Ewan McGregor to bike around the world

Discussion in 'Espionage Report' started by wookiee_cookiee, Mar 2, 2004.

  1. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    Ewan McGregor to bike around the world


    Famed for his love of adventure and motorcycles, Big Fish star Ewan McGregor is combining the two as he embarks on a round-the-world trek on his bike.

    Ewan will set off on the four-month 20,000-mile endeavour in April along with pal Charley Boorman, departing from London with New York as the final destination. The global journey, mapped out by a state-of-the-art satellite navigation system, will take the two through Asia, Siberia and Alaska on the way to the Big Apple.

    "I am excited about driving across Mongolia and setting up a tent somewhere and finding people who live a different life," says Ewan. "This is a trip we have wanted to do for many years."

    The Moulin Rouge star is no stranger to roughing it, having spent time in both an icy north Canadian outpost on the search for polar bears and in the tropical jungle of the Mosquito Coast, both for nature documentaries. While filming Big Fish in Alabama, he hit the road, riding a Harley-Davidson across the US to Los Angeles.

    Ewan and Charley have reportedly signed deals worth £1.5 million pounds for the book and TV rights to the voyage.


    Hello! magazine
  2. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    Long Way Round
    Premieres 2004 on cable TV channel Bravo

    Actors and friends Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman will star in and co-produce this new Bravo series chronicling their four-month transcontinental journey by motorcycle.

    Through six one-hour episodes, Long Way Round will show the actors in a way the audience has never seen them before, utterly left to their own devices and foregoing their more comfortable lifestyle. Their journey will take them over 20,000 miles, circumnavigating the longest continuous landmass on earth through the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, Siberia, Alaska and Canada before arriving in the Untied States. Undoubtedly, they will encounter hardships along the way, including cultural and language barriers as they pitch tent and attempt to live off the land. The journey is not only a test of their endurance, but a cultural lesson too as they will take part in a range of activities native to the lands they traverse.

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  3. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    Ewan and Charley

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  4. Alf

    Alf Agent

    Awesome picture :D
  5. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

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  6. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member


    EWAN McGREGOR gave organisers of his worldwide motorcycle marathon a scare last week when an insect bite caused a huge swelling on his head.

    Doctors in Kazakhstan feared it might have come from one of the most dangerous blood-sucking insects in the region.

    They recommended Ewan's Long Way Round journey should be delayed while the Perthshire-born Hollywood star underwent a thorough examination.

    But the Star Wars actor insisted on continuing with pal Charley Boorman and they roared off down the road to their next stop in Turkestan.

    There Ewan, 33, agreed to a full medical after which doctors concluded the insect bite was not serious.

    Ewan was bitten after he and Charley insisted on sleeping in a tent instead of booking into a hotel, much to the annoyance of the trip's organisers who were concerned about their safety.

    When Ewan woke up in the morning to find the huge swelling on his forehead, organisers immediately sent out an urgent call for medical help.

    The team also made emergency telephone calls to the British and American Toxicology Centres asking for detailed information about the many blood-sucking insects of Kazakhstan.

    When McGregor and his team arrived in Turkestan, doctors said that, despite their initial concerns, the actor appeared calm about the danger, even joking that he had already been bitten by many parasites since starting the journey with Charley in London last month.

    The intrepid pair and their team's three-month journey will take them through Europe, Mongolia, Siberia and North America.

    A TV series about the epic trip is due to air later this year and Ewan and Charley are also planning a book.

    Daily Record
  7. Alf

    Alf Agent

    "T'is but a scratch!" :)
  8. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    Away the lads!

    After three months of intensive preparation, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman finally hit the road. Following a small send off party at the Long Way Round headquarters in London the duo crossed into Europe, via the Eurotunnel, for a first overnight stop in Brussels. The next day they rode to their first landmark – the Nürburgring in Germany, a motorcyclists’ Mecca.

