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Updated: April 7, 2013 00:10 IST

‘Cruising down Kochi roads akin to real-life gaming experience’

Stan Rayan
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Charley Boorman
The Hindu
Charley Boorman

He has been doing about 100,000 miles on his motorcycle every year for the last 15 years, in different countries, still the Indian traffic turned out to be an amazing experience for Charley Boorman.

“It’s like a real-life video game…it’s interesting,” said the famed adventure rider from London after a taste of the Kochi roads, here on Friday night. “But out of what seems chaos, there’s actually a method to the whole thing. Once you understand how the system works, it’s actually very easy to get around. You have to be awake and very, very alert but it is fun and I love it.”

Boorman was in Kochi as part of Star Sports’ six-part television series, Freedom Riders Asia, which saw him riding through Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines before landing in India. Actor Gul Panag, also a bike enthusiast, is a co-host for the show’s Indian leg which will see the two riding Royal Enfield bikes.

The son of acclaimed film director John Boorman and a Hollywood actor himself, Boorman took to bikes at six.

He did a lot of racing and rallying, before moving to adventure riding. His first TV adventure series, ‘Long Way Round’ in 2004, during which he rode 20,000 miles across the globe, from London to New York through Europe and Asia along with his friend Ewan McGregor, made him a celebrity all over the world and brought many awards too.

The new Freedom Riders’ Indian leg, which is supported by Shell Advance, carried Boorman through the Coorg-Munnar route, which had been voted as the world’s ultimate riding wonder last year, and he was thrilled with the Kerala experience.

“The tea plantations up the mountains… it looks like a giant, beautiful lush carpet, you almost feel like you want to jump off the bike and run down these lush carpets,” he said. “People always talk about Kerala as a stunning place for riding; they call this God’s country for riding. A lot of Europeans come down here because they want to ride these roads.”

Boorman’s toughest ride came in the Dakar Rally in 2006. “It’s some 16 days with 800 km every day and in the Sahara Desert and the year I did it, there were 250 motorcycles which started and 67 finished,” he said about his experience in what is often considered as the world’s toughest rally. “I didn’t finish, I crashed out on day five and broke my hands. That was the end of the Dakar for me but we made a good TV show.”

He is keen to give Dakar another try. “If I get a sponsor, I would do it again,” he said, ever ready for a challenge.

“Serious?” said Kar Tai Koh, the Global Brand Manager for Shell Advance, smiling and almost throwing a hint that he would back the Brit.

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