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Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Long Way McGregor

I have to admit, I’m a big fan of the “motorcycle adventure”. I’ve done a few small trips myself, but am in awe of several people, mainly Ted Simon (Jupiter’s Travels) and the incredible, the awesome, and the awesomely disappeared Dan Walsh!! Yes, Dan Walsh, from Manchester, who used to write for BIKE magazine and kept me sane and alive during the hell period when I ran my own business a few years back. No matter how bad it was for me, it was always worse for Dan. And his writing is (was?) just awesome!! He travelled Africa (around 2002/2003) and later down from New York to South America, where he destroyed his bike and kind of lost his way in the world. It’s actually one of my dreams to meet this guy and buy him a beer. Dan Walsh, I salute you!

Anyway, I loved Long Way Round a few years back, starring Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman. Yes, I had a problem with the support vehicles taking away that “men against the world” vibe, but overall it was a valiant adventure and made for great viewing.

Last night, I finished watching Long Way Down, the new iteration of Ewan and Charlie’s adventures. Hmm. What can I say? I was deeply disappointed, and there’s only one word that sums up why. Eve. Why oh why oh why did Ewan feel the need to drag his wife on the trip? This was supposed to be a Boy’s Own adventure tale, two lads against the world, roughing it in the African scrub. Charlie kept his chin up, but you could see at the start he wasn’t a happy chappy- and, I feel, must have been kicking himself later in the trip for not nipping the “Eve” concept in the bud. After all, did Charlie feel the need to bring his Gran? Or his Uncle? His children? No. Because it was supposed to be two pals vs the world. And then, when Eve did finally turn up (OK, so I got some small pleasure watching her bin her bike time and again) I just couldn’t understand her motivations. Was it to stop Ewan playing away? Was it to get her own slice of TV time? Was she that desperate to live with Ewan’s sweaty fish boots? Whatever, she was leaving her kids alone without father and mother, to do a bike trip when she obviously cared nothing for bikes. It was also stunning when they rolled out Ewan’s mother for the “big surprise”. Awesome, yeah? But why no surprise for Charlie Boorman? Why does Ewan always get the golden apple?
Charlie made a few comments, but obviously didn’t want to destroy his friendship with the Jedi. I felt so sorry for Charlie, his trip practically destroyed by the biggest of gooseberries. And then, at the end, when Eve said something about wanting to do more, and going along on the next trip, I confess, I nearly coughed up my sausage. Hey, they can call the next one Long Way McGregor and just get it over with.

I confess, I’ve always liked Ewan M., but I lost a lot- and I mean a lot- of respect for the guy for what he did to his buddy. Conversely, I started off thinking Charlie Boorman was a long-haired monkey in Long Way Round, watched him progress through the Paris/Dakar rally, and now I have the utmost respect for the guy. :-)

Hey Charlie! Next time you do a trip, take me!! I don’t need support vehicles, I won’t moan about your wheelies, and I promise I won’t bring my wife. Or my brother. My dad, my uncle or my bloody gran!


rachyett said...

The bit that got me was seeing Claudio's GS being carted off on the back of a pick up. Two trips and two bikes ruined, he did it on longway round as well. Still these journies seem to have done for the BMW GS what the Italian Job did for the Mini and what James Bond did for the Aston.
Surely lighter bikes would have been better? the other thing that puzzled me was why they spent so much time riding standing up. Any ideas?

Andy Rem said...

I think standing up is a crosser thing, although a GS can hardly be described as a crosser. It helps over the bumps (the bike and your ass). There was distinctly less Claudio this time as well(a shame, I kinda like the geeky guy) but a lot more of the "producer", the "gang" and of course, Eve. This kinda spoilt it some more.

Anonymous said...

Loved watching this pair too. But you are so right, why bring the wife? It changed the whole feel of the show. The dynamics of it.

rachyett said...

For solitary journies you can't beat Ted Simon, John Bealby, Laure Lee, Patrick Leigh Fermor, two on foot, two on bikes. What does it matter if his wife came along or not? There was already a whole bunch of people, one more didn't make that much difference. The real interesting point is the contrast between solitary travel and team travel.