    On the third night Ewan and Charley managed to reach Prague. Neither had visited the beautiful city before and were both extremely impressed. They just had enough time to sneak a look around the underground Catacombs, which are normally closed to the public.

    After spending as much time in Prague as they dared, the duo headed into Slovakia via the eerie Church of Bones in Kutna Hora and through the Moravian Karst. They visited the fairy tale castle in Bojnice and stopped overnight with a family in a small village near Kosice.

    At the Ukraine border Ewan and Charlie encountered their first hitch. A delay of over 12 hours meant that by the time clearance had been finalised, they were exhausted. With a dogged refusal to accept the inevitable, the pair simply gritted their teeth and rode on. In the end, their bloody-minded determination paid off and they made up the lost hours to arrive in Kiev bang on schedule. This gave them enough time to tour Kiev and visit a UNICEF project, which aims to help and provide support for children affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

    While on the way out of the country, Ewan and Charlie visited a Ukrainian family who took them to see a working mine in operation. They were briefed about safety and then rode the train that was being used in the mine shaft.

    The next day the two riders crossed the border into Russia – this time without a hitch. By stopping at Volgograd for a few days to assess stocks and check essential equipment, the pair were able to replenish depleted energy levels. After that it was back on the road again and a quick overnight stop in Astrakhan before reaching the Russia/Kazakhstan border.

    As reported exclusively in Motor Cycle News, here is Ewan And Charley’s assessment of the trip so far:

    “We’re having a great time so far, and the bikes are holding up fantastically well to the tough terrain. It was great to finally get away after all the preparation and planning. Someone told me before hand that if we could get through the preparation, the journey would be easy – and they were almost right!

    “It was awesome when we got into Europe. We made sure we went to the Nürburgring in Germany. I’ve been there before, but it was Ewan’s first time – it’s quite an experience. We didn’t actually do any laps of the old track, but spent a while there just watching other bikes fly by. Our first actual stop after leaving the UK was in Brussels, followed by the Nürburgring, then we rode straight through to Prague in just one day – which was quite a ride. It has to be said the bikes simply soaked up the miles, though – they’re fantastic machines.

    “Once we got over the Czech border we could really notice we were leaving Europe. The road conditions change quite significantly.”

    “We had out first day off in Prague – just to have a break from the riding – and then jumped straight back on the bikes and raced across to Slovakia. We had a bit of a problem at the border there. Because we’re carrying so much kit – all the cameras and sound gear for the TV programme – we have to carry documents to prove we haven’t sold anything in the countries we visit. They get stamped on the way into each country, and again on the way out to show you still have the same amount of stuff. But we forgot to get them stamped on the way into the Czech Republic, which took a bit of explaining when we got to the next border crossing!

    “There’s a totally different vibe in eastern Europe – it all gets a bit crumbly – but now we’re really in the swing of things. We had the bikes serviced in the Ukraine and put new tyres on. We’re using knobblies for the trip, and they’ve been surprisingly good on the road, but they’re quite soft so they wear out fast. The bikes have taken quite a battering, but have stood up to it incredibly well. Some of the electronics in the top boxes have got absolutely shattered, though.”

    During the first few weeks the bikes and all the equipment have performed perfectly. The only minor incident, so far, occurred 10 minutes after they left. Charley was filling up with petrol and dropped the bike! There was minor damage to a mirror but a new one was dispatched immediately by BMW, and Ewan and Charley continued on their way. The bikes were serviced by a BMW dealership in Kiev to make sure they were in perfect condition for the drive through Russia and Kazakhstan.

    Long Way Round, is being made into a major TV series to be screened on Sky One (UK) and Bravo (USA), with a book of their personal memoirs to be published by Time Warner Books (UK) and Atria (USA). The friends will film most of the programme themselves, via individual hand-held cameras and state-of-the-art bike-mounted cameras, and will be joined periodically by a third rider who will film the pair at specific points. The Long Way Round television serie sis being produced by David Alexanian (Elixir Films) and Russ Malkin (Image Wizard TV), and co-produced by Ewan and Charley.
    World of BMW

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  9. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member


    There are some nice pics in the image gallery, and updates in the travelogue.

