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TNT caught up with Canadian Ryan Pyle - star of the Tough Rides television series.

Canadian Ryan Pyle is a Shanghai based Motorcycle adventurer, award winning photographer, public speaker and documentary film maker who found fame while circumnavigating China, together with his brother, on motorbikes. 

The trip saw them earn a Guinness World Record for the longest continuous single motorcycle journey within a country (16,240 km in just over two months) and spawned a feature length film: Tough: Rides China

Ryan and his sibling did the same in India in 2012 - and turned it into Tough Rides: India. Both series have been broadcast on the Travel Channel and the Discovery Channel.

Fast forward to 2016 and Ryan has recently completed a solo ride across Brazil - which he’s turned into Tough Rides: Brazil. 

Ahead of the series premiere TNT spoke to the Tough Rides star…

How does it feel to go from the jungles of Brazil to the heaving metropolis of Shanghai?
It feels very strange to be back home in Shanghai, China. The intensity of my journey in Brazil, riding 10-12 hours per day plus all of the filming that needed to be completed, was really exciting and incredibly difficult. To be back at home in Shanghai now, with all my modern comforts feels like an out-of-body experience. It is completely mind-bending. No longer am I sleeping in a hammock in the Amazon wondering what bugs and wild animals might attack me in the night: now I’m back working out in the gym and enjoying catching up with friends at my local cafe.
In many ways it is these contrasts that I have just described that I am most interested in exploring. I love living in a big modern city like Shanghai, but at the same time I love the challenges associated with surviving motorcycle journeys in remote and difficult places. I have a great passion for pushing myself mentally, physically and emotionally through these contrasts. They are incredibly educational and in my own mind they keep life interesting. And of course, the best way to explore challenging locations is on my motorcycle.

 

Did Brazil live up to your expectations? What left the biggest and most lasting impression on you from this journey?When I begin an undertaking like a Tough Rides motorcycle television production I try to have almost no expectations. I pick a country, I do some reading, I set a route and I pray to a higher power. There is no way to begin a 14,000km journey around a country you’ve never been to before and hold any real expectations. My only concern is that I complete my journey safely, and that my team is working in as a safe an environment as possible at that moment. Did Brazil impress? It was more impressive and more incredible than I could have ever imagined.Brazil is an inspiring place, a country of remarkable beauty both in landscape and in the quality of the people. The single thing that left the biggest impression on me during my seventy-day adventure ride was the three-weeks I spent in the Amazon region. The Amazon is flat like a pancake and the heat and the humidity can be unbearable at times, but wow, traveling through the Amazon can also be spectacular. Obviously the roads are horribly muddy and difficult, but these most often lead to beautiful places.

 

How did your motorcycle hold up?
The BMW F800GSA is a remarkable motorcycle and a fantastic companion out in the wilderness. I put nearly 14,000km on the bike in some horrible conditions and the motorcycle just kept coming back for more.
During my trip in Brazil I had four pre-scheduled maintenance stops. These were planned before I left on my journey and were recommended by some of the BMW Motorrad team in Brazil. It turns out that Amazonian mud is just horrible and destroys break-pads, chains and can put a lot of pressure on your clutch. So given that almost half of my journey was through the Amazon getting regular maintenance was really important.
With regards to spare parts, I had extra break-pads and an extra chain and an extra clutch with me during my trip but never needed to make any repairs on my journey beyond the pre-schedule maintenance. My bike was tough, I was incredibly impressed.

How did it feel to do a ‘big trip’ without your brother, Colin Pyle?
Colin’s absence on this trip was felt on day one. You know, my brother and I are incredibly close and we’ve shared in some amazing adventures over the last few years. Standing on Copacabana Beach on day one without him was a bit sad. After we completed our filming and got on our way it was incredibly strange heading out of Rio de Janeiro on my own.
Then obviously you become focused on your daily tasks and riding safe and the trip takes on its own life. But I know my brother would have enjoyed some aspects of the Amazon, especially with its incredibly challenging terrain.
While Colin has retired from the adventure motorcycle television productions he has shifted back in to the entrepreneurial world and opened up an organic coffee company named CRU Kafe; that plus he and his wife are expecting their first child later this summer. So, I’ll be carrying the Tough Rides torch alone moving forward. And that suits me just fine.


Always expect the unexpected but…what was the most unexpected thing that happened to you on this trip?
There were two unexpected things that happened to me on this trip, which I was not really prepared for. The first was that I did not fully anticipate or appreciate the mud of the Amazon. It is remarkable. Some days I would be traveling through mud, and potholes full of mud, that covered the height of the entire motorcycle, up to my chest; and of course the motorcycle would get stuck and I would get stuck and it would take a long time to dig out. The mud of the Amazon is so sticky and nasty and I no idea just how slow this would make our progress. Some days we would spend twelve hours traveling and only cover 60km. Painful.
The second unexpected aspect of my adventure in Brazil was the cold weather. Sure, we all know that Brazil is a tropical country but as we were closing out our journey we passed through the southern province of Santa Catarina and I spent a lot of days riding in weather that was near freezing and raining. Compare that to the multiple days in the Amazon, just 2 weeks prior to that, when I was suffering from heat stroke in 35C weather and 100% humidity. In my reading and my planning for Brazil I feel like I was prepared for the heat, but much less mentally prepared for the colder weather towards the end of our journey.


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The thrill of Brazil
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