Charley Boorman: ‘Riding motorbikes as a job is just beyond belief!’

Charley Boorman is crossing America on his beloved bike for Charley Boorman’s USA Adventure on Thursday, November 21 on Channel 5.

TV & Satellite Week caught up with him to get the lowdown…

What was the idea behind the show?
“I wanted to revisit the country and to get to know it better because I’ve lived off and on in America since I was six months old because my dad John directed films such as Deliverance and Excalibur there, but I have never done the southern heart. I think all of us have an inkling to cross America and we wanted to get away from the standard places like Miami and Disneyland and go a bit frontiery and into the wilderness.”

Where did you start?
“We began in Hawaii and visited the lava fields there. You have to be careful because the lava flows just underneath the crust so if you walk in the wrong places you could lose your feet and at one point my soles started to melt. Where it starts to ooze out into the sea it looked like a waterfall of magma, you are watching a little piece of the world appearing, it was beautiful.”

What was the scariest thing you did?
“We spent the night up a cliff in the Rockies. We were 10,000 feet up in the mountains and 350 feet up this sheer cliff and I had to lie on this bed that was held on by a couple of straps. We were about to sleep when rocks fell and and a couple of big ones just missed my head so we decided it was too unstable and had to abseil back down in the pitch dark. That was the hairiest moment of the trip.”

And what was the most bizarre?
“We went frogging in Louisiana. The guy we met was crazy, exactly the type of person you’d expect to see on the bayou. Because of the influence of the French the food culture is huge and they are pretty big frogs and damn tasty. But it was hilarious going out on an airboat, we spent all night looking for frogs and the guy told us he always gets at least 20 or 30 minimum, but we only got two in seven hours.”

Do you bond with your bike on these trips?
“Oh definitely, every bike I have ever had. My only regret through life that I have ever had are the bikes that I have sold. I still feel there is one bike the Honda XR600 that I just still wish I had kept, but I didn’t have the money at the time.”

Do you still get the same thrill from biking?
“I do. I think loving motorcycle riding is a bit like someone who is passionate about horseriding or climbing. Because you love it so much you make the effort to go out and do it and for me to be able to have stumbled across a job where I can ride motorbikes is just beyond belief really. I couldn’t bear being driven in a limo or anything like that. I just ride my bikes to work in London so I get around really quickly and easily.”

What do you always take with you on your travels?
I always take my smartphone and baby wipes are very important because there is nothing worse than a mucky bottom when you are sitting on a bike! I also take a little portable speaker so that I can play music in the evenings. I love all that.”

Would you like to do more Long Way… shows with Ewan McGregor?
“Yes we have always spoken about doing a third one – it’s just finding the time really, but we’d like to go to South America. Our love of motorcycles has always bonded us. It was the subject of the first conversation we ever had and I spoke to him a couple of days ago and we were talking about bikes again. He is such a lovely fella, he is very kind and generous and thoughtful so it is easy to be his friend.”

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