The United People of Adventure project will tour the North-Eastern corner of Madagascar during a 10-day trip in April this year. It’s understandably being billed as a “one of a kind journey” and will include some charity work at a local school. Herbert and Ramona Schwarz from Touratech are leading the ride, supported by a small group of motorcycling journalists, photographers, and film-makers. The team will be completed by six of the dozen finalists – one from each continent.
Around 200 video applications were submitted to Touratech for consideration, some of which you may have seen some circulating around Facebook over the past couple of months. Herbert Schwarz commented that:
Some are amusing, some are deep, some are arty and creative, some biographical, but they all have one thing in common: a passion for travelling on two wheels. Out of all the applications, there isn’t a single rider we wouldn’t love to take on the trip with us.
But in the end a choice had to be made and the twelve finalists who’ll be visiting Touratech in Germany later this month for the last phase of the selection process are: Ismail Kirumira (30) from Uganda; Omar Mansour (42) from Egypt; Taro Mitzutani (50) from Japan; July Behl (34) from India; Robert Davies (52) and Andrea Box (25) from Australia; Gunther Fischli (39) and Rosa Freitag (46) from Brazil; Benjamin Myers (38) from the USA; Claude Auchu (47) from Canada; and Gudmundur Björnsson (58) and Inga Birna Erlingsdóttir (37) from Iceland.
Having had the pleasure of meeting July Behl at numerous Horizons Unlimited events, I was delighted to receive a message from him earlier today with the exciting news. This is some of what he had to say:
United People of Adventure is a great initiative by Touratech. Bringing together adventure motorcyclists from all over the world to ride together, have fun, and at the same time get involved in a local charity – what’s not to like?!
In times where so many companies approach corporate social responsibility as a box-ticking exercise, it’s refreshing to come across organisations like Touratech. They are genuinely interested and through the United People of Adventure project are giving back – not only to the adventure community but also to the Madagascans.
I’m really looking forward to the get-together at Touratech HQ at the end of February and of course I’m hoping I’ll make the final team. Wish me luck!
Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and boasts a unique ecosystem that’s developed in isolation from Mozambique, its closest neighbour. The Malagasy economy is based around its natural resources, including the cultivation of coffee, paddy rice, vanilla, and cloves, and a growing tourism industry, yet it remains one of the world’s poorest countries and relies heavily on foreign aid. Madagascar was a French colony from the late 1800s until 1960 and French is still widely spoken. Since gaining independence from France, the island has been plagued with on-going political instability.
The United People of Adventure team members will be riding brand new adventure bikes, specifically the Ducati Multistrada Enduro, Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom, Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré, BMW R1200GS Adventure, BMW F800GS Adventure, Honda African Twin 1000, and the KTM 1190 Adventure, and they’ll all be equipped with the latest Touratech travel gear, such as the Compañero suit, Aventuro helmet, and Destino boots.
So what sort of riding might the final team expect to encounter? The only adventure motorcyclist really qualified to answer that question is Tiffany Coates. She’s spent more time riding in Madagascar than any other foreign biker, including a three-month solo stint, and will be returning again later this year. Here’s what Tiffany had to say…
Madagascar is a country of extremes with lush jungles, tropical coral reefs, beautiful beaches, tsingy forests, savannah plains and desert, all crammed onto this island in the Indian Ocean. It’s a distillation of the best of Africa and with 50,000 kms of roads and yet barely 10% of them paved, it’s an adventure motorcyclist’s dream destination.
Despite having previously crossed every continent, it was this island that gave me the biggest challenge of my riding life. Making my way down the notorious east coast an unmapped and perilous route that was a nightmare to endure at times and yet has proven to be the most memorable ride I’ve ever done. I snorkelled through mud, slid down rocky faces, crossed numerous rivers in tiny dugout canoes and fishtailed through deep sand – all on the motorbike. Madagascar is an adventure not to be underestimated.
With that in mind, I wish July and his fellow finalists the very best of luck for the selection weekend at Touratech. There’s no doubt the chosen six will have an adventure to remember!
Overland Junction will be offering its support to the project by providing each rider with a free Milestones membership.
Images courtesy of Touratech, Tiffany Coates, and July Behl