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Last year, a couple of cool dudes on hot bikes took the long way down from the top of Scotland to the tip of Africa. What a trip! They rode powerful, high end motorcycles through fourteen countries, working their way down dirt roads to remote villages, with physical hardship and extreme terrain all the way.

The whole journey was filmed for the BBC and is due out for National Geographic this summer.The “Long Way Down” raised money for charities – including Unicef and the Riders for Health, who crisscross Africa on motorbikes to provide healthcare. It was effective viral marketing for the brands that supplied the equipment, picking up on the yearning for physical kicks that many men associate with motorbiking. Even if more and more women are also thrilling to motorcycles, “it’s the stuff of dreams – little boys’ dreams,” as one of the “long riders” put it.

Of course motorcycling is not exactly a risk-free sport. The statistics are very clear. I’ve talked to a lot of people – particularly men – who have decided to give up high-risk sports. It’s not about fear, it’s about responsibility. If you have a job to do or children to raise, you can’t just go off and have fun. If you endanger yourself, you put those who rely on you at risk, too. So what happens is that you give up the thrill of going to the limit, of testing your body and spirit against the raw elements. Older and wiser, do you go out for more adventures of the mind? Maybe. But don’t kid yourself. Better to go out with friends and complain about the whole “responsibility” thing. I guess there are some people who never give up that need for adrenaline and save it for when they’re old and grey and the burden of responsibility has been passed on to others.

FossettYou’ve surely heard about Steve Fossett, the famous aviator, sportsman and adventurer who flew his plane off into the Nevada desert last September, never to return. Maybe he just took the whole thing a step too far, going in for that ultimate kick. Well, if that’s what it was, then I sure hope he found it.

Steve Fossett (Wikipedia)

  • See Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in “The Long Way Down” on the BBC and on its own site
  • Was Steve Fossett, in fact, not a thrill seeker? See Richard Branson’s tribute in Time Magazine

Think! Motorcycle safety

Learning the ropes – Auf Deutsch, bitte

dudes – Typen
to ride a motorcycle/ motorbike/ bike – Motorradfahren
hardship – harte Umstände
remote – entlegene
raise money for charities – Geld für wohltätige Zwecke sammeln
to crisscross – wiederholt durchqueren
to provide healthcare – Gesundheitsdienste anbieten
it is due out – erscheint planmäßig
to yearn for – sich sehnen nach
to thrill to – sich begeistern für
thrill – Nervenkitzel
the stuff of dreams – der Stoff aus dem Träume sind
to put someone at risk – jemand einem Risiko aussetzen
to kid yourself – sich was vormachen
to complain – sich beschweren
aviator – Flieger
never to return – um nie wiederzukehren (literarisch)
in fact – hier: im Gegenteil
seeker – Suchender