Friday, 13 June 2014

The Long way round's influence

I'll admit it, I was a sucker for the Long way round.

I was a latecomer for the show, not seeing the first episode until I was eighteen, but I was hooked from the start. The entire first episode was based around the preparations of their world trip and it was instantly gripping. The planning, bike testing and the 'video diary' style was right up my street, I actually began to feel excited for them and had nervous butterflies in my stomach when they first left Shepard's bush.

The aspect of the series that made me fall in love with it so much was that I was picturing myself as them; sat on an r1150Gs in Siberia, meeting interesting local people, dicking around with my best mate at the road side - I just imagined myself in their trip.

Courtesy of
I had always been interested in travelling but this documentary opened up my eyes so much more than before. It shows you countries that you'd never think of visiting, such as Kazakhstan or Slovakia. It reveals so much natural beauty around the world that is often tucked away, hidden from the west. It makes us ponder on our ignorance, overlooking the poverty and beauty in these eastern countries. It brings you back to earth.

What I particularly admired was that throughout the entire trip it had a natural charm to it - these were real people on real motorbikes. They didn't get the producers to cut bits out that may have caused embarrassment (Ewan falling off frequently, Charley arguing with Russ Malkin) they kept it in and shown us, the public, the true reality of the trip. This honesty and integrity is continued throughout the book, where they reveal the odd squabble or periods of discouragement.

Sadly, this doesn't continue with their following trip 'The Long way down'. Perhaps it's just me but I felt that a lot of the aspects which made the original adventure so brilliant were lost in this trip and it became much less natural. Time keeping was the biggest issue, adding stress onto both riders and the support crew. As well as this, I became very annoyed when McGregor began to include his wife in the trip -  It took away the whole 'two bikes, two mates, one road' thing away and really agitated me. Perhaps I'm being silly but that's just my opinion anyway. Nevertheless, it was another brilliant trip, just with a stronger second half than first half.
Courtesy of
I'm certain that both adventures will always hold their place on my DVD shelf and in my heart.

But the most impressive thing is that not only did Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman conquer the world on a pair of 1150 Gs' but they made BMW cool.

Now that's a pretty big accomplishment.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The best laid plans...

Stolen from the poem 'to a mouse' or the better known novel, 'of mice and men' the quote:
'The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]'
Translated, this line reveals a hard fact of life. No matter how much you can plan something or prepare yourself for it, something will always go wrong - expect the unexpected. On several occasions over the past few years, this has been so relevant to my biking life.

Since we returned from our 50cc Fairbourne road trip in August 2010, I have done nothing else but plan, research and organise future adventures. I have priced up fuel costs, estimated mileage and discovered interesting places to stay. It pains me to say it but... I haven't done half of the things that I've planned to do.
A very wet trip to Woolacombe
Something always comes up and throws a spanner in the works, for instance our 2011 Woolacombe trip was plagued with delays, people dropping out and awful weather. So it ended up being a very wet four days as opposed to the sunny week we had planned together. My France trip in 2012 was originally planned as a tour of Europe - exploring France, Italy, Germany and Belgium but due to money and people still on CBTs, this plan was scrapped and I visited family in the Charente on my own instead.

Last year we decided to drop our ambitions and plan a cheaper trip - so it would be more doable for everybody. Scotland was in our sights; legal wild camping, beautiful scenery and relatively close to us. It sounded perfect and more importantly, cheap. However, in what seemed no time at all, people were dropping out and this was yet another flop.

This is the main reason why I'm reluctant to reveal upcoming trips that I'm planning because (from past experience) they'll most likely be delayed, changed or perhaps just scrapped altogether.

However, pessimism aside, I have two trips planned within the next 3 months. If everything goes to plan I shall be leaving for Scotland on the 23rd of August, spending nine days out in the highlands. Hopefully I will be accompanied by a couple of members from S.L.A.P and other YouTube Vloggers that I have met before.

The next trip is a big 'maybe' but I'm really pushing to execute it. My 21st Birthday is two weeks into January and I thought; what better way to spend it than on an epic motorcycle adventure? So over the past few months I have been planning a 2500 mile overland trip of Morocco. We will be riding to Portsmouth and catching the ferry to Bilbao in northern Spain. After riding through Spain, we'll board the ferry to Morocco and the rest of the adventure will unfold...
The atlas mountains in Morocco
... but that's not the best part - we're doing it on 125s.

I'm determined to do them. I'm positive that there will be no more flops. I'm pushing harder than ever to make these trips happen and have came to realise that it's okay to do things on your own and not to be put off if others can't make it.

So in six months time, I may have some interesting stories to tell...

Let's hope that these laid plans unfold.