Video Review – The Long Way Up Episode 11

In Reviews by AbhiLeave a Comment

It’s over!

Episode 11 – Oaxaca to L.A. (50 minutes)
Weirdly, the finale ditches the naming structure that every other episode has of describing the featured countries, and instead just goes from city to city.

2,306 miles to LA!

Having been told countless times that it’s dangerous to ride in Mexico at night, the crew spent most of the last episode finding a bus and getting it retrofitted so they can shove the LiveWires in the back and keep rolling when its dark. Work on the bus continues through the beginning of episode 11, and for a while Long Way Up has turned into a budget version of Pimp My Ride. This ends up taking 18 minutes out of the 50 minute finale…and the bus isn’t even done before the bikes head out. I don’t mean to take anything away from the work put into the bus, and it’s seriously impressive on short notice that they were able to build beds, a ramp, storage racks, and more – but I signed up to watch a motorcycle adventure program, not a bus customization show.

On the road again, the boys get back to exploring. One highlight is a hot air balloon ride at the pyramids in Teotihuacan.

The bus catches up with the riders, and the latter go into the former before sunset.

The core team is together, but no mention is made of where the Rivians are and how they’re getting to the Mexican border (or LA, or wherever we’re supposed to see them next). This part of the trip is highly confusing, though I can’t blame them for being cautious from a security standpoint.

The bus has covered approximately 1,000 miles through Mexico, seemingly not stopping for anything but gas. 95 miles away from the US border, the bikes come off the bus. At this point I’m not sure why they didn’t just fly ahead like they did in Colombia, as the stress and delays of buying and building the bus don’t seem worth the trouble in my eyes.

They try to cross over in El Paso, and oddly enough there’s additional paperwork. Extra odd: Ewan and Charley have to go 25 miles west to get their bikes cleared, while the crew has to go 20 miles east to get the camera equipment cleared. Then both parties have to come back to El Paso for the crossing.

Once in the US, they just sit on the 10 freeway at 50-55 miles per hour, which sounds like a recipe for boredom. Without an explanation (or maybe I missed it), the Rivians are back. The boys are very excited about electric chargers in America, as the infrastructure is setup for fast charging. Charley’s blown away that he just saw 6% charge in 3 minutes and it leads to him doing a happy dance.

Charley follows up on almost hitting a bicycle in the previous episode with almost hitting a car in this one.

We get hit with a montage of the American Southwest while Ewan and Charley tell us a bit about what it means to travel via motorcycles.
Charley: “You don’t remember the easy days, they all just blend in together. The things you remember for the rest of your life are difficult.”
Ewan: “There’s still moments of great confliction with the electric bike because we’re used to a simpler way, it’s just that simpler way is polluting, and ultimately that simpler way has got to change….we’re just at that moment or that cusp of change. You know what? We’ll look back and go, ‘oh, we did it then when nothing was ready’ and that’s why it’s probably really exciting that we did it now.”

No matter how you feel about the choice to go electric, it’s quite staggering how much of the world Ewan and Charley have ridden together on these three trips.

The next day starts in Willcox, Arizona, and we get one more interesting quote from Ewan: “When you’re on a bike, you’re in it and connected to it and belong in it and you feel part of it, and your relationship to that landscape is much closer, in a way. Because you’ve ridden there on your bike, you belong there more, you haven’t sort of dropped in by airplane, you sort of deserve to be there more in a weird way, it’s more yours.”

The last day begins in Palm Springs – the crew has arranged a small convoy of people to ride into Los Angeles together and it gets bigger after a stop at Los Angeles Harley-Davidson in Fullerton, California.

As a resident of Los Angeles, I was very interested to see where the final destination would be. Turns out it’s the Bike Shed Los Angeles, an American version of the one in England. It’s set in the Arts District and should be opening soon.

That’s pretty much a wrap – everyone celebrates together, and it seems fitting that my last screencap should be of the core team…and extra fitting that Claudio is there, but slightly in the background. One could make the case that he’s the real star of the series, always hiding in the background. Did you see the interview he did with ADVRider?

The series ends with Ewan mentioning that he’s “going to have to start planning the next one.” The only direction left is Long Way Down, right?

At one point during the bus work at the beginning of the episode, Ewan mentioned that while the mileage is less than their other trips, it feels like it’s been longer. One of the producers asks why and Ewan says it’s because they’re all older. I disagree – I think it’s the LiveWires and the limitations they’ve imposed on a trip of this sort. In Long Way Round and Long Way Down, the difficult stuff was the terrain and technical riding. On this trip, the difficult stuff was dealing with electrical infrastructure. And while I admire what Charley and Ewan have done here (and am very jealous of their trip), their accomplishment of being the first people to do a trip like this on electric motorcycles didn’t really pay off to me as a viewer.

Still, it’s easy to criticize, and I wouldn’t have been able to put something like this together. So now I’m inspired to do two things:
1.) Watch Long Way Round
2.) Ask Harley-Davidson for a LiveWire to try, assuming I can think of something interesting to do with it…

Would I watch Long Way Up again? Only the first episode. But if you haven’t seen the series and COVID’s minimized your travel plans this year, I’d say it’s worth getting an Apple TV trial (free for seven days) and knocking out these episodes in a binge session or three. Have fun, and let me know what you think!