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The Longest Ride - My 10-Year 500,000 Mile Motorcycle Journey

I just finished up this book a few days ago and was frankly amazed. I am a fan of the Long Way Down/Round series but Emilio's journey makes that look like a trip to the corner store!

The book was not quite what I was expecting to be honest. I hadn't read too much about it before it arrived and I was expecting a novel format book - lots of writing and not many pictures to speak of. It's a hardcover book, and a hefty one at that - with dimensions slightly larger than the size of a printed page and over an inch thick. I thumbed through it and noticed it was full of pictures - hundreds of them, and worried that it was more of a picture book and might not have enough depth to hold my interest. Boy, was I wrong. Emilio is a fabulous story teller and it was tough to put the book down. It's a fascinating summary of 10 years of riding along with tons of pictures to illustrate. A great combination!

The author, Emilio Scotto, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His dream to travel around the world started when he was only eight years old and his mother bought him a world atlas. He said then that he would someday make a route that would pass through all the countries of the world. He began his professional career as a pharmaceutical salesman. Hardly a rich man who could afford to fund a 10 year journey, he couldn't even afford the motorcycle to get himself out on the road. Fate, karma, and a lot of luck helped him to get a black Honda 1100 Gold Wing that would come to be known as the 'black princess'.

That atlas and that motorcycle helped him to, in 1997, earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World Recors as "the person who made the Longest Journey Around the World on a Motorcycle". It's a record that has not been surpassed. In fact, in 2000 Emilio was included in an international list of the 40 greatest explorers of humanity. Right up there with Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and Neil Armstrong.

In 1985 he set out on a record-breaking world tour and wouldn't return until 1995 after he'd driven the equivalent of a round-trip to the moon. He ended up going around the world twice in fact. The journey started in his native South America, followed by Central America, Mexico, United States, and Canada. Then he moved on to Europe, the Soviet Union, and Africa. He later went to Tunisia, Libya, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone (where he had a dangerous encounter with cannibals!), Liberia, Congo, Zaire Mozambique,... the list goes on and on - He visited 279 countries and territories in all. You may want to have an atlas handy when you're reading this to watch his progress as he criss-crosses the world.

He was shot at, robbed, suffered serious illnesses, and thrown in jail six times. He took 90,000 photographs during the journey, over 200 of which make it into his amazing book.

Since his trip ended in 1995 you may be wondering what Emilio is up to now. He's planning another trip! This time he'll be taking a few more people along with him though. The journey is called Caravaan 2008.

Here's some additional details from Emilio regarding the event:

24 motorcyclists, both male and female, will travel with me around the world along all kinds of roads during approximately 225 days (7 month). The participants will be selected from many diferent countries and will travel approximately 100,000 km's. It'll produce 120 TV shows and one documentary.

CARAVAN is a television project, which has been also created for Internet and Telecom companies.

CARAVAN will use webcams, GPS, satellite communication, chatrooms, text messaging, cellular phones, email, digital video, and digital pictures to communicate with a worldwide audience looking for a new kind of entertainment.

Includes:

6 continents
32 countries
2,760 cities and towns
2 oceans, 3 seas
1 high altitude lake
1 huge salt desert
10 mountain ranges
23 rivers and deserts

Emilio's goal is to have 24 motorcyclists, 10 all-terrain vehicles, 3 unimogs and 3 trucks be part of the Caravan. Total participants will be 110 including the production team. These numbers are subject to change though because Emilio would like for participants to have to pay nothing to be a part of the event - with costs rising to 16 million they need many sponsors though, so there may be some revisions to the format.

Emilio has sought to offer spots to people who are interested in going and they have been seeking registrants via the www.emilioscotto.com website. So far they've got over 2,150 people registered who would like to go along. You must be able to speak spanish. Darn! I'm out of the running!

You can pick up a copy of his book at booksellers everywhere or you can also purchase it, and hundreds of other motorcycle themed books, via Canadian Motorcycle Rider's bookstore here.


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