From Czech Republic to Iran and back. 15315km, 691liters of petrol, 9 countries, 1 terrabyte of footage and one stunning 33minutes documentary about the trip.
With all the action cams , DSLRs , mirroreless cameras and drones available on the market, it is very common for people to record their trips. I wouldn’t say it’s the norm in the motorcycling community, but for sure it’s become very popular. The purist will say that it takes away the joy of simply riding, but from time to time, beside the shaking helmet footage, you come across some stunning trip documentaries.
This is also the case for Michal Prskavec documentary that you can watch below. The interesting thing is that the whole thing was done by one man, Michal. One man enjoying a 15000+ km trip and also managing to capture his experience, aswell as the local atmosphere.
Being impressed by his work, I decided to contact Michal and ask him some questions.
But first, who is Michal? By reading his presentation on visualmototravel.com, where Michal posts his trips, we found out that Michal Prskavec is a motorcyclist, a traveller, a photograph and a video director, very passionate about sport, adrenaline and adventure, born in 1981, with more than 100.000km ridden on bikes. His dream is to ride on all 5 continents and meanwhile, he hopes he can inspire others to do the same and follow their dreams, through his movies.
1.First of all, when did you decide to go on this trip and how much time did it pass since you actually started the trip?
I can’t say when, because this trip was just a part of my bigger dream. That dream is to visit all of the continents except Antarctic and it has been two years since I started chasing this dream. So I knew I want to visit the Middle East but I had no idea when.
2. Was this your first trip of this kind?
It wasn’t my first trip on a motorcycle. Last year I rode through South England, Wales and Ireland in the spring and Balkan and Italy in the Autumn. Both journeys I filmed and made some short videos. The Middle East Trip was different, because I knew I want to create a documentary. Previous trips were just preparation for such a journey with focus on filming a doc. I had to know what sort of equipment I was going to need.
3.What preparation did you make before the trip ?
I bought some new camera gear to improve the quality of the project and made modification on my bike. I reduced weight of the bike by getting rid of useless stuff like two mufflers etc. Attached alu boxes, changed the fuel tank with a bigger one and carried out full control and service. Motorcycles are my hobby since childhood so I know every inch of my bike and always do service work by myself. Of course I needed to do some paperwork as well. At first I checked the internet to find out what permissions, visas and insurance I must have. I applied for a carnet(passport) in the Czech Republic which you need for Iran. I sorted visas out along the way. Always from the previous country. Iranian visa in Turkey, Turkmenian visa in Iran etc.
4. You said in the video, you had no defects with your bike on this journey, for the whole 15 000 km. Tell us more about your bike, did you make some special preparation before leaving for the trip ? ( No defects, not even a puncture tire:) ) ?
No defects at all and even no puncture. I guess I have been lucky so far, because I rode more than 100 000 km and got a puncture just once. I hope it remains this way. The reason why I might be so lucky is that I picked the right companion. The bike is 20 years old Honda SLR 650. I have chosen this bike for its reliability and simplicity. No electric stuff, air-cooled engine, carburetor. I am able to fix most of issues on the road.
5.Also could you tell us what did you bring with you on this journey?
Let’s say if somebody wants to do the same trip, what would you recommend him to carry with him on his bike?
I intended to sleep most of nights in a tent. So, good outdoor gear is necessary, especially if you are gonna camp in mountains. Petrol and water are important too. You better have a good reserve of water and petrol than run out of it in the middle of nowhere. Especially in southern parts of Iran. I usually bring 10 liters of petrol in canisters and 6 liters of drinking water. A lot of room was taken by the filming equipment, even if I tried to be very careful what to pick.The essentials for me were a DSLR camera with universal 18-300 lens, outdoor action cameras, a drone, a gimbal stabilization and a tripod. Everything else is improvisation. I guess I don’t have to mention some spare parts, like a plugspark or a tire repair kit and tools.
6.We all saw the movie and we really enjoyed it for the whole 33minutes. We know ourselves how much time it takes to get some of the passing by shots when you ride alone. People usually see a clip and think this was easy. Tell us how many hours you recorded and how many gigabytes of recording you had at the finish of the expedition ? 🙂
Yep that is right. Most of people don’t realize the work behind. For example 33 minutes film took me more than 300 hours of editing. I captured more than 30 hours of footage in almost 1 terrabyte of data. I used about 10% of the passing by shots. Yes, 90% of the shots I made, were not used. You have to love filmmaking to dedicate a lot of your valuable time but at the end of that process is great reward in the feedback of the audience. Another advantage is slow travelling. You need to stop quite often so you have an opportunity to look around and enjoy things and moments you would missed otherwise.