    Over at the Ewan Sisterhood board, Themeems posted a nice pic of Ewan and Charley.

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  10. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    Ewan departs for Alaska from Magadan (Russia)-- 01 July 2004
    Mad About Ewan has this new pic.

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  11. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    Star Wars actor rides his BMW into another world
    By Robert Crampton
    Our correspondent keeps track of the actor Ewan McGregor on his motorcycle trip around the globe

    THE actor Ewan McGregor, famous for his roles in Star Wars, Moulin Rouge and Trainspotting, is currently about as far from a Hollywood life of ease and glamour as it is possible to be.

    McGregor is in eastern Siberia, close to the Arctic Circle, halfway towards achieving his dream of travelling around the world by motorcycle. With him is his friend Charley Boorman, a fellow actor and bike enthusiast. Having met and discovered a mutual love of two wheels while filming The Serpent’s Kiss, the pair, who ran a bike racing team together for a while, have been planning the trip for several years.

    They finally set off from London in April and should complete their 20,000-mile circumnavigation in New York, by way of Alaska, Canada and the northern United States, in early August.

    “My goal was to ride my bike, see the world, meet people and search for adventure,” McGregor, 33, says, “and I’m fortunate enough to be doing all four. So far, the trip has been everything I was looking for. The Ukraine was extraordinary, as if someone had turned the clock back, with people in self-sufficient villages using hand ploughs. And Mongolia could not be further from our way of life.”

    McGregor, who bought his first bike as a 19-year-old in Scotland, has until now stuck to roads — and occasionally racetracks. “I’ve had to learn about off-road biking along the way,” he says. “Many of the places we’ve been haven’t had tracks, let alone roads. In Kazakhstan and Mongolia, we had stretches of terrain that looked like someone had scrunched up a giant ball of Plasticene then stamped all over it. It was a bombsite.”

    “We haven’t seen tarmac for a very long time,” Boorman, 37, adds. He says that on their worst day in Mongolia, when heavy rain turned the ground into a mudslide, “it took us 12 hours to cover 30 kilometres (18½ miles). We could have walked quicker.”

    In a mapless environment, where the tracks shift according to the movement of the local nomadic people, McGregor and Boorman are navigating by Global Positioning System, guesswork and, as Boorman puts it, “asking the way and going in a straight line”.

    Every few days, the pair, plus the cameraman filming them for a documentary, meet their support team for a rest and maintenance stop. But for most days they are alone, spending the nights in tents. A frequent obstacle has been swollen, bridgeless rivers. “We had to take a 150-mile diversion because we couldn’t cross one river,” Boorman says.

    McGregor has twice misjudged the depth of a river and then had to drain and dry his BMW’s flooded engine.

    “When it first happened my heart was racing because I didn’t know if I could do the repairs. Now I just get on with it,” he says.

    Long Way Round, an account of the travels of McGregor and Boorman, is published by TimeWarner in October.
    thanks to mad about ewan for this article

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  12. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    The World on Two Wheels
    Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman dreamed up the ultimate road trip: a circumnavigation of the globe by motorcycle. More than 20,000 miles and three and a half months later, two longtime friends relive their epic journey from London to New York -- in an exclusive excerpt from their amazing account, Long Way Round.

    Ewan: Every journey begins with a single step. in our case it was eight years ago, when Charley walked straight up to me in Casey's, a pub that was more like someone's living room than a bar, at Sixmilebridge in County Clare in Ireland. Except for an eager and winning smile, there was nothing in the way of an introduction.

    "You ride bikes," he said.

    "Yeah," I replied hesitantly, taken aback by the gregarious, long-haired stranger in front of me.

