Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World

In 2004 Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor traveled from London to New York by motorcycle. They covered 18,478 miles in a four month period. A support crew met up with them occasionally to help with documenting the journey and Claudio rode by motorcycle with Charley and Ewan to film the journey. A mini series named, “Long Way Round” was produced and I found it extremely entertaining. The book filled in all the gaps that I had wondered about.

When I ordered this book I also bought “The Adventure Motorcycling Handbook”. I began reading that first and after a while started to break into “Chasing Shadows Across the World”. When Ewan considered doing this trip the first thing he did was buy the very book I had just been reading. He quoted the first page:

Prepare. As a rule a first time, multinational, transcontinental journey such as crossing Africa, the Americas or Asia needs at the very least one year of preparation. If you’re heading right around the world, double that time.

The Adventure Motorcycling Handbook

I immediately remembered reading those words only a few days ago and I was curious to read how they manage to prepare for such a trip in only four months. A part of me felt reassured that I was using the right research materials for my dream of a world wide trip on a similar scale.

The book alternates between the perspectives of Charley and Ewan which I thought fit very well for the type of story they were trying to tell. It’s about two guys on bikes, riding around the world, so you should have input from both sides. The book contains tons of amusing anecdotes and gives you a glimpse of life on the road. The hardships, the amazing moments and then just plain old absurd situations. I identified with some of their sentiments and it brought me back to the days I spent traveling from Chicago to Phoenix, dubbed “My Long Way Round”.

Here is their route:

These are some passages I highlighted that I really liked:

Ewan: But accompanying the moments that tugged at our heartstrings there were times of great wonder. And, every so often, flashes of magic. Like when we were riding at the end of the day and the sun, setting in the west, warmed our backs and threw our shadows ahead of us on the road. Just chasing our shadows as we headed east. All the way round the world to get home.

Page 92

Charley: ‘Again!’ he said, smiling broadly and holding up his camera. He’d missed the shot and wanted another chance to take a picture. I revved the Beamer, a guard lifted the barrier and I roared through the border once more. It doesn’t get much better than this, I thought as I popped an even longer wheelie into the world’s largest country. First the night of guns and vodka with Igor; now in all likelihood I’d become the first person to execute a motocross stunt into the former USSR. Roll on Russia.

Page 132

Ewan: A short while later, the mud ended and the road returned to tarmac, albeit of the heavily potholed variety. ‘So far, so good,’ I said. ‘But I can’t help feeling this is lulling us into a false sense of security.’ For about fifty miles, I enjoyed just gliding along, dodging potholes as if I was playing some kind of arcade game. I entered that tranquil space where everything slowed down and thoughts floated through my mind as we slipped along on a clear, crisp desert morning, making memories that would last a lifetime.

Page 152

Charley: ‘Our first river crossing,’ I said nervously. We’d been dreading rivers ever since we’d left London. ‘Better that I walk it. Then we’ll known how fast and how deep it is.’ Enter the water, I stepped cautiously across the riverbed.
‘It’s shallow here,’ I shouted. ‘We should be okay.’
‘Hey! Look at that!’ Ewan shouted. A Russian motorcycle was phut-phutting along the far riverbend. When it came to the bridge it simple turned on to the desk and casually crossed over, while I stood in the water below with no trousers on, looking a right idiot.

Page 220

Ewan:[A] few hours later, we were overtaken by a couple on a two-bit yellow Russian bike that was moving much faster than ours. As it passed, I looked up and saw a little Russian jeep with a trailer racing along parallel to us. He’s not bouncing around, I thought, and there’s no cloud of dust behind him. Then it dawned on me: he was on a road. I’d forgotten they existed. I’d assumed we’d be riding on gravel and sand to Ulaanbaatar. The world was immediately a better place.

Page 205

If you are looking for an interesting tale or some inspiration for your own travels, be they long or short check it out at the Amazon link at the top of the page.

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