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.


  1. As always Tom, HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD!

    Making BMW cool really was quite an achievement, I bet someone at KTM kicks themselves every day over not giving them the bikes.

  2. Cheers man!

    Yeah I bet, I remember reading somewhere that Ewan and Charley sent KTM a letter when they got back from their rtw trip. They basically said 'told you so' - KTM never replied....