The Last Hurrah -
Book and DVD Video
by Des Molloy
Dimensions (in mm): 233x154x14
183 pages, Color and B&W Photos and Illustrations
Publications (U.S.A.); Book $20.95 and Video $19.95. Also
Panther Publishing (UK); Book £10.95; Video £9.95.
webBikeWorld.com Book Review by Rick K.
The Last Hurrah is yet another fantastic motorcycle
touring adventure tale, brought to us by Rollo Turner at
Panther Publishing, who also published
The Rugged Road
by Theresa Wallach.
This time it's two Real Old Timers -- and I do mean old --
who in 2005 decided to ride, of all things, a 1965 Panther 650 and a
1954 Norton 600 from Beijing to Arnhem, Holland.
Just taking two bikes of that vintage across town can be an adventure, much less
taking them on a trip like this with two men at the helm who, to be
honest, really do look like they're way past their prime.
I've searched high and low in both the book and the
DVD to determine the age of Des Molloy and Dick
Huurdeman, but the only
clue is when Des mentions his younger sister,
who was 70 years old. The book mentions in passing
that Dick Huurdeman is a
septuagenarian and by the way, he is also the survivor
of a couple of strokes. Oh, and one more thing:
Dick had a
serious case of diabetes!
Now you may think, and rightly so, that two gentlemen
of this vintage and with these health problems should
most certainly not be setting out on a trip like this.
Is is lunacy? Or adventure? A little of both,
to be sure.
But one thing is certain -- they are definitely ultra
I watched the video before I read the book, which
probably isn't the best way to get the full effect.
The video seems like a too-condensed version of the book
and by necessity leaves out a lot of detail and the
nuances of the adventure.
But the video does give the viewer a richer
experience, and it's reassuring to see that there's still some
incredible wilderness that still exists in this world.
In fact, one of the motivators of the trip was to
experience the wilderness before it is gone for good.
The China/Mongolia and Kazakhstan/Pakistan frontier
has to be
about the last stretch of nearly unpopulated land left
in the world and it's "the final frontier" for adventure
motorcycling. The video does include some fantastic footage
of the Himalayas, the deserts and some curious mountainous
areas in China that look very much like Colorado.
The route also took the adventurers through Iran,
then to Turkey, Greece, Italy, Germany and finally to
Arnhem, Holland, totaling over 10,000 miles. This
was all done in 2005, so you would think that Pakistan
and Iran would be very dangerous places indeed for
Westerners, but as proved time and again in many of
these types of motorcycle adventure narratives, the locals
are usually very gracious, kind and friendly hosts,
which just proves that it's not the average citizen but the egocentric
that ruin the planet for the rest of us.
Des's son Steve came along for the ride, so there was
a backup vehicle to hold some of the camera equipment,
although not much is said about its role in the journey.
Both Des and Dick had health problems along the way,
requiring stops in various hospitals and local medical
assistance and this is what makes the reader think more
about the folly of the adventure. Dick's health
finally gave out in Iran and he flew back to Amsterdam,
probably a stressful trip in and of itself.
I did have some trouble understanding the heavy
accents in the video, but the book explained all the
details. I can highly recommend the book as a
great summer read; the video is nice as a sort of
reference and as a way to get a look at the scenery and
some of the characters, but if I had to choose one or
the other, I'd pick the book.
The cost of both the book and the video are very
reasonable, so it would be
a shame to get one and not the other.
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