The outside of a motorbike engine seen up close near the exhaust

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You Only See The Interesting Bits

Blog Date 4 August 2023

I'll say something like "After 3 hours we peel off the motorway and into the countryside". I'm quite sure most of you reading this have your own experience of 3 hours on the motorway network so you'll have your own understanding of this simple statement. And yet it glosses over so much of the day so easily.

A motorway with cars upon it
I don't hate the motorway, but they can be monotonous.

I try to not write about just the good stuff on my trips, I include the bad stuff too. In fact you 'orrible lot seem to enjoy my sufferings far more than my pleasures, nasty pasties. I try to convey the boring bits as these are as much a part of travelling as are stunning vistas and fabulous twisty roads. The problem is I need to convey the boring bits in an interesting manner otherwise it becomes as boring reading them as it was doing them. 

As a reader it takes a mere 20 seconds to read and absorb that which took me 3 hours of just sitting in the saddle. 3 hours of watching tarmac of various shades of grey passing under my tyres. 3 hours to notice that SJ Bargh trucks are mostly tankers so I suppose that's what SJ Bargh does. 3 hours of making up silly phrases using reg plates as a starting point. 3 hours to contemplate whether or not Schrodinger's cat is in fact alive, or dead, or both. 

A similar thing applies to comments in the Repair Chat. From the outside looking in Glyn's got the CCM in bits and then it's working again. We don't hear about the 3 hours it took him to get that fiddly bolt out other than a "that bolt was a right pain" kind of comment. We get brief summaries of Ian's Greeves' progress, it all seems so easy but I'm sure there's daily battles and a lot of thinking and fettling happening.

Half the rusty old seized nut has been cut away from the exhaust header
Can you imagine how much fun this day was!

We can watch a detective drama that gives the notion being a detective seems really interesting. You have a puzzle to solve and the clues come at you thick and fast, the characters are intriguing and your team of course is always the best. To be a TV detective though you MUST have a terrible home life (except Midsomer Murders), preferably a drink problem and be socially maladjusted. Oh - and you will always be locking horns with your superiors. What is mentioned but rapidly glossed over is the mountain of paperwork that'll take up 80% of your time and the fact most of your work will be trying to ensure Dodgy Dave The Diamond Geezer doesn't get off with handling stolen goods on a technicality. Again.

To ensure the reading or watching of a story is engaging the story must move on. We can show the passage of time with a spinning clock on the screen or a comment like "after 3 hours of drudgery" but we can't give the reader that sensation of 3 hours of drudgery... without giving them 3 hours of drudgery. 

This is the problem with story telling. Due to the condensing of time and the desire to keep the reader (and the writer!) engaged it makes the tale seem like an adventure filled with all kinds of things happening in rapid progression. The hour spent in the shower and on the loo are skipped, the hour to make tea and eat it and wash up are glossed over. We logically know these things must be going on but as the reader or watcher we don't emotionally feel them.

Ren's bike fully loaded outside a supermarket while travelling
Even wild adventurers need to do the shopping you know.

Is there a fix? I can't think of one. All I can do is state that those 3 motorway hours weren't particularly interesting and hope that you have the experience and imagination to appreciate what 3 hours of rather dull motorway feels like. 

Whatever you watch or read is therefore almost certainly misleading. Not in a conspiratorial "the truth is out there" way, just in a "you don't really want to know about me brushing my teeth" way. Our lives are over 90% filled with mundanity, the dressing, the washing, the working, and all the rest. 

It took Ewan and Charlie 115 days, about 2,760 hours, to ride around the world. There's about 6 hours watching of the DVDs. That's about 2,754 hours of stuff not interesting enough to make it into the cut. I sometimes feel my life is boring and dull and uninteresting. It helps to remind myself that even when you're riding around the globe there's still an awful lot of boring and dull and uninteresting out there, much the same as home.  

Snow capped mountains, wonderful countryside, the bikes and the tent under blue skies
It's safe to say it's not always like this.

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Reader's Comments

nab301 said :-

"I'll say something like "After 3 hours we peel off the motorway and into the countryside"

Ren , when was the last time you spent 3 hrs on the motorway ? Owing to the vast quantities of tea consumed and the oft mentioned miniature bladder , I didn't think you could spend that long on your bike...!! And as for spending an hour on the loo, might I suggest increasing your fibre intake , I'm sure that'll speed things up a bit.
04/08/2023 17:56:17 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Oh my lord, everyone's a critic. When I say 3 hours on the motorway I might have omitted the 2.5 hours of stopping to ingest tea and equally expel the now processed tea. As for fibre? What are you suggesting, that I eat some socks and maybe a bike jacket?
05/08/2023 08:31:04 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
All true stuff Ren, apart from your comment about E&C's video. For my part there was barely enough of interest to fill an hour's episode.. A minute of Boorman's whinging was quite enough for me, and how he got commissioned to do other "reality" TV programmes beats me. Ewan however did come across as a decent chap.

It's also a case of knowing your audience. As you say I only post very edited highlights of my projects as (a) probably not many here are that interested and (b) the structure of this site means that overload would rapidly ensue followed shortly by someone asking me politely to leave. If anyone wants to see the full(ish) story of my XBR project i'ts on the link below. I did go into some detail there as it's a forum specifically for riders of big singles and several members also have similar bikes and have done related projects.
05/08/2023 10:25:48 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
"You only see the interesting bits".........sums up most of modern life really, just soundbites around others reality. But in the case of most modern TV etc ( yes I know I'm old) there are no interesting bits. The E and C roadshow was dross......the resulting spin offs even worse. I've never managed more than ten minutes before contemplating an early death before deciding a good read and a glass of malt is probably a better option.
You keep writing fella, it's almost entertaining.
08/08/2023 13:11:09 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Well I quite enjoyed Long Way Round, so there.

The notion of the best bits isn't a modern phenomenon. Take a Shakespearian play, the Bard wouldn't leave the audience to endure 3 hours of boredom to get a point across... although some may argue that's what the whole play is, 3 hours of boredom.
10/08/2023 07:27:42 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , I'd never have thought you're a thespian biker !

11/08/2023 11:15:45 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Oh nab301 dear chap, don't you know I studied at RADA, I've been with the Royal Shakespeare at Stratford since I was a child, I was born to be on the stage! Sir Patrick Stewart and I go way back!

Or... I've seen a few TV interpretations of Shakespeare on telly, and I have been to Stratford.
11/08/2023 18:07:29 UTC

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