Travel Event 2016: adventure and wanderlust
Touratech's 2016 Travel Event was entirely under the banner of wanderlust and adventure. Even though the weather forecasts were bad - and luckily wrong, as it turned out - about 12,000 visitors in total enjoyed a programme which was both informative and inspiring, offering many opportunities for on-road and off-road riding.
Two days earlier, the land was still under water after a thunderstorm with heavy rainfall hit the area of Niedereschach, flooding streets and basements. It's been a brilliant achievement of the organizers that the Travel Event could take place as planned.
Those undeterred by the unstable weather prognosis have been welcomed by beautiful sunshine on Friday. Visitors from all parts of the world - amongst them Touratech distributors from France, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey, India, Chile, Canada and Australia - came to meet new and old friends and to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the Travel Event: an international "family meeting" of motorcycle travellers.
A very special reunion was celebrated by the „United People of Adventure“ (UPoA). The last time they saw each other, they were 8,500 kilometres away. On Saturday evening, they enjoyed the premiere of Touratech's new movie about their Madagascar trip with Ramona and Herbert Schwarz. The sales proceeds of this DVD, available as of July / August, will go to an orphanage in Antalaha, which will also be supported by Touratech in future. At Anoushka Paula's stand, visitors could get a piece of Madagascar and take it home. The sale of artistic craftwork and spices from her homeland, UPoA team t-shirts and an artistically designed coffee table book also served this purpose.
70 exhibitors turned the Touratech grounds into one big area of festivities. With BMW, Ducati, Honda, KTM, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha, all the leading motorcycle manufacturers were present, most of them with impressive show trucks. Many took advantage of the offer to try various bikes on just one weekend.
If you preferred sitting on your own bike, there were plenty of opportunities with guided tours, ride-outs and training sessions. Most offers had been booked out immediately. There were more than 1,000 online registrations for the 760 places available. 60 guides, amongst them eleven women, accompanied 82 trips, they introduced their favourite tracks and gave inside tips. Participants could find out where "Fox and Rabbit say Good Night", they could follow the trail of “Witches and Forest Spirits”, or experience a "Curve Tsunami". A special treat was the “Black Forest Whiskey Tour”, booked out after just one hour, and the surprise tour "Girls only".
The most popular activities were those that gave riders the opportunity to ride their bikes off-road - entirely legally. A special permission enabled them to experience the Black Forest pureness on usually strictly forbidden tracks. The new off-road park „Ultraterrain“ in Geisingen with its challenging forest passages, water crossings and artificial obstacles turned out to be a real adventure playground for travel enduro bike riders. There was such a great demand that additional offers had to be put in.
But there was also much going on on the Touratech grounds all day: Lectures and workshops on subjects such as travel preparation, photography, navigation and the choice of tyres were parts of the programme as well as behind-the-scenes tours, second sale, and interviews and presentations on the main stage. With ACT (Adventure Country Tracks), a project was introduced that enables you to experience the adventure of your dreams within the timeframe of your annual holidays. The first in a row of several planned ACTs is a five-day, self-guided tour across Portugal, worked out by experienced Touratech scouts.
Beginners had the opportunity to try some off-road riding and to refine their skills under professional guidance on the very same terrain where a year ago, the final of the GS Trophy had been carried out. Show rides performed by the Enduro-Park Hechlingen showed how to make it right, while coach Ramney Stroud gave lessons in theoretical basic knowledge.
A movie about the successful performance of Touratech's Honda Africa Twin RR at the Hellas Rally, presented by Dirk Schäfer, made the hearts of off-road fans beat faster.
As international as the guests were also the lectures on the agenda, leading from Alaska across Russia and the Pyrenees down to Africa, South America and New Zealand. The evening events on the main stage were also under the banner of wanderlust and adventure.
The multimedia show „Am Ende der Straße“ ("At the End of the Road") showed how Dylan Samarawickrama, grown up in poverty in Sri Lanka, made his biggest dream come true: With his motorbike, he travelled more than 200,000 kilometres across five continents, and even the Pacific Ocean couldn't stop him. When all the roads suddenly ended in Panama, he didn't hesitate to build a motorcycle-powered raft to get to Colombia.
Thrilling, diverting and entertaining were the highlights and anecdotes presented by Michael Martin. With his lecture „25 Jahren mit der GS um die Welt“ ("Around the World with the GS in 25 years"), especially composed for Touratech, he proved once again why he can fill the biggest halls.
The drizzling rain on Saturday evening was nothing compared to what the „United People of Adventure“ dealt with during their motorcycle tour across Madagascar. Their battles with mud, water and rigours of nature are all captured in an exciting documentary that had its premiere at the Travel Event, greatly applauded by the audience.