By Any Means: Exclusive extract of Charley Boorman's new book

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MCN has teamed up with By Any Means to bring you an exclusive extract of Charley Boorman's new book, which chronicles his exploits in his latest round the world adventure.

By Any Means is the story of his latest journey, which saw Charley travelling over 20,000 miles through twenty five countries and three continents... by any means.

The epic voyage started from Boorman's childhood home in Wicklow Ireland and finished up in Sydney Australia. The journey included sailing the English Channel in a twelve foot dinghy, riding a helicopter up to Everest and taking a container ship from Dubai to Mumbai, to name just a couple of the 100 different modes of transportation used. Charley was accompanied by his good friends Russ Malkin and cameraman Mungo. 

The following is an extract from 'By Any Means' by Charley Boorman:

It had been Russ’s idea.

In August 2007 Ewan and I had completed our ‘Long Way Down’ trip from John O’Groats to Cape Town. Russ Malkin was our expedition leader – he’s also a great friend and along with Ewan had been instrumental in getting not only Long Way Down off the ground but also our first trip, Long Way Round. It was now the back end of 2007, and Russ and I were kicking around a few suggestions about what we should do next.

In November we flew to Valencia for the last Moto GP of the season. I’ve got a lot of friends in the paddock: Chris Vermeulen, Randy Mamola, Kenny Roberts – it’s a race we always try to get to. I was really excited because I had been invited to do a couple of laps on the back of Randy’s two-seater Ducati on the race day itself.

I think Russ was jealous. He said nothing, but he had to be, didn’t he? I’d be green with envy: a couple of laps on a GP bike that weighs 165 kg and produces in excess of 250 bhp. Michael Schumacher himself had ridden it just a few weeks before.

On Saturday night we ate dinner in the hotel. Qualifying for the race was over and Dani Pedrosa was on pole. It was going to be a cracking finale to the season and I was looking forward to it. At the same time, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I would do once the season was over. I was eager to start on a new adventure.

As we finished eating I brought up the subject of the Australian Safari: a southern hemisphere ‘Dakar’ with bikes, cars and trucks. It started in Kununurra,Western Australia, and finished in Perth six days later.

‘I wouldn’t mind doing it,’ I told Russ, ‘but I don’t know if it’s feasible.’
‘We could do it,’ Russ said. ‘You know we could. We did the Dakar, we could do this.’
‘What about the logistics?’
He shrugged. ‘We could set most of it up down there. It wouldn’t be hard, but then it wouldn’t be that challenging either. All you would have to do is jump on a plane.’

Jump on a plane, right. Somehow that didn’t inspire me. Jump on a plane and get where we’re going just as fast as we can. I can’t help feeling sometimes that we’re all rushing through our lives, living so quickly that we’re burning out in the process. It reminded me of what Ewan had said about our trip through Africa: we hadn’t always allowed ourselves enough time. I wanted to be sure with my next trip that we always factored in enough time to experience everything properly.

Russ looked at me thoughtfully. ‘You know what?’ he said. ‘We don’t have to do the Safari, but we can still go to Australia.’
‘What do you mean?’
Taking the boarding pass he scribbled the word ‘London’ in the top left-hand corner. Then he wrote ‘Sydney’ in the bottom righthand corner. ‘You remember back in Cape Town, Charley: you said how lucky we were to travel all those old roads while they
were still there.’
I nodded. I remembered only too well: it had been all I could think about as Ewan and I rode the last bit of dirt to Cape Agulhas.

‘You remember how we talked about doing an expedition just for the hell of it, packing up and taking off: no back-up trucks, no medic, no security? So why don’t we?’ Russ traced a line on the boarding pass between London and Sydney. ‘We could do that,’ he said. ‘London to Sydney. Only we don’t take a plane. The roads
in Africa were made by donkeys and camels; they were made by thousands of people walking. They were made by tuk-tuks and old taxis, those ancient buses with a million people packed on them.’

He paused for a moment, thinking. ‘How about this: we go to Australia by any means we can other than taking a plane from Heathrow. We pick a route and cross each country, each piece of water, using a different form of transport. We jump on trains and old buses: we hitch a ride with some long-distance lorry driver somewhere; someone who’s been making the trip for years.’

Now I could see where he was coming from. ‘I get you,’ I said, starting to catch his excitement. ‘We’d have to do some of it on motorbikes, though; Christ, I’d get withdrawal symptoms. Maybe we could ride some old British bikes: Ewan and I were going to Bantam around Britain one day. Bloody hell, I like this, Russ! It sounds like a lot of fun. It’s the kind of thing I used to do as a kid.

Dad would be off to the Amazon or God knows where, and we’d all just clear off with him.’
‘How is your dad by the way?’
‘He’s really well.’ I started telling Russ how my dad was working on a project about Hadrian. It was the usual nightmare – trying to find an ‘A’ list lead in order to green-light the film.

I soon realised Russ wasn’t really listening to my thoughts on the perils of working in the film industry. I could see his mind was whirring again. ‘Wouldn’t it be great to start the trip from County Wicklow?’
‘You mean from Dad’s place?’
‘Why not? It’s where you grew up, it’s where you rode your first motorbike.’

I felt a smile spread across my face. ‘County Wicklow to Sydney, by any means possible. You know, it does have a ring to it, Russ . . .’

Read more from 'By Any Means' in next week's issue of MCN, on sale Wednesday 1st October.

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James Keen

By James Keen