwdriver and a bench vise. Thanks for the laughs. 

Steven R.

I enjoyed getting to know some of the locals and the culture of the island.  Being an avid motorcyclist, past club racer, and huge racing fan I most enjoyed the chapters about practice and the races.  I've read many stories of professional racing and racers, but it always seemed they were talking of another world that I really had no chance of living in.  I could really identify with your story.  Thanks for sharing it.  I have dreamed of getting over there and watching the races since I was a teenager in the '70's, but my interest dwindled somewhat when the TT was taken off the GP circuit.  My interest is now renewed and I can see a vacation with my wife to to the TT in the near future.

­–Kevin S.

really enjoying your backmarker pieces on the racer x website. i was a novice pro dirt tracker back in the early-mid 80's (then they called it pro-am) and, aside from the scuttlebutt in the pits, got only what cycle news chose to print. it's fun looking back behind the scenes, and reading some different perspectives, as well as your take (and mike kidd's) on branding, and where racing is going. or trying to go. 

John M

I would like to thank you for writing Riding Man, which I have just completed. I received the inscribed book promptly after ordering it and only put it down due to life's usual distractions of working, eating, sleeping etc.  It is easy to fall into the comfort hole we all dig ourselves with day to day life and for most of us it appears difficult to escape the associated event horizon and make change. It is indeed insipring to see someone like yourself realise thier dreams, giving up the rat race, so to speak and doing what they feel they have to or wish to do. I thoroughly enjoyed your book. It is superbly written, well laid out and I will certainly recommend it to other like minded souls.

Jim K

Backmarker was great today.  Just one question for Mark....when do we get to buy his recently finished book? Does he need a publisher?  Mark is the real deal! 

Marcel F.

I have been reading your Backmarker articles over the last few weeks on the Road Racer X website and wanted to thank you for some truly fabulous articles about Flat Track.  I am 23 years old and head over heels for flat track. I am from Peoria,Il and have the privilege of seeing some of the best motorcycle racing around. I have my summer plotted out on what races are going on around the midwest. Last year I was able to get to Indy for MotoGp, but missed out on the Indy Mile.  MotoGp was really a pretty amazing thing to witness, but I would have traded that for the Mile in an instant.
    There are limited numbers of outlets to find information about the sport so I appreciate the time you have taken to spread the word. I also appreciate the way in which you are doing it.  I am a vintage motorcycle fan, I ride a '75 XS650, so I love to read about the history of the sport, and that is where most articles I find about flat track stop. There was a great article in Cycle World in January by Dave Despain, but it was too much of a eulogy. The sport is not dead.
    I love to hear about the golden age, or good old days, and you covered those wonderfully. But I especially thank you for being sure to show where the sport is headed.  I have been afraid that Flat Track would get lost in the shuffle with all the buisiness with DMG and AMA Roadracing.  I am much more optimistic after reading what Mike Kidd had to say.

Randon S.

I have to admit, this is actually my second copy of your book and DVD (which I also ordered tonight). My first copies got mixed in with some books and ended up getting sold to a bookstore. I was too embarrassed to go back and buy my stuff back. But, I really enjoyed both. I couldn't put the book down, and there have only been a couple books that have held my interest like that (Jupiter's Travels being another that comes to mind).
I think your book and Simon's book are appealing to me for the same reason. They represent the idea that you can (and should) chase a dream. This manifested in my own life in the form of getting out of the Army and deciding to attend motorcycle mechanics' school. Most people probably expected me to use my college degree and land some job behind a desk. I went a different route, and haven't had a bit of regret.

Claude N.

So much of motorcycle media focuses on the technical aspects of our sport while failing to reflect on the more interesting bits- risk and reward and the mental aspects of riding. Your approach to the Isle is a beautiful exception to this, and I think you hit the mark. To me, it is an inspiration that you chose to be true to your dream, and I'm grateful that it was documented for me to share. Thanks and well done. 
–Ned S
I'm e-mailing you to say thanks for making my day.  I got home from work tonight in my usual whacked condition and lying on the bed listening to an old Grateful Dead album, I picked up the June issue of bike and started reading your piece of riding in California.
By the time I'd got to the bit about the ex-pat Irishman named Jack on his GS and I'd gone back to look at the pic of the three bikes riding down Hwy1, I was pretty sure that it had to be the Walsh and of course, it
was... Sitting here in Edinburgh, Scotland, contemplating this year's vacation in some 25 days, it was a real buzz to read about someone I know in the June issue of Bike.
So thanks again for making my day - much appreciated..!

–Mike S.

All I can say is "Fantastic story". My hat is off to Mark for his courage, his perseverance and, most of all, for his attitude towards racing. It is great to be reminded from time to time that sport is meant to elevate us. 
–Jean L
just finished reading your book"RIDING MAN" for the second time. A friend loaned it to me a while ago--and i enjoyed it so much my daughters bought me my own copy, for my birthday. Its the best book i have ever read on the TT.  I have seen quite a few over the 42years i have been spectating at the races since my first visit in 1967.
Funny thing--i have some close friends i see each TTweek--we met on the ferry in the early 70s--they stay at The Blossoms each year. The guy who loaned me your book had planned to do the TT in the sidecar races in 2001 and like you it all fell apart with the foot and mouth. He has raced each year since--but it all went very wrong at Bedstead Corner last year in the last practise--he and his passenger had a BIG OFF--and ended up in Nobles Hospital.Dan said he was realy upset as the bike was running better than it had since he arrived on the island. He was a guest at Nobles for about 4 weeks before being airlifted home to Halifax (we are only about 8 miles from Padgetts shop) and while i was visiting him one day--out came your book
Hope i haven't bored you---and you're keeping well.    

Jim T

Although I am an avid reader, I have never written to an author before.  I have just finished re-reading Riding Man for the second time, and felt that I needed to send you a short note to express my thanks.  To me, the book spoke of a tale of adventure-philosophy.  To apply your dreams to your life experience should not so much be the goal of a life, but more the procedure.  The book helped to open up my life again, shaking loose some of the dust that can build up in times of inaction.  Now enough of philosophy, its time for a trip :-)
I have been a fan of the IOMTT for many years, and have finally decided to travel over to experience it in person this year.  My amazingly understanding wife is allowing me to head over for 2 weeks of solo backpacking/camping on the island for the races as a pre-50th birthday adventure.  This has been a dream vacation of mine for a long time, and has given me the excuse to spend endless hours of fun planning the trip.  I only wish I could take my Triumph Sprint, or Royal Enfield over, but the logistics are a little too daunting.  I guess I'll just have to settle for walking the course while making vroom-vroom noises in my head.
Thanks again for the kick-start, and continued good luck in spreading the gospel of fast bikes.
Tony K