Eighteen countries. Five shock absorbers.
Two bikers. One amazing adventure...
After their fantastic trip round the world in 2004, fellow actors and bike fanatics Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman couldn't shake the travel bug. Inspired by their UNICEF visits to Africa, they knew they had to go back and experience this extraordinary continent in more depth.
And so they set off on their 15,000-mile journey with two new BMWs loaded up for the trip. Their route took them from John O'Groats at the northernmost tip of Scotland to Cape Agulhas on the southernmost tip of South Africa.
Along the way they rode some of the toughest terrain in the world -- and met some of the friendliest people. They rode their bikes right up to the pyramids in Egypt and visited Luke Skywalker's house in Tunisia. They met people who had triumphed over terrifying experiences -- former childhood soldiers in Uganda and children living amidst the minefields of Ethiopia. They had a close encounter with a family of gorillas in Rwanda and were nearly trampled by a herd of elephants in Botswana.
Riding through spectacular scenery, often in extreme temperatures, Ewan and Charley faced their hardest challenges yet. With their trademark humor and honesty they tell their story -- the drama, the dangers and sheer exhilaration of riding together again, through a continent filled with magic and wonder.
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July 14, 2008
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Excerpt from Long Way Down by Charley Boorman
1 Where's Charley? CHARLEY: I remember the moment it started. It was October 2004, very late one Friday night. We were in the old office in Bulwer Street with boxes all around us, bits of paper, all the office equipment gone. For a few minutes we just stood there reflecting. This is where Long Way Round had all begun, where we'd planned everything, checked and re-checked the maps: it's where we'd first seen the bikes. It was over, finished: we'd ridden around the world, a mammoth journey; an epic adventure. But it was over now. The maps were still on the wall and we stood before them once more. Ewan glanced at me. 'What do you reckon, Charley?' 'I don't know.' 'South America, India maybe?' I looked up at him. 'What about riding through Africa?' Ewan and I first met on a film set in County Clare more than a dozen years ago, our friendship born out of our passion for motorbikes. We've been best mates ever since. We'd always talked about riding together; France maybe, Spain. But then Ewan walked into a map shop, and over dinner that night we decided to forget France or Spain, we'd go the whole hog and ride around the world. The adventure of a lifetime, the two of us off on a couple of bikes. I wasn't sure we could pull it off; I wasn't sure it would even happen. But it did. A late-night conversation became a dream, the dream became an adventure and that adventure proved to be a pivotal point in my life. I grew up in the movie business, but I'm dyslexic...and I mean badly: if it hadn't been for my dad taking a year out to teach me to read, life could've been very hard. Even so, reading for acting parts could be difficult sometimes. Historically I'd enjoyed success in movies likeThe Emerald Forest, but afterLong Way Roundthe direction of my life altered completely. I found myself in places like the pit lane of Moto GP circuits with heroes like Kenny Roberts grabbing my arm and telling me how much he'd enjoyed watching our journey. I was no longer just John Boorman's son - in fact my dad rang me up the other day to tell me he'd introduced himself to someone and they'd said, 'Oh, Charley Boorman's dad'. My career was now in motorcycling - albeit not in a conventional way - and the success ofLong Way Roundenabled me to live another dream. Ever since I can remember I'd always wanted to race bikes, so together with Russ Malkin, a very good friend and producer/director ofLong Way Round, I entered the world's most dangerous race: the 2006 Dakar rally - five days in January where I rode ridiculous distances at ridiculous speeds before an innocuous crash tipped me off and I broke both my hands. (I never made it to the sand dunes and I've unfinished business there.) That dream was over for now, but another was just beginning. Ewan flew in for the end of the Dakar to congratulate us all (my fellow teammate Simon Pavey had made it all the way to the finishing line). He was joined by film maker David Alexanian, the fourth member of the team that createdLong Way Round. There we were in Dakar - all together again. And there in the scorching sun we confirmed what we had first mapped out over a year before in Bulwer Street. The adventure was on again - John O'Groats to Cape Town: we would ride the Long Way Down. Once my hands were healed, the first thing Ewan and I did was return to the Royal Geographical Society in London, the place where we'd mapped out the first trip. Our bikes parked outside, I took my helmet off. The old red brick building seemed very familiar. 'So here we are again, Ewan. What do we say to them this time?' He laughed. 'How about: Hi, remember us? We're back for more.' Inside I quickly recalled how solemn the place felt; the arched windows, blue carpets and the magnificent ancient maps that decked the walls. One in particular dated from 1920 and at the bottom it was engraved with images of the old continent, names and places going back