It started as a daydream. Poring over a map of the world at home one quiet Saturday afternoon, Ewan McGregor -- actor and self-confessed bike nut -- noticed that it was possible to ride all the way round the world, with just one short hop across the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska. It was a revelation he couldn't get out of his head. So he picked up the phone and called Charley Boorman, his best friend, fellow actor and bike enthusiast. "Charley," he said. "I think you ought to come over for dinner..."
From London to New York, Ewan and Charley chased their shadows through Europe, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia, across the Pacific to Alaska, then down through Canada and America. But as the miles slipped beneath the tires of their big BMWs, their troubles started. Exhaustion, injury and accidents tested their strength. Treacherous roads, unpredictable weather and turbulent politics challenged their stamina. They were chased by paparazzi in Kazakhstan, courted by men with very large guns in the Ukraine, hassled by the police, and given bulls' testicles for supper by Mongolian nomads.
And yet despite all these obstacles they managed to ride over 20,000 miles in four months, changing their lives forever in the process. As they travelled they documented their trip, taking photographs, and writing diaries by the campfire. Long Way Round is the result of their adventures -- a fascinating, frank, and highly entertaining travel book about two friends riding round the world together and, against all the odds, realising their dream.
Actors McGregor (Moulin Rouge; The Phantom Menace) and Boorman (Deliverance; Hope and Glory) left London by motorbike in April 2004, heading east. They traveled across Europe and Asia, flew over the Pacific and continued across North America to New York, all in four months. This travelogue of the adventure is a small miracle of persistence and speed, since McGregor and Boorman finished their trip mere months ago, and though in some places the rush job shows, it's readable and entertaining, told in the actors' alternating voices. Western Europe and North America, with their good roads and English speakers, held few surprises, but eastern Europe and Asia-the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Siberia-were a moment-by-moment challenge, even with the authors riding top-of-the-line BMW cycles. Roads in the former Soviet nations were the biggest and most consistent obstacles, sometimes in such poor shape that the authors' progress slowed to less than 20 miles a day (and this on a 20,000-mile trip). People were another hurdle, from the Kalashnikov-toting coalminers of eastern Ukraine to the ever-present Kazakh police. But the riders met many others, like second-generation Chernobyl victims and street children in Ulaanbaatar, who make Mongolia's isolation palpable. Working under tight deadlines, the duo had little time or space for reflection, and the account often reads like the description of a race. The trip was an accomplishment, nevertheless, and, in its immediacy, so is this book. Maps, photos. Agent, Scott Waxman. (Nov. 2) Forecast: This will get a boost from the airing of a six-hour TV documentary of the trip that premiered on Bravo on October 28, and the authors' star quality ensures plenty of media coverage. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.