English professor and motorcycle enthusiast Ted Bishop is taking one last ride before fall term when his bike vibrates out of control and he is flung into a ditch, breaking his back and collapsing his lungs. With limited mobility, Ted finally has time to savour the reading experience. He begins writing about his crash, realizing that two worlds had come together when his head hit the pavement. The more he thinks about it, the more it seems that archival work is the inverse, not the opposite, of motorcycling. Ultimately, what surrounds both reader and rider is silence.
In Riding with Rilke, Ted Bishop takes us on the road through some of the richest landscapes in North America and Europe, with numerous stops along the way. Whether describing the archival jolt of holding Virginia Woolf's suicide note in the British Library or the outlaw thrill of cruising Main Street in small-town America on a bike nicknamed “Il Mostro,” Bishop tells a story filled with insight and humour.