The Last Hurrah is yet another fantastic motorcycle touring adventure tale about two elderly gentlemen who decide in 2005 to ride two real Old Timer motorbikes – a 1965 Panther 650 and a 1954 Norton 600 – from Beijing to Arnhem, Holland to fulfill a lifelong dream and have their “Last Hurrah”.
Just taking two bikes of that vintage across town can be an adventure, much less taking them on a trip like this with two men at the helm who, to be honest, really do look like they’re way past their prime.
Old blokes on old timer motorbikes
Motorcycle travel books normally tell the tales of 20-40 somethings travelling to far flung places, rarely are they the tales of 60 or 70 year olds. Kiwis Des Molloy and Dick Huurdemman just changed all that. Not only are they old blokes on bikes but old blokes on old bikes – ‘Penelope’ a Yorkshire-made 1965 650 Panther and ‘Dutch Courage’ a 1954 Norton 600 motorcycle.
Add to that the fact that both of them have health problems – Dick Huurdeman is a septuagenarian survivor of several strokes and a diabetes patient, Des Molloy had his own health problems that would see him in the hospital multiple times along there journey.
Now you may think, and rightly so, that two gentlemen of this vintage and with these health problems should most certainly not be setting out on a trip like this. Is is lunacy? Or adventure? A little of both, to be sure. But one thing is certain — they are definitely kickass motorcyclists!
Des’s son Steve came along for the ride, so there was a backup vehicle to hold some of the camera equipment, although not much is said about its role in the journey. Des simultaneously does most of the filming making sure the old bikes (and old men) get ample exposure in the film.
Northern Silk Road
These old blokes on old bikes travelled more than 20,000 km to have their ‘Last Hurrah’ – their long dreamed of trip from Beijing to Arnhem along the Silk Road. The route took them across the Northern-most of the Old Silk Roads over the roof of the world through mountains and snow in China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Pakistan, then across the burning deserts in Iran and Turkey, onto Greece, Italy, Germany and finally to Holland. They clocked up more than 20,000 km in total and travelled the last 5000 km in a frantic dash of little over a week, riding up to 12 hours a day just to be in Arnhem on time to celebrate Dick’s wives’ birthday.
Just before this ‘last dash to the finish line’ Dick’s health finally gives out in Iran forcing him to fly back to Holland, while the others finish the trip by bike.
The journey was traumatic as it was inspiring! Was this idiocy or odyssey? Decide for yourself as you watch the account of their adventures and misadventures on DVD (very hard to get by though) or while reading their written account.