“The Last Hurrah” video106

Panther Publishing

(2006) 60 minutes

by Kevin Kocur

In 2005, two self-proclaimed “Old Geezers” loaded their vintage thumpers onto a ship and left New Zealand for Beijing, China. Their trip would take them through many countries, eventually ending in Arnhem, Holland.

Des Molloy – Peregrination Planner and Scribe, and Dick Huurdeman – Mechanic and Sage, set out on the adventure of a lifetime. Des aboard “Penelope,” his beloved 1965 Panther 650 and Dick on a 1954 Norton 19S named “Dutch Courage”. Not modern machines by any stretch of the imagination. No fancy aluminum saddle bags or long-travel suspension here. Instead, our boys rely on canvas panniers tied down with rope, and sheepskin seat covers to help absorb the bumps. I’d also like to point out the cool leading-link fork (which Dick designed) on the Norton.

They included Des’s son Steve as cameraman and back-up rider, but according to Steve, “You only want me along to run to the next village for petrol.”

Some of the roads they travel are hard on both bikes and riders. Multiple breakdowns, as well as several hospital visits (mainly due to health issues, not accidents) didn’t help the duo with staying on schedule. Some of the makeshift repairs lasted longer than others. At one point a new fork leg is machined in Iran. Hey—it’s not like you can call the Panther dealer in Mashhad and have them install a new fork.

There are other set-backs as well. Once the bikes arrived in China, they were held for a week by customs. On top of that, the Panther sustained minor damage during shipping, despite being in a heavy-duty metal crate. Not the best way to start one’s journey. Some border crossings took hours before they were allowed through. And to think I get cranky when I’m delayed at the airport! Plus the weather wasn’t always cooperative. I can only imagine what it’s like being caught in a blizzard on the way to Russia…

But some really cool things happened. In Mongolia they come across a sacred Uvoo, which inspires them to build their own out of rock, and in it they leave a time capsule of their travels. Neat!

One of the reasons I enjoy these types of films is the scenery, and “Last Hurrah” doesn’t disappoint. I only wish I were watching it from my bike’s saddle, rather than my living room couch.

However, be warned: watching real life adventure travel films can be hazardous Symptoms may include wanderlust and mysterious gas receipts from places you’re not likely to pronounce.

It’s an enjoyable DVD to watch, albeit a bit short. But that’s OK since there’s no captioning and it can be difficult to understand what the gentlemen are saying (not to mention that Dick sounds a little like Sean Connery) so you may do as I did and watch it twice. It’s a great way to spend a wintry evening; watch the DVD and then pull out your world maps.

M.M.M.

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