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How have your riding skills improved as a result of this journey, and perhaps the BR319 experience?
I always am quick to say on camera, and in my speaking events, that I am not a great motorcycle rider. You’ll never see me signing up for the Dakar Rally or anything like that. I love riding my motorcycle and exploring countries and I love trying out some challenging routes, but by no means am I interested in racing or do I consider myself prolific in the off-road riding department. I am humble. I have a real knack for covering huge distances, staying really focused and riding in insane conditions; but all of this is done at a very reasonable speed and safety is always my first priority.
With all of that being said, the BR-319 was not really motorcycle riding. I mean, yes I was on my motorcycle but the road was so bad and the mud was so deep that I wasn’t really able to get “up on the pegs” and attack the road and really generate any pace. It would have been far too dangerous to do that as some of the hidden potholes and sinkholes were deeper than the motorcycle’s height. So instead I just kept both feet down close to the ground and “limped” my way for about 1,000km along the BR-319. The process doesn’t make you a better motorcycle rider, it’ll either break your spirit or make you as patient as the Buddhist monk. I like to think I picked up a few monk-like qualities on this stretch of road. When you are stuck in a mud-puddle up to your armpits and its only 8am and you still have 500km to cover, getting angry really doesn’t help the situation at all.

All the extra-curricular activities you did (coffee, beer, sushi, climbing, camping etc.) that make for a great film – how were these researched and organised in advance?
The extra-curricular activities that I do during these expeditions are really important, because they put me in touch with local people and that allows my audience to understand the country and its people better, plus I get the benefit of building lasting friendships. And these activities do lead to great filming, and truly memorable moments. While the motorcycling aspects of the journey is very adventurous, it is important to learn as much about Brazil as possible through these activities and interactions so that there is greater context to the scenery that I am passing through while riding at 80km an hour on the better roads in Brazil.All of the activities that I do in all of my productions are selected and organised by my team. In this respect I am very lucky because Colin and I created the Tough Rides motorcycle concept and we’ve kept control of the series. So that means in Brazil I had to create the concept, plan the route, organise the extra-circulars and bring on the broadcast partners as well as put together all of the other aspects of the production. It is time-consuming, but when it all works as it did in Brazil, it is incredibly rewarding. It should also be mentioned that this is my full-time job; I am only a television producer and presenter and motorcycle adventurer. I make several television productions per year for various partners and broadcasters around the globe.


Did you really feel the strength of social media and the connection to the Adventure community with your communication of this trip?
Social media is remarkable, and allows for so much interaction and sharing. On this journey in Brazil I did feel the strength of social media and the adventure community was incredibly supportive from day one. We’ve had a lovely response from people all around the world that followed my exploration of Brazil. For this support I am forever grateful.


What kind of support vehicle was the rest of the team travelling in and how did this cope with the harsh jungle conditions compared to the bike?
The support vehicle is a very important aspect of the production. There is no real way to make a multi-episode HD adventure television show without having a truckload of camera equipment, hard drives and a dedicated videographer. We had a large SUV to help get us through our journey in Brazil and it struggled. The incredibly long days in the Amazon specifically caused our support vehicle a lot of problems and it would regularly get stuck in the mud and have to be “winched” out. The bike was able to move much quicker through the mud and of course was much lighter than the car and easier to lift out and manoeuvre if stuck in deep mud.


How did the group dynamic work on this trip? Old friends or new crew?
Altogether we had a four-person crew. We had one fixer and production manager who was a local Brazilian who managed to help organise our journey from Sao Paulo, and then two cameramen with me on the road - one of my cameramen was also driving.
Each trip brings on new personalities. My main cameraman, Chad Ingraham, has been with me on all of my productions; including the Tough Rides and Extreme Treks series that I work on as well as a few shows with Discovery Channel that I’ve done. My second cameraman was new to this adventure and my Brazilian production manager was also new.
The group dynamic is always challenging on these productions because there are friendships, but there are also work stresses and significant safety concerns. All of these dynamics need to be clearly understood and worked out. As the director of the show I am also team leader and managing various personalities over a 65-day production in some very challenging conditions is not an easy task. I am very proud that we’ve accomplished what we have. I am excited to look forward to season #4, my hope is that we can begin production in early 2017.


Did the use of drone filming make a real difference to the kind of footage you can capture and show of this amazing country?
As I mentioned earlier much of Brazil is very flat. Showing 'scale' and 'depth' is very hard because there is never a high vantage point to position the camera on. So using the drone to fly above my motorcycle allows the audience to feel the landscape and get a better sense of what it might be like to “ride” through such beautiful and remote places. I believe using the drone in our filmmaking will bring another element of adventure and understanding to our audience. It is a very effective tool for filmmaking.


What have you learnt most from doing this latest journey?
These motorcycle adventures are all encompassing. They educate, overwhelm and inspire you all at the same time. The learning process is mainly two-fold. First you obviously learn a lot about the country you are traveling in, and its people and what their lives are like; this is where we get involved in our extra-circular actives and this is where the majority of my friendships are made. In my mind these experiences are priceless and very rewarding; and this is basically external learning.
The second process of learning is internal. It is about self-reflection, personal growth and a deeper understanding of “self”. These motorcycle adventures are incredibly challenging, how does one deal with these challenges? How does one react to internal and external pressures? How does one react to problem solving within a team environment? How does one react when Mother Nature tries to kill you again and again and again? These trips allow you to find your breaking point; they allow you to understand how to work within a team in very challenging situations and to understand your own weakness and strengths in a most pure sense. This process of self-understanding and self-reflection is also priceless; as rarely in our distracted urban lives to we really give ourselves an opportunity to “test our resolve”.
If you have weak character, if you like to blame others before yourself, if you lose your temper over small issues…you won’t last one day on a Tough Ride; you won’t last one hour in the Amazon. It is not about finding a “Zen” state, it is about pushing yourself beyond your limits and maintaining respect; respect for yourself, respect for your team, respect for the country you are traveling in and respect for the dangers that Mother Nature is putting in your way.


What’s next for Ryan Pyle?
I am currently filming for two months in Canada, and the going is amazing. And obviously with the success of our production in Brazil there is a lot more activity on the television production front. I’ll be going in to production on Season #2 of my Extreme Treks series in late August, which is on Discovery Channel and there might be a project in the USA at some stage before Christmas as well. Lots to be done!

 

Thanks Ryan! Tough Rides: Brazil starring Ryan Pyle will be shown on the Travel Channel starting 23 July 2016


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