Filmed by Chris Scott
Available From:Adventure Motorcycling DVD (£12.99), 75 minutes with extras
Filmed on location.
When I was but a wee tyke, I’d occasionally get shunted to my Grandmother’s house on a Friday night whilst my parents did whatever parents did for fun in the 1950’s (which I think involved playing cards and eating “Welsh Rarebit” with the neighbors).
“Normal” kids would have been glued in front of the tube, watching Howdy Doody, but not me. Grandma had a dusty bookshelf in the living room, full of what I now realize was one of the most eclectic collections of books within 50 miles, I’m sure. I have no idea who the bibliophile was in the family, but tucked away between “Beowulf” and Bill Mauldin’s “A Sort of a Saga” were several volumes by Richard Halliburton.
Very few probably remember Halliburton today, but he was the King of travel writers in the last golden age of adventure.
I now proudly display his books on my shelf, and I still can — and do — highly recommend them to any inquisitive 12-year-old. If there are any 12-year-olds left that still actually read books, that is…
Of all his adventures, Halliburton’s travels in the desert were my favorite, and his writing imbued in me a lifelong fascination with the arid and massive geography of North Africa.
Which is why I was so taken by the scenery and photography in Desert Riders, the latest release by our modern-day Halliburton, Chris Scott. You may recall our review of the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, the “Bible” of off-road adventure touring, also written by Chris, along with his many other books and videos documenting his off-road and off-beat adventures around the world.
One of the tests I’ve come to rely on for general interest motorcycle videos is to invite non-motorcyclists over to watch. If they enjoy the video, then it’s a success. Such is the case with Desert Riders, which was filmed in “broadcast quality” video; I was surprised at how well received it was by non-riders. But I shouldn’t have been, because parts of the video were also picked up by National Geographic and were shown on their TV channel to worldwide audiences.
The quality of the video and camera work is excellent, a definite step above the typical adventure touring DVD. The basic plot is somewhat predictable, as adventure motorcycling videos go: three British adventurers take Honda XR650L’s deep into the desert of North Africa, on a 6,000 km trek through some pretty incredible terrain, and very far from any type of help if thing go awry.
Food and fuel were buried in drops set up in advance, in the tradition of Ralph Bagnold’s Long Range Desert Group of World War II British Army fame. Except they used the stars to navigate in WWII, not hand-held GPS units.
Nevertheless, it’s a great story, as long as it’s understood that the video is not meant to provide the technical details for desert motorcycle travel, but to provide an all-around great travel adventure to an audience of motorcyclists and non-motorcyclists alike.
Remember that the holidays are upon us — if you’re having trouble thinking of a nice gift for your motorcycling friend or family, this would make an excellent choice!