In the TV mini series Long Way Round in 2004, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman rode from London to New York City on motorcycles. They were of course accompanied by a film team and two off-road vehicles packed with equipment, and had already received specialist training in off-road riding, the Russian language and motorbike maintenance.
But then in fairness, who would even think of embarking on a journey of this magnitude without making such thorough preparations? Who anyone really be mad enough to set out on such a venture with nothing more than their bikes, two budget tents and whatever else they could fit into their panniers?
Well as it happens, a couple of young men from the North West seaside resort of Morecambe did just that.
Kurtis Murphy and his childhood friend Dave (better known as ‘Numbskull’) climbed aboard their motorbikes one fine summer morning and set out on an ambitious expedition that would take them across the barren wastes of Siberia and the searing deserts of Kazakhstan – not to mention all the bits in between – with not a spare tyre between them and only a couple of cheap tents for shelter.
Along the way they were helped by the Russian Mafia, robbed at gunpoint by corrupt Eastern European officials and met complete strangers who showed them more kindness and generosity than they had ever experienced.
The boys wanted excitement and fun; what they got was a coming of age adventure that neither of them will ever forget.
Intermingled with the adventures and escapades are author Kurtis’ often poignant observations on the people they met and the sights they saw over the course of their epic journey.
This was very much a voyage of discovery for Kurtis, a young man whose travel experience up to that point had been limited, and his thoughts on the culture and character of some of the countries they passed through are both heartfelt and charming.
Some of the situations the two young men found themselves in were frightening, some were exhilarating, and some were the kind of experiences that change one’s way of thinking forever. All are engagingly described by Kurtis with honesty, warmth and humour.
This is a book that anyone with an interest in motorbikes will love; it is also a book for anyone with any interest in travel, adventure, human relationships and triumph in the face of adversity.
In short, this is a thumping good story that is guaranteed to keep readers turning the page in anticipation.