    It was the kickoff party on the eve of the first day's shooting of The Serpent's Kiss, and although Charley and I didn't know it yet, we had a lot in common. We were both married with daughters only a few months old, we'd both been working actors for some time, and we were facing weeks of working close together. There was a lot we could have talked about, but Charley has an instinct for cutting through social niceties straight to the subject closest to a person's heart.

    "Yeah...yeah, I ride a '78 Moto Guzzi," I said, referring to my first big bike, a heavy Italian machine built like a tractor. And with that we were away. The evening dissolved into a long night of biker anecdotes and bonding over tales of fatherhood.

    Charley: I've been obsessed with bikes for as long as I can remember. Growing up on a farm in County Wicklow, there was a guy up the road who had a bike, and I always saw him bombing past. I was about six years old, and I just thought, Wow.

    Around that time my father, John Boorman, was directing Zardoz in Ireland with Sean Connery, who was staying at our house during the shoot. One weekend Sean's son Jason came to visit. Jason was quite a bit older than me and spent most of his stay forcing me to push him up and down the drive on a little Monkey Bike. Eventually, long after I had got the bike started and Jason had spent a long time riding it around the farm, he let me have a go. I promptly fell off, but that one moment -- that twist of the grip, the roar of the engine, the smell of the exhaust and the petrol, and the thrill of the speed -- was enough. I was hooked.

    Before long I'd persuaded my parents to let me buy a motorbike, a Yamaha 100 that I've kept to this day. I bought it with my earnings as a featured extra in The Great Train Robbery. It was fabulous.

    Ewan: It was my first girlfriend who got me into bikes -- in a roundabout way. She was petite, with short mousy blonde hair and a smile that was as wicked as her character, and I was mad about her. Whereas I was a day pupil, she was a boarder at Morrison's Academy, our school in Crieff, a small Perthshire town. She and I went out for a while when I was about 13 or 14. Her personality was a beguiling mix of contradictions, and maybe that was why I couldn't stop thinking about her. She was very sweet-natured, but at times she could be really hardcore, quite a tough cookie. Her right breast was the first girl's breast that I ever touched. In a bush off Drummond Terrace.

    Then she went off me. We were on, we were off; we were on, we were off. Our on-off romance came to an abrupt end, however, when she started going out with a guy from Ardvreck, the other school in Crieff. He rode a 50cc road bike first, then a 125. And whereas I had always walked her back to Ogilvy House, where she boarded, and snogged her at the gate, suddenly she was going back with this guy. He would meet her at the back gate, snog her, and then go screeching around Ogilvy House on his motorbike all night long. It drove everyone to distraction. He was doing it for her. And I knew what he felt like. And I knew what it made her feel like.

    Not long after I began work on Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, I met up with Charley and some of his biker mates. They were all on sports bikes, and Charley had one too. I could see how much fun they were, but it wasn't until Sasha Gustav, a Russian photographer friend, lent me his sports bike that I found out for myself. It was the first brand new bike I had ridden, and I was in for quite a shock. Going down Haverstock Hill in Hampstead, I pulled away gently from the lights and looked down at the speedometer to discover I was already doing 80 mph. Alarmed at the speed, I hit the brakes and stopped almost instantaneously. I was gobsmacked. Sports bikes excel at what they do in the most exhilarating way. I decided there and then to get a new bike and to make it a sports bike and decided on a brand new Ducati 748.

    When the shooting started at Leavesden Studios, north of London in Hertfordshire, I embarked on an all-out campaign to get the Ducati, importing it from Italy through James Wilson, a friend of Charley's who ran Set Up Engineering, a racing suspension specialist in South London. Importing the Ducati from Europe made it slightly cheaper, but I had to pay cash. Every few weeks I would bowl into the Star Wars accounts department at Leavesden to ask for an advance, taking out many thousands of pounds each time. It was a lot of cash to ask for against my wages, and it all had to be authorized. They were making Star Wars, and all I was thinking about was this wonderful Ducati. One afternoon, I got a phone call from Rick McCallum, the producer and George Lucas's right-hand man. He wanted to speak to me about the bike.

