MOTONPOGET – A Russian Motorcycle Adventure


MOTONPOGET – A Russian Motorcycle Adventure

David Darcy is a regular contributor to this film festival. One of the most cheery and prolific adventure motorcyclists in the world today we last saw him in Continental Drift, a film about riding from London to Sydney, natch. This time our plucky Aussie is heading east and north, motorcycling across Siberia to the lonely prison outpost of Magadan.

A lengthy journey and even in the summer time, a soul-crushing environment of roasting days and torrential rain, a combination guaranteed to test even the hardiest of riders. This erratic weather, topped off with squadrons of Soviet mosquitoes threaten to turn his Siberian adventure into an episode of ‘Man vs. Insect’. Stirring stuff!




Hello, not long now till this summer’s Adventure Travel Film Festival. We are so excited to be sharing so many fantastic films this year. Lets start with a quick summary of yours, what’s it about?


I’ve enjoyed making feature length motorcycle adventure films for a couple of years.  One of my key sources of inspiration came from attending the Adventure Travel Film Festival in 2010 and getting some tuition from Austin Vince.  I have my own youtube channel called Motorcycle Adventure Dirtbike TV, that has about 70,000 subscribers and has had about twenty million views. 

During a trip from London to Sydney in 2012 we had hit a spot of bother near Samara, Russia.  But, as is frequently the case something good comes from adversity. In my case I made a friend for life, Renat.  

Four years after the London to Sydney trip, Renat invited me to come to Russia. We organised the trip through Facebook and that’s where the challenge started. My understanding of Russian was almost non-existent and his knowledge of English was just bloody dangerous. Strange, but up until a couple of weeks before I headed off to Russia I had no idea I was going to be riding the Road of Bones. I thought I was going to ride a loop to Murmansk in the far north western extremities of Russia and skirt the border of Finland and return to Samara. There is no way in the world I would have even considered riding to Magadan in the time I had given myself in Russia. That would equate to having to ride an average of 700 kilometres per day.  But at the end of the day that’s exactly what happened.   

Where ever we went I was always going to film it. Normally, when filming I would limit myself to around 350 kilometres per day but for this we had to average 700! The combination of riding huge kilometres and the extreme weather conditions made for one of the most difficult filming challenges I’ve undertaken. In many ways this is not my best motorcycle adventure film simply because of the toughness of the ride and I couldn’t spend the time to set up the stories and get the lovely shots. But it is one of my favourites.  


How did the film come about? Was it something that you’ve always been interested in?


This primary motivation behind making this film was as a ‘thank you’ to Renat. Firstly, recognising his tremendous support to us when we first visited Russia during the London to Sydney trip and were down on our luck. Secondly, for asking me to come back and ride with him. We needed a record of this experience to share with our family and friends and the broader motorcycle adventure community.  


This years films have spanned oceans mountains, glaciers… a huge range of environments. What challenges did you face in making yours?


Mud. At times hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of different versions of the stuff. Some of it was like greased sheet metal and during the film you will hear me cursing it. To cover the kilometres we had to keep up our speed and the only way to ride mud at speed is standing on the foot pegs; at times with your heart in your mouth. It caught me out twice. On the first occasion Renat was in front as we approached a bridge and he flicked clay into the clean wheel tracks. I lost control and nearly went straight over the bridge rail and into the fast flowing water below. I rolled along the rail with my chest with my feet above my head in a position similar, to a revolving hand stand! It doesn’t get any closer than that. 


Is there anything that you would like audiences to take away from your film?


There always seems to be reward in adversity. Be it finding out something about yourself, or others. I have consistently witnessed the best in humanity with people from all walks of life and beliefs willing to help strangers. Generally, it seems to be the poorest who have little to offer, that give so much of themselves. 

The nightly news scares the living crap out of us and make us wary, and, or, devalues other cultures and the way others live. Be it, Russia, Iran, North Korea there is a tendency to demonise these countries and all who live within their borders. For example, Iran is considered crazily ambitious to blow up the world with nuclear weapons. But if you talk to visitors to that country they will consistently tell you the Iranian people are some of the most kind and generous you could meet. In this film you will consistently see Russian people going out of there way to help us. There is a warm generosity that is palpable. In Australia, there is no way in the world a bull dozer driver trying to repair a crucial bridge would stop what he is doing to make a boat ramp for a couple of bikers. 


We have lots of people come to the festival who aspire to future film makers. Do you have any advice?


Here’s a scatter gun of things I’ve learned, or things that were useful. Go to Austin Vince’s presentation on documentary making at the ATFF; there is some sound advice there. Find your adventure and make a film. You don’t need the best camera and you could easily film it on your mobile phone. If the story is good and your story telling is good, people will like to watch it.  Post it on youtube, facebook, or vimeo and get ready, the response can be brutal or up lifting.  Sound is 50% of any good doco, put the effort into sound.  On the road, don’t film everyday, but always have your camera easily accessible. Pick your story for the day, plan it and shoot the shit out of it….good cut aways….good sound…..solid piece to camera. Stand there and get the piece to camera absolutely the way you want it. Do not compromise because you are too tired at the end of a hard days ride. I remember standing on a hill in Kyrgyzstan repeatedly doing this piece to camera until I was happy with it. It took me twenty minutes but those 30 seconds of clarity and emotion in a stunning back drop was worth the effort. When you return home, while the footage is fresh in your mind, write the story and your experiences on a two column document with the narrative in the left column and reference to the footage on the right column. You’ll know pretty quickly if you’ve got enough stories for an interesting adventure movie. For an hour long adventure movie, I would preferably like to shoot twelve to fifteen stories and pick the best. Remember less is more; get to the point. Finally making a good adventure movie, with no professional training is bloody hard.

Love what you do and pick something that excites you. Allow your enthusiasm for your topic to engage others, as you would if telling the story to your mates in a pub. But, if your mates start looking at their watches or the door, it’s a pretty clear sign that you haven’t hit the mark. Story telling is a tricky and fickle art. The complexity of melding vision, sound and narrative to create something that people want to watch is very bloody difficult and takes a lot of practice.  Don’t be disheartened if your first is a flop. But if you don’t want your second one to be a flop, for God’s sake listen to people’s feedback. Friends and family can be too subtle, get it on the net to feel the harsh reality of a real audience!


Are you coming to this years festival? How can audiences find out more and connect with you?


Unfortunately I won’t be coming to the ATFF in England and Scotland because it’s too bloody far away. I will however be coming to the ATFF in Australia.

I have a number of full length motorcycle adventure movies on my youtube channel, Motorcycle Adventure Dirtbike TV.  There are also bike tests and gear reviews and some bloody good riders.

Youtube: Motorcycle Adventure Dirtbike TV




Thanks, we can’t wait to share the films this year!

More films:

David Darcy




59 mins


film, film, London 2018, Scotland 2018


motorbike, Russia