The Road Between Us: A Father & Son Bicycle Route 66 by Christopher Briscoe

The Road Between Us Cover

The Road Between Us: A Father & Son Bicycle Route 66
Christopher Briscoe 
Shifting Gears Publications, 2018

♦♦♦♦
4 Stars

 

Between 1976 and 2000, Christopher Briscoe biked across the United States four times. Then, he discovered the charm of photography and gave himself over to the more sedentary pursuit. As a portrait photographer, Briscoe captured the likenesses of some of the most famous celebrities in the world as well as crafting through images compelling stories of strangers. Certain his biking days were behind him, Briscoe regaled his 23 year old son Quincy with his stories of biking across the US. However, prompting by his son and the discovery of an e-bike brought back the trekking urge as father and son decided on a 2,800 journey from Santa Monica to Chicago along historic Route 66. Along the way, Briscoe melded his love of biking with his love of photography to create an enchanting travelogue in The Road Between Us (available October 8th).

More than a mere travel or photo diary, Briscoe is able to capture the wonder of discovery. Americana is often portrayed as novelty or nostalgia, typically in the form of some kind of kitsch object. Briscoe knows true Americana is embodied in individuals and the character they give to the place they’ve decided to call home–how they build a world around themselves to inhabit. Biking across the county affords Briscoe the opportunity to see these unique niches up close, “Riding into parts of our country that till now Quincy and I have only read about expands our understanding of who we are as Americans.” Yet these aren’t forgotten people and places, rather they are fine details all too often overlooked: “We humans love to hear each others’ stories, and most of us, when asked, love to share ours. Trust is the bedrock of what I do. Without trust, my shooting style might be unsettling. I strike up a conversation. I build layers of trust.” Although not setting out to find stories, Briscoe and his son are out looking to meet new friends even if it’s only for a day. They routinely succeed and we readers reap the benefits of not just a story but of artfully framed and vibrant images. 

Briscoe’s prose is steady and simple, much like his mode of transportation. When you give yourself over to it, it moves with ease while still requiring deliberate effort: “Every bump, every dip, every pothole becomes part of our brief moment in the history of this road and belongs in the pages of this particular story of a father and his son who pedal their way from one end of Route 66 to the other.” This is what makes The Road Between Us more than a mere photo book. Scenery and new faces are approached with a sense of respect and gladness while the journey wonderfully melds self-reliance and the togetherness of paternal love: “The moment freezes like the snap of a photo. It’s perfect. Why? We’re present. We’re just here in the middle of nowhere, which, as I suddenly remember, can also be spelled ‘now here.'”

The Road Between Us is an inspiration story, one that will certainly prompt some readers to take the leap for whatever has been their own bugbear. But even if it doesn’t, readers will walk away with a vivid sense of place told through an intimate portrait of two men, father and son, reveling in their togetherness.

 

About the Author

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Christopher Briscoe’s photographs have appeared on Oprah, Larry King Live, and Entertainment Tonight. They have been printed in international publications including The Times (London), USA Today, People, Time, and Paris Match. He photographs cultural icons – President Mikhail Gorbachev, producer-director Steven Spielberg, actor Michael Douglas, among others. Briscoe is driven to uncover the common threads that bind us all – from Bourbon Street to the slums of India. He digs deep, revealing the story behind each image.

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