    "George and I want to know how much this bike is costing you," he said. I told him how much, thinking I was about to be castigated for bothering the production accountants.

    "George and I would like to buy it for you," Rick said. I was stunned. For the next few years I rode around on what was George Lucas's bike, until I passed it on to Charley, who rides it to this day.

    It was quite ironic that George Lucas bought me the Ducati. I'm usually forbidden by contract to ride a bike while shooting a movie. The only location where I was allowed to ride to work was Australia; I spent almost two years there on and off, shooting Moulin Rouge, and the second and third Star Wars episodes. When I first met with Baz Luhrmann, the director of Moulin Rouge, I told him that if he wanted me to sign up for eight months to rehearse and shoot his film -- a much longer period than the three months a film usually takes -- then I had to be allowed to ride a bike.

    "I act. I am with my wife and kids. And I ride motorbikes. That's it. That's all I do," I said. "If you don't let me ride a motorbike for eight months, it's like forbidding me to listen to music. It's that big a deal to me. I cannot stay off bikes for eight months." Somehow, in Australia, they got their insurers to okay it.

    Midway through the eight-month shoot I rode off into the outback. I rode for several hours, camped, and after pitching my tent I just stayed there. I didn't do anything -- just sat in a field beside a tent for a day, keeping the fire going. I fell asleep and woke up at four in the morning, staring at the stars, lying in the grass next to the burnt-out fire. It was just what I needed.

    When I leave work on a motorbike, pull on my helmet, and move off, it doesn't matter if I've had a good day or not. With no phone, no stereo, and no traffic to sit in for 40 minutes, contemplating what's happened during the day, I am concentrating so hard on what I'm doing and where I'm going, and making sure that no one is pulling out to kill me, by the time I get home my mind has been cleared of any troubles. There's something about riding a bike -- the concentration and the single-mindedness of it, and the desire to get it right, taking a corner fast without losing control, doing it beautifully, getting into a groove and winning the battle between your head telling you to do one thing, the bike wanting to do another, and your body in between -- that I miss like hell if I don't get to ride every day.

    Gradually a trip took shape in my head. I'd mentioned to Charley the idea of riding down to Spain with our wives, but it was something that we were going to do when the kids were older. I wanted to do something sooner. Much sooner. One Saturday afternoon I headed off to a map shop in Primrose Hill in London with Clara, my eldest daughter. I bought a very basic world map, spread it out on a pool table in my basement and indulged in a little daydreaming. My wife grew up in China, so I thought of riding there. Then I noticed that if I headed from Mongolia north into Siberia, instead of south to China, it wasn't that much farther east to the edge of Asia. Once there, it was only a relatively short leap across the Bering Strait to Alaska, and from Alaska, I reckoned, surely it would be hardtop all the way across North America. London to New York -- the long way round.

    On Wednesday, April 14, 2004, shortly after 9 am, we set off. Ahead of us three continents stretched eastward. All of them would have to be crossed before we reached New York. With 20,000 miles, 107 days, and 19 time zones to go, we roared away -- two mates on the road together for the next three and a half months. It was a great feeling. Two big BMW R 1150 GS Adventures were purring beneath us, the first miles were under the wheels, and it felt great to be alive.

    For the rest of Ewan and Charley's round-the-globe roadtrip pick up the November issue of Men's Journal.

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  13. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    Available November 2, 2004.
    Long Way Round : Chasing Shadows Across the World
    by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman


  14. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    From the Daily Record

    £85,000 BUYS MY WHEELS
    Ewan flogs prize Beemer

    THE BMW motorbike Ewan McGregor rode round the world has sold for £85,000 - 10 times the price of a new one.

    A New York woman, who did not want to be named, snapped up the silver dream machine at a charity auction.

    She saw off competition from dozens of bidders during a gala dinner to celebrate the Scottish star's 22,000-mile journey.

