Alone on the open road…

So motorcycling heroes, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman have completed another adventure – this time biking the length of Africa. Like their previous jourrney though, this has been done with comprehensive back-up. This is no seat of the pants jaunt, the whole thing has been filmed by motorcycle outriders, and they had a number of support vehicles. On the news report I saw, there was even a flunky to wash dust out of their eyes.

Now this is a shame, as the whole point of a road-trip, especially a motorcycle road-trip is the freedom of the open road. Not to ride in a convoy with support.

This does throw up the problems though of filming a journey. You either have to film it yourself making it all but unwatchable due to the low production values, or take along a film crew and the attendent gear and support vehicles. I have done some filming and the endlessly repeated longshots do just ruin the spirit of a journey.

There are different ways of getting around this. Firstly you can fess up, and make the film and support crew into part of the film. This is the option taken by Jeremy Clarkson is his utterly unprincipled, yet stupendously watchable drunken drive in a 4WD to the North Pole. Alternatively you can still pretend that you are travelling virtually on your own and make out that you are the last action hero – apparantly the technique used by Bear Grylls in Born Survivor according to the Telegraph(even though Grylls is actually a columnist for the Daily Telegraph). Discovery Channel (who screen the show as Man vs Wild in the US) seem to admit that some of the scenes were faked for TV, according to the BBC.

Now I am sure that all Grylls has done is buckle to the pressure of filming good tv, but it is nice to know that there are some people out there ‘doing it for real’. Grant & Susan Johnson describe themselves as ‘Consultant Bikers’. They have a website called Horizons Unlimted which describes their 14 years of travels.

The site also has an extensive blog section for other travellers and links to other motorcycle traveller’s websites. Just dabbling through here and you will find any number of two-wheel lunatics out there living the dream, such as Sean Howman who rode a bike from Chennai in India to Charing Cross in London and Lois Pryce who has ridden the length of Africa and also the Americas. This site is truly a goldmine for adventurous travellers.

I wonder what they would all make of Ewan and Charley’s efforts!

Words & picture © Steve Davey 2007

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