7.Speaking about the video, because we (motoroute.ro) are also “video geeks”, you have some beautiful landscape scenes, did you use also some stabilization device during the recording ?
Yes, I use a gimbal stabilization for smoother shots but most of the time I shoot handheld and stab the footage in post-production. Nowadays recording devices have a built-in stabilization which works mostly great and does a pretty good job.
8.I saw in the movie a lot of scenes with people and interactions with them . How did you manage to talk with them, how did you manage to pass the language barrier?
Most of the time people were very friendly and curious. Especially the Iranians. I could see that many people wanted to talk to me but conversation usually ended after several english sentences like “Where are you from and Welcome to Iran” , which was really a pity because I was curious too. The level of english was much higher in the big cities.
That was the opportunity to find out more about culture and people.Sometimes in the countryside I managed to converse by a smart phone and its translator to Farsi. In other cases, you need to use your hands, legs and senses for communication.
9.Going alone on such a long trip can be dangerous. We know you said in the movie you never felt in danger, but were there any tense moments on the way ? I mean, only the recording equipment is worth at least 3000eur, did you feel in any way targeted let’s say ? 🙂
Traveling alone has pros and cons. You have to watch and take care of your bike and your stuff most of the time but some places felt really safe, so I left my bike and went shopping with strong feeling that after coming back everything will be there. Maybe I am naive but it has worked for me so far. The only danger was the nature in the form of a sand storm. That was the only time I was really afraid. In the middle of nowhere I was praying for the tent to cope with the storm. After all, I like to travel on my own. You are the one who has to make the decisions and be responsible for yourself. It’s pure freedom.
11.If it was to make a top 3 most rewarding moments of this trip, what those moments would be?
The whole trip was rewarding on itself but the best were camping in the shadow of the mountain Ararat, swimming in Persian gulf and meeting such extraordinary people like the Iranians.
12. We know that going alone has some advantages, for example nobody to argue with regarding the navigation mistakes 🙂 , but did you ever felt alone during this 50days ?
On trips like this one you never feel alone.There is always somebody around if you want to. Meeting new people and making new friends is part of adventure. I like it fifty/fifty. Half of the time I try to spend in the company of locals and the other half I explore the wilderness of the countries and trying to be alone with myself.
13. After you finished the trip, did it ever occur to think that you could have done something different and if so, what would that be ?
I don’t think so. I would have done it probably the same way. When I look back I am sorry that I couldn’t explore more of Georgia due to bad weather or I didn’t ride whole Transfaragasan because of the snow, but these are things you can not change. Somebody would argue that you can come after the weather gets better or the snow melted but it means to change other part of the journey. In that case you would miss something else. I hope it is understandable. What I learnt from life is to accept things as they come.
14. Probably there are people watching your video and thinking to replicate your trip, but it remains as a dream. They think they don’t have the time or don’t have the money or both . We know the trips statistics, 15315 KMs , 691 litres of petrol, crossing 9 countries during 50 days. Could you make a rough estimate on the money you spent during these 50 days , so that they could estimate a budget for a future dream trip ?
It really depends how far are you willing to move away from your comfort zone. If you sleep in a tent you can save significant amount of money and as a bonus you will experience some adventure. Big part of my budget swallowed by the bike. Petrol cost me about 600 Eur. Bureaucracy ate another piece of the money cake. Visas, insurance, carnet etc. The important thing is how much time you are gonna spend in the countries. For example three weeks in Iran cost me almost the same like one week in Turkey. Petrol and food prices may vary and if you are on a budget, I highly recommend to visit Iran. The whole expedition cost me approximately 1800 Eur which is in my opinion quite reasonable.
15. We are very sorry that you didn’t have the chance to ride the Transfagarasan from one side to the other, May is not the best time for it. At least you had the chance to ride also the Transalpina. Since we are a website that promotes the moto routes from Romania, and you also crossed our country, tell us how did you like to ride here ?There is a lot of hype around the Transfagarasan since Top gear coined the term “best road in the world” , what is your honest opinion about it ? 🙂
When I compare both roads I have to say I like Transfaragasan more. It has got a kind of spirit I can’t explain. Maybe the history of the road is what makes the difference. However Transalpina is one of the best road I ever rode and I really enjoyed every part of it. I am looking forward to visit Romania again to explore others and no less beautiful roads in the country and I definitelly will.
For more information,stunning pictures and videos from Michals trips, you can visit his vimeo and youtube channels, his facebook page or his website