Posted by: Bob McMichael | August 15, 2010

The Real Long Way Round

Dieter-Mark and Leslie

Dieter-Mark and Leslie

Last week at Flagg Ranch near Teton National Park we met a man named Dieter-Mark (or something like that). He rode up on a BMW 800 GS motorcycle, which I’d hankered after since it came out a couple years ago. According to all the dudes, it’s the premier dual-sport motorcycle: powerful, light, bullet-proof, and built for tough, long tours over any type of road.

When Dieter-Mark strolled up to me with his cinnamon roll I asked him if that bike was everything everyone said it was. He answered, “Jah!” and smiled. I asked him where he had ridden from, and he said, after finishing a bite of cinnamon roll, “Germany.” He had ridden across northern Europe, bribed his way through Russia, traversed the Ural mountains into Siberia, flew himself and his bike to Japan, made it to Alaska and rode south to Death Valley – in the middle of summer. By the time I talked to him he’d been gone about three months and ridden over 30,000 kilometers (18,600 miles).

One tough dude and his amazing motorcycle

One tough dude (on left) and his amazing motorcycle

65-years-old, standing all of five feet six inches, Dieter-Mark weighs probably 115 pounds wet. He said he wasn’t strong enough to lift his motorcycle after he laid it down, which he did a lot on a 200-mile stretch of deep gravel in Russia. He would brush himself off, assess the damage (there was almost none) and wait for someone to come along to help him re-erect the bike. He carried no spare parts or tires, and only had the tools that came with the bike. Changed the oil twice. He was looking for a BMW motorcycle dealer because the rear tire was nearly bald.

Long Way Around memorabilia

Long Way Round memorabilia

Dieter-Mark is the real deal. I told him that he made Ewan McGregor look like a pansy. McGregor’s film, The Long Way Round, documented a motorcycle trip he and Charlie Boorman made on a similar route. But their course itself is the only thing similar to Dieter-Mark’s trip. They documented their 6-month planning, training, and motorcycle modification work from the flat they purchased and renovated, and featured the staff they hired to assist them in this prep work. Then, when they finally left on their trip, they took with them a photographer/videographer who rode along with them, and two large support vehicles. Their endeavor is an embarrassment compared to Dieter-Mark’s.

Many people have circumnavigated the globe on motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, feet, and even skateboards. Instead of our habitual over-glorification of celebrities just for being celebrities, it’s nice to get slapped in the face with something profoundly greater when least expecting it. Crossing paths with Dieter-Mark was a breath of fresh air. Here’s wishing him a safe journey home.

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Responses

  1. […] equally striking and strange. Germans really seem to go for adventure travel; see my post about the Real Long Way Round. The […]

  2. Long way around was more about adventure than it was about being a death defying challenge. They even showed on their show some guy that was doing the same thing as they were but only using human power like a regular pedal bike or walking.


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