Long Way Round Book Review…

1 09 2011

Charlie and Obi Wan...

My hotel in Ontario had [I guess still has] craptacular internet so I grabbed a couple books to read including this one. In theory I should have loved it as I like Ewan McGregor, I love dual sport motorcycles and round the world [RTW] bike tour reports. Sadly this book is as crappy as the internet that forced me into a reading binge.

Some surprising things:

  • there is very little motorcycle content in this book’s 365 pages
  • there is very little travel content in this book
  • Getting 1.3 million dollars to fund your RTW bike tour is a bummer
  • Camping in a tent is scarey

So if this book isn’t about a RTW motorcycle tour what is it about? Well mostly it’s about how rich famous privileged buddies who are totally out of touch with the real world deal with their fame and wealth. In that respect it’s actually reasonably interesting. You get to hear how Ewan feels about attention from fans and what he does in various situations when he is recognized.  If you love Ewan and/or are fascinated with how stars interact with their public this book might be right up your alley.

OTOH if you like RTW motorcycle trip reports you are going to be disappointed by a lack of motorcycle and travel content – except in the simplest and most rudimentary sense. Beyond that the writing itself is mediocre and the level of expression is 1st year university level – very simple and basic.

I couldn’t sympathize much at the descriptions of how tough it was to cross borders with only three chase vehicles and 4 support staff including a doctor and a local facilitator. When they explain how harsh it was to set up a tent and sleep on the ground away from 5 star accommodation my eyes rolled back in my head.

We just got paid to ride motorcycles round the world!

I haven’t seen the DVD/TV episodes. I suspect they would be more entertaining since I could geek out on the dual sport motorcycle riding bits. I already have their second book Long Way Down about their ride across Africa. I hope it’s better and I’ll give it a shot, but I am not optimistic.

If you want to read some truly entertaining RTW reports for free just jump over to the ADV Rider.com site. Real people riding their bikes and dealing with what comes on their own with a budget of a few thousands of dollars and no support staff to take care of stuff.


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14 responses

1 09 2011
Val Garou

Huh. This is not really surprising, but a little disappointing to hear. One gets a bit of this vibe from McGregor in the film. There’s an early moment where they have some difficulty with funding and I became agitated at the pseudo-drama/real indignation on their part because one figures he could very easily pay for the whole thing with only a fraction of his Star Wars money.

Regardless, though, the DVDs are VERY good and feature a wealth of riding scenery and bike porn for you to geek out on. Try not to let the hidden costs of the flick bog you down. It’s a worthwhile sacrifice for the high production quality.

1 09 2011
perthcyclist

I haven’t seen the whole TV series, but the episodes I did see were kind of entertaining. The bikes are great machines, and there’s a bit of (unintentional) slapstick to it when they are struggling to handle them on various terrain. I think the book would annoy me too!

1 09 2011
thelazyrando

I think the book is just the wrong format for two actors to express themselves. I had read a review of a DVD by Ted Simon [famous RTW motorbike author] where the reviewer said he was an awesome author, but came off poorly on film.

1 09 2011
brian from Ottawa

Hey vik, you in Ottawa?
B

2 09 2011
szmagi

I think the TV series is quite good (Long way round much better then Long way down), lot’s of road and off-road riding, quite a lot of local people, generally it’s a decent national geographic style adventure documentary.

2 09 2011
Ben

The books are more like companion pieces to the series. I would watch the series before you read the books.

2 09 2011
thelazyrando

I’m in Picton.

2 09 2011
thelazyrando

Sounds like it’s best to watch the TV series and skip the books entirely. They aren’t worth the $$ and I don’t see what they add.

2 09 2011
Brian Ogilvie

I agree with others that the video series is engaging. I haven’t read the book, and after your review I have no interest in doing so. But you should give the videos a try. If you want introspective writing from a (minor) celebrity, try Neil Peart’s book “The Masked Rider” on cycling through Cameroon.

2 09 2011
Taz

Haven’t read the book……I’ve seen both series…you can get them via Netflix…I thought they were entertaining…a national geographic quality to them..Long Way Around was the better, IMHO…look, I know it’s Ewan McGregor and he has the cash, time, connections, etc to do this but it is still entertaining and fun to watch…the whole family watched them..even my 17yr old daughter!! geez, that counts for something!!

2 09 2011
thelazyrando

I wasn’t planning to hunt down the TV shows, but in the interests of fairness and a comprehensive review I will. I hope to be writing about a positive experience with the film footage.

4 09 2011
thelazyrando

Sharon checked Netflix Canada and I checked iTunes for the Long Way Around TV series with no luck. I’ll have to track down a DVD.

4 09 2011
Long Way Round Trailers… « The Lazy Randonneur

[...] dug around and watched these trailers for Long Way Round and I can see how the TV show format would be a lot more entertaining than the book I reviewed. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

15 09 2011
Long Way Down Book Review « The KLR650 Blog

[...] You can read my review of the Long Way Round book that Ewan & Charlie wrote about their RTW BMW …. Coles Notes version of that review is I didn’t like the book as it was poorly written and had very little motorcycle or travel content. I had bought this book about their motorcycle tour down the African continent at the same time as the first book. If I hadn’t I would have skipped it, but since it was in my luggage and I was on the road I figured I’d give it a shot. I made it about halfway through before I stopped reading it. There is no improvement in writing style or content from the first book. I hear folks enjoyed the TV shows that are available on DVD. I haven’t seen them so I can’t give you my opinion, but if you are in a book shop thinking about buying either of these books do yourself a favour and don’t bother. You’ll be much happier with one of Ted Simon’s motorcycle tour books. [...]

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