Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Real, Living L Ron ... (Sans the Neck Kerchief)

About a year ago, my aunt Marci (the one immediate relative I have living in LA who lives a few blocks away yet never calls, and who I deemed my 'bitch aunt' after she scolded me at the Taco Factory in sixth grade for spilling a soda) invited my brother and I to a dinner. She's a lot of fun, on the rare occasions when I actually get to see her. And at this lovely affair on Robertson, we had the pleasure of meeting one of her closest friends ... a casting agent who was obsessed with trying to get Small Face (my brother) to come in to audition for the roll of Johnny Cash in a MOW she was casting, Marci's girlfriend's niece from the UK, and the niece's friend Alastair Humphreys.

In typical Marci fashion, she was gloating at the fact that she invited one of the most impressive random dinner guests to her soiree. She lives to woo people. And boy, was Alastair something. He pulled up on a bike ... which in West Hollywood is a rare occasion. And by the smile on Marci's face, I could tell there was some character description of him that she couldn't wait to spew. He had blondish/reddish hair, medium height, cute, toned ... but I couldn't figure out exactly what it might be. A few bites of bread later, she 'outed' him before he had a chance to tell ... "Alastair has been riding his bike around the world. Can you guess what the number one question is that people ask him?"

Now, next to throwing lavish parties in Europe (her girlfriend Joanna is British and a travel agent to the wealthy), her second favorite thing to do is challenge family members .... me, at 28, somehow being at the top of her list. "How?" was my response. I mean, I understand the urge to get on a bike and never stop. And to see the world -while- getting a workout (my world travels lately have been by boat) ... but the logistics of it were my first instinct. "No ... why?" she guffawed. As if I couldn't possibly understand his international tastes, even though I've consistently been able to travel to more countries than my age. Nothing to brag about in comparison to Mr. Humphreys, I fully admit, but not bad for a girl from the Central Val. I fully understood the 'why' and was thoroughly impressed with the 'how'. But she took another sip of port, sure of having upped me. Again. And let the charmingly modest Alastair take the floor with his tales of Siberian beard icicles and unmarked bike paths. "I have been riding this same bike for years," he said, taking a sip of water with lemon, "to the rest of the world I am a rich man when I ride down the streets ... in America, people laugh as they drive past."

Let me just say ... meeting Alastair was such a pleasure, I'm writing about it a year later. I've been reading about his travels ever since, and I highly recommend checking out his adventures. He's amazing, talented, dedicated, well-read, and a true citizen of the world that deserves credit where credit due. Here is a list of his "ests" which I find fascinating:

Longest day: 240km, Peru
Shortest day: 4km, a Chinese snowdrift
Highest point: 4900m, Peru and Argentina
Lowest point: -392m, the Dead Sea, Jordan
Longest time away from land: 24 days on the South Atlantic
Furthest point from the ocean: Urumqi, China
Hottest temperature: 45C, Sudan and Turkmenistan
Coldest temperature: -40C, Russia
Fastest speed: 80kph, Germany
Steepest road: 35%, Lesotho
Longest Uphill: 2 days, Peru and Argentina
Longest Downhill: 80km, Peru
Heaviest bike: gear for –20C, 8 days food, 18l water, Argentina
Heaviest me: a supersize 85kg, USA
Lightest me: 3 months later: a post-Siberian winter 70kg
Most food carried: 10 days, Alaska and Russia
Most punctures in a day: 15, Bolivia
Most vomits in a dayÂ’s ride: numerous, Turkey
Longest break from the bike: 2.5 months, Cape Town
Longest ride without a break: 1 month, 4200km, China
Longest time without a shower: 1 month, China
Longest time without a conversation (with another person!): 8 days, Argentina and Chile (except for a truck driver who said “Would you like a lift?” I replied, “No thanks” and he drove off)
Furthest north: 70 degrees, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska
Furthest south: 56 degrees, Ushuaia, Argentina
Furthest east: 179, 59, 59: Pacific Ocean
Furthest west: 179, 59, 59: Pacific Ocean

I am honored that I was given the pleasure of meeting such a fine humanitarian.
Check out his website:


1 comment:

divine said...

Take that, L. Ron! This guy so totally kicks his ass.