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Zen and the Art of the Long Way Round

On a quiet Sunday morning, I was surfing the cable channels for some background noise. When to my delight, I come across a couple of gentlemen riding their BMW enduro motorcycles from London to New York by going east through Russia. Yes Russia. This of course had me captivated how someone could plan and organize such a feat, as well as, has the stamina to handle a three-month trek through hostile riding conditions.

To my further surprise the two riders were Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor ? both actors by trade.The cable channel was running a marathon on the entire journey. Watching this motorcycling adventure quickly became addicting. Like watching episodes of 24 on DVD, you just cannot look away.As Ewan McGregor stated, ultimately, the entire documentary is about 2 blokes riding their motorbikes. The concept is as pure and simple as that ? very Zen like.

The journey took months of planning. From getting visas to getting in shape physically and practicing riding their donated BMW R 1150 GS Adventure on rough terrain.Watching the preparation unfold, I was curious as to who was paying for this adventure. Sure both riders have enough money between themselves to have covered the costs and more.But they decided to make this a charity event. Proceeds from the documentary, books, and the selling of the bikes would all be donated to charities such as, Unicef, Macmillan Cancer Relief, and CHAS ? Children's Hospice Association Scotland.

Manufacturers such as, BMW, Snap-On, Arai, Fox, etc. sponsored the event.Charley and Ewan looked at several motorcycles from which to pick for their adventure. They first entertained the idea of using the KTM motorcycle. KTM even sent in a consultant that road the treacherous part of Siberia that was t o be traveled by Ewan and Charley.

The KTM consultant had his doubts in the riders succeeding with their adventure. KTM decided to abruptly pull their sponsorship of the ride and no longer offered up the KTM bikes. KTM corporate handled this situation in a very unprofessional and rude manner.

In hindsight, this has got to be the biggest marketing blunder ever undertaken. Whoever made that decision at KTM should be fired. Why do I say this, well BMW comes to the rescue and donates two of their sweet R 1150 GS Adventure Enduro motorcycles. The amount of incredibly positive advertising this created for BMW far outweighed the costs of donating the two bikes.KTM , what a very dumb move on your part.

Now when I see a KTM sitting in a show room, I kind of laugh at it, thinking of their blunder. Needless to say, I really want to buy a BMW enduro motorcycle now and be like Charley and Ewan.As I watch the journey unfold, what really became apparent is that you really begin to see the real character of these two riders. These guys love riding motorcycles and meeting new peoples and seeing the world. As Ewan mentioned, we are all quite the same.

Their personalities made me really respect both Charley and Ewan. They are very grounded; their focus on visiting charities throughout the ride was very touching and put things in perspective. Watching the documentary unfold, you really started to end up liking these chaps. Ewan's remarks how everyplace looked like Scotland and that the Scots created the world was very funny.

This "Long Way Round" adventure took place in June 2004. Since then, I read that the BMW R 1150 GS motorcycles used were auctioned off for twenty thousand dollars and the proceeds donated to charity.All of the proceeds from the DVD and book sales go to charity. Very admirable that these guys could take their passion for motorcycling and turn in into a life changing event that not only benefited them, but also helped so many others through their charitable giving.This is one of those adventures that can really impact your life and how you view the state of things.

I am not only amazed by the technical aspects of the journey, the motorcycle, riding gear, mechanical procedures.The human side of the story and the Zen-like experience these rider went through on their journey also amazes me.So as not to summarize the entire documentary, I encourage you to check it out for yourselves. Do it soon, Ewan McGregor is planning another ride from London to the southern tip of Africa.

I bet he won't be riding a crappy KTM, but rather the 2005 motorcycle of the year, the BMW R 1200 GS.At the remote chance Ewan or Charley stumble across this organic review of their adventure, I just want to say thanks.

.Contributing author to Cycle Solutions and Kingpin Cruisers

By: Jim Noss

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