Strip away the speed, horsepower and expensive support from The Long Way Down and you get Gaurav Jani, riding an 18-horsepower Enfield Bullet from Mumbai to the Changthang Plateau. That's "northern plateau" in Tibetan, 3100 miles north of the border-roughly comparable to riding from Los Angeles to Boston on a Honda Trail 90, only harder. Roads are rarely recognizable as such, and the average altitude is 15,000 feet. All this on a modern reproduction of a British classic packing 220 pounds of gear and 9 gallons of fuel-enough to cover 560 miles at a crack, except when there's not enough oxygen for internal combustion, and Jani has to push. Next time the Sunday-morning ride gets a little tough, remember: Tough is a relative term.
Touring India's northernmost state is tough by any standard. Especially for a one-man film unit: Set up the shot, roll the film, ride the bike, go back for the camera and head on down the road again. Despite a total lack of experience behind a professional digital video camera, Jani's honest eye gives us a look at 11,000 square miles of astringent, high-desert beauty between the Karakoram Range and the Himalayas
Though it's not as flashy as watching Ewan and Charlie take the long way, Riding Solo makes up for its stripped-down production values with 94 minutes of honesty and pure heart. The 31-year-old Jani is no Spielberg, but if you'd like to see what it takes to ride motorcycling's answer to a black-powder musket to places most people don't have the grit to reach at all-much less to film-this one is well worth the price of admission.
Riding Solo To The Top Of The World DVD
Contact: Dirt Track Productions
Verdict 4 stars out of 5
One man's breathtakingly beautiful, 3100-mile ride of a lifetime.