RIDING SOLO TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD
A movie made in the spirit of adventure becoming an adventure of spirit.
I received a copy of a motorcycle travel movie a while back. I was asked to review it on my podcast. I was told it was from India. For the longest time I have wanted to ride a motorbike around India so I was very excited to get this movie and comment on it. I will tell you this right now, this movie is much more than I expected. I have reviewed other motorcycle travel movies and as we all know, some can hold our interest and some we fast forward through. And then there are those rare few that you can watch again and again. This is a film you will watch more than once.
Riding Solo To The Top Of The World is a one man production from start to finish in all aspects; planning, riding and filming. Gaurav Jani packed his camping gear and camera equipment, loaded it on his motorcycle and headed to the Himalayas. Now, this isn’t some ordinary dual-sport or adventure tourer he loaded everything onto…oh no. It is an Indian made 350 CC single cylinder Enfield road bike. This motorcycle has hardly changed in sixty years of production, proving you can’t keep a good design down. Gaurav had named his motorcycle ‘Loner’, reflecting what he says is much like his own personality and this trip.
The film starts with Gaurav sitting down in front of the camera telling us that he is about to “kickstart the most exciting journey of (his) life”. By the look on his face and the tone of his voice, you know he didn’t sleep that night.
The journey goes from Mumbai, India into the Himalayas to the Changthang Plateau on the Chinese border. The route will take Gaurav and Loner over the highest roads and mountain passes in the world.
As his ride begins in Mumbai, one thing stands out, the quality of the filming. I have seen motorcycle travel movies made with big crews, multiple cameras, chase vehicles and some even with big movie stars that don’t have this quality. It is truly amazing for a one man show.
As Gaurav makes his journey not only does the scenery change but you can see the whole film change from a motorcycle adventure to an adventure on a motorcycle. Through villages where he stops to have modifications made to Loner, to once in twenty year festivals to days of rest in remote Himalayan outposts. I was mesmerized by the scenery and the tales that were being told. Crossing mountain passes at over 17,000 feet!!! I don’t think my modern motorcycles would make that, yet that little over burdened 350 single kept chugging along. And so did Gaurav. At times pushing his motorcycle up a rocky path, crossing rivers where the bridge was out, sleeping in the freezing Himalayan weather and dealing with altitude sickness,he could not give up. In the film he tells us that turning back would be easy, but that is not what he is here for.
The scenery is breathtaking. From wooded mountains and villages to desolate high mountains with nary a tree in sight. At times you feel like Gaurav is riding on the moon. But the scenery is only a part of this film. As Gaurav continues on he spends more time in small, for lack of a better word, outposts. Shepherd camps. Nomadic people that herd sheep up and down the mountains. These people become friends and take him in. It’s almost becoming a National Geographic special! Each time Gaurav leaves an outpost he takes something of the people with him and leaves something of himself behind.
It is a spectacular trip built on an adventurous spirit and became an adventure of spirit. Gaurav will never forget the people he has met along the way and they will not forget the young man that came all that way on his motorcycle. When you watch his film, you won’t forget him either.
The film is available through Gaurav’s website www.dirttrackproductions.com I am eagerly awaiting his latest film, ‘One Crazy Ride’ and if it is nearly as entertaining as ‘Riding Solo…’, well, it will be worth the wait.