    The R1150 GS Adventure bike came complete with the luggage he used for the trip and numerous personal modifications.

    The maker's list price for a new model is only £8495 but the McGregor connection saw the value rocket among the 600 guests at Tuesday's event in London.

    Earlier, the 33-year-old actor explained exactly how much the bike meant to him.

    He said: 'Parting with this is very difficult. It has become part of me and it is simply the best motorbike in the world.

    'If anything, it is even stronger than when it was new because the frame has been welded in two places where it snapped during the journey.

    'I guarantee whoever buys it could do the whole trip again, no problem.'

    Just in case, however, BMW GB technical chief Howard Godolphin pledged to fully service and clean the machine prior to it being delivered to its new owner.

    The bike was the top attraction among around 20 lots donated to the event to raise money for UNICEF, Macmillan Cancer Relief and the Scottish children's charity CHAS.

    The sale raised £142,600. One wealthy guest paid £8000 for a day at a motorcycle 'wheelie' school which normally costs £150.

    Another guest bid £10,000 to have a Mongolian nomad's tent erected in his garden to which he could invite 10 friends for a dinner.

    The lot was inspired by McGregor and Charley Boorman's visit to Mongolian tribespeople.

    Boorman, the son of film director John Boorman, accompanied McGregor on the global trip. They started in Belgium on April 14 and finished in New York on July 29.

    Along the way the pair visited areas where UNICEF charity workers are fighting to improve the lives of destitute children.

    The expedition was filmed by sponsors Sky TV. The first episode of the series, The Long Way Round, will be shown on Sky One on Monday.

    A book written by McGregor and Boorman carrying the same title has been published by Time Warner.
  15. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    Odyssey on bikes

    On Sunday, 10, October 2004, Sir David Frost interviewed Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman * Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

    DAVID FROST: Well now to take three months off work and travel around the world by motorbike must be the dream of many young men, and that's exactly what two great actors have managed to do.

    Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman have just done that.

    They set out from London, eventually reaching Europe but via the land route which means via Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Canada, etc. How many countries altogether did you go through, did you think?

    EWAN McGREGOR: Twelve countries.

    DAVID FROST: Twelve countries, that's right.

    And it was more than just a road trip, it was a life-changing experience, the result of which Ewan has just been appointed an UNICEF ambassador.

    You came in touch with UNICEF on the trip really, didn't you? You didn't set off on this trip for UNICEF, ....

    EWAN McGREGOR: No, we wanted some kind of involvement and we're both fathers we both have children, we wanted it to be a children's body that helped children, so we ended up getting in touch with UNICEF and they organised for us to visit three of their projects along the route of the trip - one in Kiev, one in Kazakhstan in a town called Almati, and then one in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia.

    DAVID FROST: The Mongolia one sounds very dramatic Charley?

    CHARLEY BOORMAN: Yeah it is, they have the most difficulties there, with the poverty, with alcoholism and stuff like that, and so a lot of children end up living on the streets and because it's so cold there they end up living in the sewers.

    And so UNICEF were there to help the children and to try and work out a structure with the government to change government policy against, you know, how they used to look at children, to change it so that it's more for the children, more proactive for children.

    Because there is prostitution on children, there's alcohol abuse on children and so on and so forth.

    DAVID FROST: And you've brought out a splendid tome here, called Long Way Round which, as I said earlier, shows you chasing shadows across the world. And people who write about this, you would say that it was a life-changing experience for you. What really hits you on the trip?

    EWAN McGREGOR: I mean, I think the UNICEF projects were really kind of pinnacles of poignancy for us on the trip, you know.

    But really just the people that we met from leaving London to arriving in New York, all the people that we met along the way, and 99% of the people we met were really enthusiastic, generous, supportive people. And one thing that we could always rely on when we got in trouble is that somebody would turn up to help us.

    And I was really struck by that, it was a real, it was a real optimistic view of the world that we had, you know. And it was difficult to come back, to get back to London and hear some of the terrible things that are happening elsewhere in the world.

