Long Way Round: the Ultimate Motorcycle Adventure.

December 5th, 2006 by William

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If you like motorcycles, traveling, adventures, or just have a crush on Ewan McGregor than you need to add Long Way Round to your must have DVD list.

The premise was simple, well known actor Ewan McGregor and his best mate (also an actor) Charley Boorman decided to ride from London to New York heading more or less directly east. They had their own cameras (a helmut came and a video diary camera) but also brought along a film crew in two support vehicles to meet up with them at borders and take care of some of the video as well as a third motorcycle rider/camera man to follow more closely and film during their journey. It turned out to be an amazing, dangerous and beautiful trip that no one who was with them will soon forget. The documentary was shot in 2004 and aired on several different cable channels in 2005. Thankfully it is now available on DVD as a ten episode series for those of us who missed it on TV.

Ewan and Charley spent the majority of their 107 day expedition riding aboard two BMW R1150 GS Adventure motorcycles. The bikes took there shots but overall performed flawlessly throughout the trip. Ironically Charley was sold on riding KTM’s in the planning stages of the trek, but KTM dropped there sponsorship offer when they saw the route plan, figuring the two actors didn’t stand a chance of completing the trip. As a result the BMW was chosen and in the end the 1150 GS Adventure came out looking like quite the hero; I know I want one.

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When watching this series I was struck most by how inexperienced both Charlie and Ewan seemed, and I don’t mean this as an insult. Both men had past motorcycle experience and Boorman even had pretty extensive off road riding experience yet neither of them had ever come close to attempting anything this difficult. But they both faced up to their problems and worked through the challenges and made it out the other end with a great story to tell. Their inexperience really struck me because it made me feel as if I could accomplish something similar, and since seeing this film I have been seriously considering buying a dual sport/adventure bike and trying a long ride myself.

The visuals throughout the series are incredible, crossing Europe, Asia and North America, and traveling through oft unseen places like Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Siberia the duo crosses breathtaking scenery and encounters rare cultures, interesting people and seemingly impossible situations. They struggle with depression and mood swings, deal with injuries, battle mechanical troubles, have difficulties crossing borders and fight against Mother Nature in an epic true story that speaks to the traveler in all of us.

If you aren’t tempted to have your own adventure after watching this series you should have your best friend give you a swift kick in the ass and make him drag you along on a wild escapade. If you can’t tell I highly recommend the Long Way Round DVD and hope it inspires others as it has me.

-Bill Mertz

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