‘The Ride…’ is one of the GlobeBusters films and as such, it can’t help but act as a promo for the London to Beijing tour they offer. Refreshingly though, it’s an extremely well put together film and if you’re after entertainment or another shot of ‘right, now I’m definitely loading those panniers’ type inspiration, it’s all here.
The footage follows the 2012 trip, the first commercial trip of its kind, and we meet the characters who have signed up to be guided by Kevin Sanders, ‘leader of men’, as he is so aptly called at the end of what is a truly gruelling journey.
No one is riding against the clock (other than when they are limited by visa restrictions in Azerbaijan and are trying to catch the ferry across the Caspian), but still the trip has a relentlessness as the group ride the 13,000 miles from London to Beijing in 12 weeks. It’s interesting to watch how the characters develop and cope with adversity, of which there is much. Unfortunately the high altitude renders one rider incapacitated in Tibet, (something I’ve experienced) but Kevin’s quick thinking ultimately saves his life. It’s a tense time, but no more so than when political upheaval and unrest in the former Soviet ‘stans forces the group to tackle passes well above the snow line. The riding challenge is immense; definitely the most difficult any of the riders will ever experience.
It’s unscripted and yet considering Jeff the Kiwi-van-man’s repartee, you really wouldn’t think so. But when the going is properly tough all the tension and frustration is there to witness. It’s rather annoying therefore, that the Discovery Channel style narration (the only scripted bit) continually tries to ramp up the tension. It’s simply irritating to hear that the next section the riders will tackle is the most difficult in the world, when the section 15 minutes earlier, was too. It’s a form of media sensationalism that irritates, when the footage itself and the way it’s been edited, is incredibly engaging.
It’s already fun to watch, is two hours’ brilliant entertainment, and even the most commercially cynical among you will end up with itchy feet and a fresh enthusiasm for some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the globe. Or even just to head away for the next available long weekend.
The Ride: London to Beijing. 120mins.
Cambridge Filmworks Ltd 2012