    But our experience was that of generous, lovely people, who all care for their children and looked after travellers such as ourselves.

    DAVID FROST: And you had, three months of the trip, you had four months of preparing for the trip. What sort of training did you have to do, just simply carrying the kit, or what?

    CHARLEY BOORMAN: Yes, well we went to various things. One, we had to choose what kind of equipment we were going to take with us, and then we had to, we did a course called environment training by a group called Objective, and they train a lot of journalists who go into hot areas.

    And they just told us about how to react in border crossings and checkpoints, and you just had to look after yourself to make sure that you were aware of your surroundings so that you don't get ripped off or anything like like.

    EWAN McGREGOR: And out of trouble.

    DAVID FROST: And so, now is it going to be almost prosaic getting back to acting?

    EWAN McGREGOR: No, I mean...

    DAVID FROST: Or being a megastar as they say.

    EWAN McGREGOR: (laughter) No, I'm really looking forward to it. But funnily enough when we left, when we set off I'd worked very, very hard last year and had very little time off and I was just tired I think. And I really wanted a change of pace and a change of scenery which Charley and I both got, you know, in bucketloads, every day.

    DAVID FROST: Every day.

    EWAN McGREGOR: Every day - but you know, but I'm now, it's rejuvenated me and I'm ready to go back to work, I really am.

    DAVID FROST: Well it's great to have you hear. Good luck with the UNICEF campaign and so on, and good luck with the book Long Way Round which is also going to be read on Book at Bedtime. You've made it Book at Bedtime.

    EWAN McGREGOR: I know, we've really made it then.

    BBC News

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  16. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    The Herald
    Zen and the art of motorcycle mania

    When they rolled into New York after three-and-a-half months on the road, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman were accompanied by a third party: a beard. "I was looking at pictures of it this morning and was thinking 'it's so bizarre'," says McGregor, now clean-shaven and paranoid that his head is too small and his face too short.
    He is careful to reiterate that its growth was work-related. "I had two weeks of Star Wars re-shoots when I got back and you don't want a false beard. They stick this monstrosity on your face and it never looks like a beard or moves like one or anything. The bike trip was the perfect opportunity to grow one and I enjoyed it. It was a big, big beard."

    Indeed, its sheer mass had benefits. Not only were McGregor's regulation road-trip ZZ Top moves made all the more authentic (specifically the one where they spin the guitars around 360-degrees), but it also meant his celebrity stopped following him. It was a welcome relief.

    "We were very lucky to cross the States unhindered," he says, having grown a substantial beard by that point. "I don't mind people coming up and saying stuff because they like my work; I'm flattered, always. But it's the idea of celebrity which is meaningless and that's what happened in Kazakhstan. We had a great time there, but we were plagued by police escorts and treated like some kind of dignitaries or ambassadors on tour. It was slightly manipulative, so that we sold Kazakhstan, but what they hadn't thought through was that we would have sold it so much better had we been left alone."

    Interestingly, Boorman, who doesn't suffer the side-effects of appearing in Star Wars, is more empathetic. "We'd rung the Kazakhstan government to help us get visas and I think officials felt they wanted us to go through safely. A lot of the time, when the police wanted to escort us, I think they were doing it because they were told to do it. Some poor guy had been waiting for three days in his car because we were behind schedule."

    "But we didn't have a schedule," interjects McGregor. "I guess they knew when we'd left the last town and they waited from then on. There was one great policeman. We pulled into a lay-by and said hello, and he said 'yeah yeah, let's go' and he jumped back in his car because he'd been sleeping there for three days. He just wanted to have a shower and something to eat."

    It wouldn't be accurate to say McGregor went on the trip to escape celebrity; they both emphasise that it was about the bikes and the journey. Other bikers they met understood this, but not everyone did. "We got a lot of people, especially men, going 'oh yeah you'll get away from the family and kids' but it was never about that," says McGregor, and both agree that one of the most difficult parts of the journey was leaving behind their wives and children.

