Marc Maurer Film; A Journey Beyond II
In this beautifully shot Bombtrack film, Apidura Ambassador Marc Maurer sets off on a bikepacking trip in Central Asia.
In 2015, Apidura Ambassador Marc Maurer did an extended tour through Turkey and the Caucasus, and documented his travels in the film, ‘A Journey Beyond‘. The film captured the imagination of many, and so when Marc decided he would be embarking on another tour, this time through Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in Central Asia, it was with much excitement that we learned he would be filming his adventure once again.
‘A Journey Beyond II’ provides insight not just into the region of Central Asia that Marc travels through, but also the very essence of bike touring itself. Watch the full film below, or scroll down for a Q&A with Marc, and discover more about the adventure behind the film.
Why Central Asia?
I’ve always been interested in the Asian continent. Since my first travels there, I’ve been infected by the culture, people, landscapes. I even did a BA in Asian studies! During all my travels though, I never made it to this special region of Central Asia. It has such incredible history and landscapes, and I decided that now was finally the time to explore.
Your first film, A Journey Beyond, followed you riding through Turkey and the Caucasus. How did the second Journey Beyond differ?
In many ways! The terrain was so different from what I’d experienced before. The mountains were higher, the regions were remoter, the amount of time spent off-road was so much more. I also spent some time travelling in a larger group of cyclists, which definitely makes the travel experience totally different to when riding solo.
The mountains were higher, the regions were remoter, the amount of time spent off-road was so much more - Marc Maurer
You get quite emotional at points in the film. What do you think it is about bicycle travel that draws out this emotional, reflective side to us?
I’m not really sure why cycling – or travelling in general – draws out these emotional feelings, but it definitely does. Maybe it is because you’re so exposed to nature, people, traffic, and the elements, which makes the experience quite intense, especially when you’re tired, hungry, and so on. Maybe there’s something about the physical side of it too, which makes you get some sort of runner’s high, when you have an endorphin rush that lasts for hours or days. Life on the road an emotional experience!
What’s it like documenting your travels in such a way? Is it difficult in the moment? Or nice to look back on?
I first started documenting my travels in video form years ago, because I was too lazy to write. In time, the camera became a kind of travel buddy for me, as sometimes it can be difficult to share situations, moments, or emotions when you are alone. I just talk to my camera like it’s an imaginary friend, and a place to unload my disjointed thoughts and feelings.
The camera has the ability to destroy moments too, though. Sometimes, people react totally differently to you if they have a camera in their face, so it can be better to leave it in the bag and just enjoy the moment. Watching the films now brings back so many memories of these people, places, and experiences though. It makes me fall in love with them all again.
You really get a sense for how remote it can be out there in the film. Did you still have lots of opportunities to meet local people?
Even if you feel like you’re in a remote place, you can almost always guarantee that there will be people around somewhere. All of a sudden they’ll appear from the middle of nowhere, right next to your camp spot, or when you’re sitting by the side of the road having lunch or something. The people I met were really curious and interested in what I was doing, but not many spoke English, and I certainly don’t speak either Russian or any of their local dialects, so it was just sign language and smiles most of the time.
It all had such an impact on me that I had to fight back the tears while riding. It was quite beautiful - Marc Maurer
What was your highest high, and lowest low?
My highest high – literally, as it turns out – was on the high altitude plateau on the Pamir mountains. I was just overawed by everything; the landscapes that surrounded me, the force of nature I had to face, the altitude I found myself at, and the lack of energy I had as a result. It all had such an impact on me that I had to fight back the tears while riding. It was quite beautiful.
The lowest point on the trip was this insane sickness I had to fight through. I had bad diarrhea and vomit for two weeks, which was definitely no fun while cycling!
Any advice for travelling this region by bike?
Take a reliable bike with you, as sourcing spares can be pretty difficult. Take good clothes and shelter, as the weather can be insane. Carry a water filter and stove with you, as you’ll need to be self-sufficient in the nutrition department. Finally, be ready for the unknown.