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Long Way Up

They’re off again – this time riding through South America and on electric bikes!

Anyone that’s ever ridden a motorcycle has most likely found themselves dreaming  of what it might be like to simply take off and ride.  To go on a great long distance trip with a friend or two and simply explore the world – it’s something that we all find ourselves imagining, but few of us have the time and resources to really do it.  Let alone 3 times.

Well, it turns out that if you make a bunch of movies – including a few Star Wars blockbusters – you have the resources and time to take such a trip.  And after you have one under your belt, folks are more willing to help support and get behind another such trip – or two.

That’s the situation Ewan McGregor and his buddy, Charley Boorman, have found themselves in.  They are two hard core riders that love to explore.  And thankfully, they have the resources and following to support them bringing us all along on the ride with them.

Back in 2004, they embarked on their first trip – going from London to New York, the “LONG WAY ROUND” – as in through Europe, Russia, and Mongolia, and then down through Alaska and Canada to the US and New York City.  They brought along a film crew and created a pretty cool series that many consider one of the best motorcycle features ever produced.   They covered more than 20,000 miles in four months and documented their entire trip.  They took photos, wrote in diaries by the campfire, and took a lot of video.  From the comfort of your own home, you’re able to follow along and share their journey.  You can witness the exhaustion, the challenges, and the spectacle they experienced.  And it’s all presented in a relatively informal manner, as if being told by a buddy.  You can check it out online at longwayround.com

Then in 2007, they took off again – going from John O’Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in Africa.   Inspired by a UNICEF visit to Africa, the pair decided to load up two new BMW’s and take a 15,000 mile ride to explore the “dark continent” and show the world what Africa is truly like.  It’s an incredible journey through spectacular scenery and they hold nothing back.  You can find the videos online or order the DVD set – and join Ewan and Charley as they seem to share everything.  You’re there as they drop their bikes, face the dangers, and sit back in awe as they experience the magic and wonder of Africa.

Then twelve years later, they decided to do it again.

To change things up, they are tackling South and Central America – and they are doing it “green”.

They decided to ride a pair of prototype Harley-Davidson Livewires and have their crew in Rivian electric trucks.  So, it’s an “all-electric” journey traveling through some of the most remote and desolate parts of the world.  Rivian actually installed charging stations along the way for them.  

They ride through 13 countries, zigzagging between Argentina and Chile, then northward through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, up through Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala), then finally into Mexico and ending in Los Angeles, California.  It’s a 13,000 mile trip through entirely new landscapes, with a set of entirely new challenges.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, the pair talked about what it was like making the trip on electric motorcycles.”It was a steep learning curve for us,” Boorman admitted. “There’s all that range anxiety syndrome that you have when you first go into it, like, will you make it?”

“What was lovely about it, is that you would get to these places, in a youth hostel or a B&B or somewhere, and you say, ‘Look, do you mind if we plug in?’ and people were absolutely like, ‘Yeah, come on in,’ and, ‘Wow, what a trip!’ Suddenly you’re not just plugging in your bike but you’re plugging into people’s lives in a very different way, and that brought on loads of experiences for us,” Boorman noted.

Boorman recalls riding by a solar farm in Costa Rica and knocking on the fence to ask to check it out. “They let us in and let us plug in our bikes as they showed us around and explained how everything worked. And our bikes were being charged directly by the sun.”

At one point in the trip, they discovered just how removed they were from the world they knew – when they asked a group of school children if they were familiar with Star Wars – which Ewan McGregor starred in as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

“We were in the top of this tiny little mountain village in Peru, it was amazing,” the actor recalled. “We’re doing a UNICEF visit in a school that teaches the kids in their indigenous language… It was nice to be up there, but of course, they are living a very different life than ours and they had not seen any of my movies.”

We’d really encourage you to check out the LONG WAY UP – maybe after you’ve gone back and watched the LONG WAY ROUND and LONG WAY DOWN, if you missed those.  These aren’t simply videos of two rich guys riding around on BMW’s.  This is the story of two friends getting out and really riding.  They are riding around the world and experiencing a trip that few of us could do on our own – but thankfully we can “ride” along with them.  Chances are that you’ll relate to a lot of what they go through – and you’ll find yourself inspired to get out on your bike and RIDE!

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