    "I was never trying to get away from family life, absolutely not, but in the two years leading up to us leaving, my daydreams were always about this trip. Then riding across the Mongolian plains I was mainly daydreaming about taking the kids to the park."

    There were certainly no shortage of daydreaming opportunities. Although they were profoundly affected by the people they met on the trip, biking is essentially a solitary activity, with many hours spent inside the helmet. "Being on the road highlights a lot of stuff, some which you know about yourself already, but some you need to be reminded of," says Boorman, who was forced to grapple with some of his own character "chinks", which included not listening to the ideas of the producers they met at various points en route. "You learn a lot about yourself and identify things about yourself like that. That's a chink in my character and I should learn from it and accept that other people can have good ideas," he says, honourably. "Though I still have a problem with that part."

    And the part where he threw a strop and declared they were nothing more than "w*****s on bikes"? "I was very tired that day," he says. "It was 4am and I hadn't slept for 24 hours." Then he jokes about anger-management classes.

    For McGregor, one of the most significant changes was achieving a Zen-like oneness with the journey. Until then he had been suspicious of strangers and anxious about the trip in general. "It was in Kazakhstan, coming down from a gold mine," he says. "It was the evening and it was just stunning. It wasn't a particularly stunning landscape but the sun was really gold and we were riding into a town and I just felt fantastic. It was a moment of complete tranquillity. I was just thinking 'I don't belong anywhere else at the moment but here on the bike' and didn't have any worries at all. "I think all the lessons we learned between London and New York took a long time to learn. There was a lot of change in both of us, to the point that in Siberia everything clicked and the experience of doing the journey was very natural at that point and we'd stopped thinking about the big picture.

    "You can't avoid it, when you put yourself out in the world with such a beautiful sense of freedom. Riding a motorcycle puts you in the landscape and in the environment, you're not protected from anything and you have everything you need in the panniers. You're bound to have a kind of spiritual experience with the people and with the landscape. You can't help but be touched by it."

    Of course, some things never change. McGregor is known for his open-minded approach to showing his ***** on film. He managed to get it into their book about the trip as well. "It was during a fantastic moment in the Altai region in Russia, where it was incredibly hot and we came across a river and Charley and I just took all our clothes off and got into the river," says McGregor, neglecting to mention that the water was very cold. "You know, like one of those kind of male, get naked, drum and run about in the woods things. Our cameraman, Claudio, was filming us, not as tastefully as he might have, so that won't be in the TV show."

    That the friends have shared such meaningful experiences has only strengthened their friendship and they are already thinking ahead to their next trip, which may be a pan-African epic and involve more work for Unicef.

    "You can't take away what we went through together," says McGregor. "We talked about it towards the end of the trip, you know, if we're ever at dinner parties or whatever, we'll look across the table and there'll be something that we have that we don't have with anyone else. It's like a war story, you know, a kind of bond."

    They agreed before they left that they would be honest about any niggles or annoyances that emerged and didn't have any major fall-outs as a result. "We constantly dovetailed each other, so if I was feeling low, Ewan was up and vice versa," says Boorman. "You can go in different ways after a trip like this; you can end up not seeing each other for a while or you can end up being even closer. We're very close."
  17. Darth Boru

    Darth Boru Celtic Sith

    Is the mysterious NY lady who bought the bike our very own WC ???
  18. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    Nah, too much $$$ for me!
  19. Darth Boru

    Darth Boru Celtic Sith

    First episode of the documentary series just screened here. Saw only a few minutes of it, but it looked pretty interesting.

    "The Long Way Round" - Sky One, 9pm Mondays.
  20. wookiee_cookiee

    wookiee_cookiee Moderator Staff Member

    That starts here on October 28, but only on cable, which I don't have. But I found someone at an Ewan message board that was willing to record it for me. :) I think a DVD is expected in the future.

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