ESPOO, Finland – Sprayed with mud, coated in dust, and drenched by torrential rain in humidity so high that their clothes felt glued to their skin, a group of Finnish motorcyclists emerged from the jungles and mountain trails of Laos with one thing intact . . . their Nokia N8s. Intrepid bikers Jyri Koski’s and Ari Vaara tested the handset to its limit recently by using it to film their travel documentary the Dirtbike Diaries.
The short film created by the two IT professionals displays a passion for action and adventure and records the dry season suddenly turning into fog-filled rainy days; tires struggling to grip clay-clogged mountain trails; and the travelers becoming dehydrated from the constant heat.
Considering such conditions, it might surprise you that only three phones were taken on the trip, and that they all stood up to the challenges that would be too much for many a lesser phone.“They are surprisingly hard-wearing. I don’t remember any problems with them on earlier trips either, despite the fact that we often attach them to the motorcycle’s frame and ride on gravel roads or in dust,” says Jyri Koski who works for Nokia and wanted to test the phone’s video quality. He is very pleased with the results.
“The picture quality is very good. We will upload the film on the internet in HD. It’s great to see that material filmed with a phone’s camera is also well-suited for the TV screen,” the creator of the brand new movie says.
Mobile technology also played a part in the planning of the journey, as Jyri’s and Ari’s route was formed by combining satellite maps. They looked for footpaths and side roads that are not even marked on maps, with the intention of getting off the beaten track. Finally, by combining various maps, route alternatives were planned and then saved on the team’s phones. This meant they would always have access to a road map that can’t be found in shops.
When filming, Jyri’s and Ari’s roles are clearly defined: Jyri stays behind the camera most of the time, recording memorable scenery, people and above all the sheer thrill of motorbike riding, while Ari acts as narrator, presenting locations and the challenges they face. The desire to go on motorbike trips and venture beyond the normal tourist routes originates from Jyri’s childhood.
“I must have been seven or ten when I saw some motorcycle competitions. I fell completely in love with what they were doing – I became obsessed with riding a motorbike in the jungle. That’s where all of this stems from. Riding a motorbike in the jungle is definitely the best thing,” Jyri says, although he admits that the last trip included more hazardous situations than usual.
“At one point, the surface of the road condensed into a hard clay that was covered by rainwater. It was like riding on ice. We slid for hundreds of meters down the hill as though we were on snowboards,” Jyri recalls. Finally, we came to a halt somewhere in the mountains of Laos.
“Our motorbikes broke down on a secluded mountain road and we waited there for a day, after which we hiked back to the nearest village along footpaths,” Jyri says as I watch a scene of the film in which the weary travelers drink water collected on tree leaves to avoid dehydration.
Finally, help was provided by the local townsfolk, and the motorbikes were brought down from the mountains. Despite these tough experiences, Jyri says that a new trip and a film are already in the pipeline. The next destination is Africa. The Dirtbike Diaries saga continues at the address www.dirtbikediaries.com.