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20,000 miles in a sidecar, with the wife!

By Dan Aspel -

Touring & travel

 26 January 2011 16:31

> Motorcycling couple currently making TV show about relationships – while touring UK in a sidecar
> They've already travelled 20,000 miles through the Americas
> MCN gets the inside story

After meeting on a dating website, Mike and Alanna Clear decided they would investigate how marriages work by riding through North and South America in a Ural sidecar and interviewing couples. As you do.

They also decided to get scientists to study their brains before and after the journey to see if their attraction had suffered. Mike explains: "Before we left we both did an MRI brain scan in which the scientists involved examined three parts of our brain to see if we were in love with each other. The idea was to examine the parts of the mind responsible for sex, romance and attachment.

"When we left the results showed us that we were very much in love and all parts of the brain were firing on all cylinders. We visited another brain scanner in New York after the trip was finished and the bad news was that the sex and romance parts of my brain were much, much less active than they were before.

"It’s the whole aspect of being on the road, the attachment part got stronger and stronger, but the rest didn’t. The scientist explained to me that our relationship had become like one of an 80-year-old couple. Alanna was obviously upset by this – I just found it quite amusing!"

The journey didn't start well. Mike said: 'Unfortunately Alanna failed her test the day before we left, which made the whole thing pretty stressful as the original idea was that we’d share the driving. It was very much a make or break test of our relationship. We rarely had a chance to be away from one another, we were on top of each other, almost literally with the sidecar.

"It was all pretty intense, particularly at the beginning of the journey in Alaska. We both felt under enormous, self-imposed pressure to get stuff done and we both struggled with it. I remember one moment very clearly, sitting in a pick-up truck outside a bar in Anchorage where Alanna felt like giving up and wanted to go home and was having a terrible time. I think it was really because we hadn’t worked out what our roles were.

"The big lesson was to work out that I would be doing the filming and the driving and she would be doing the interviewing and researching. We ended up both making it work, but it was a pretty tough beginning, and there were difficult times throughout.

"Luckily there were good times too. In Oregon we stumbled upon a couple who were land-sailing across the desert which led to a really spectacular night out under the stars in a tent. We had a BBQ with this couple and lay under the stars listening to Dean Martin as we cruised around in the dark beneath this land sail. It was just a fantastic thing and a very romantic night out. And to be honest just camping in general was great, I think it’s very underrated as a romantic pastime.

"We’re doing the same thing around the UK this month and I don’t think we’d be doing that if the trip hadn’t brought us closer together. Riding in the UK in January has its challenges though… at least the Ural is a Siberian machine designed to handle Russian winters!"

For more information visit: www.goingthedistanceuk.com