by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
The Last Hurrah is yet another fantastic motorcycle touring adventure tale.
It is 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 hard-core motorcyclists!
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 is usually proved time and again in many of these types of motorcycle adventure narratives, the locals are usually very gracious, kind and friendly hosts.
Further proof that it's not the average citizen but the egocentric power-hungry politicians that ruin the planet for the rest of us.
Des' 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.
Publication Date: May 2007