After some tough decision-making and a terrific selection weekend, the participants in the Touratech project “United People of Adventure” have now been decided. The six riders will set off on a Madagascar expedition with Ramona and Herbert Schwarz in April and Overland’s mate July Behl is one of them!
The chemistry was spot-on from the beginning. Candidates from all over the world, of different ages, nationalities, beliefs and personalities, instantly became friends. And once again, the selection weekend showed that adventure riders are in fact very special people. However, this made the decision for Touratech CEO Herbert Schwarz and his wife Ramona even more difficult.
Although the couple had originally hoped that the weekend together with a combination of information, team-building and getting-to-know-each-other would make it easier to choose the participants for the trip to Madagascar in April, they soon realised that the reality was quite different. “We became very fond of all of the finalists, and to be honest we’d like to take them all with us.” But in fact, the dream of exploring the world’s fourth-largest island on a motorbike could only come true for one rider from each continent.
After a guided tour of Touratech HQ, the selection of personal equipment, riding adventure bikes on an indoor motocross track, a travel workshop and a project presentation, it was time to get down to business. Various behavioural and personality tests and four tricky team tasks would provide further information on the applicants’ characters, weaknesses and strengths.
Skill, coordination, memory, intellect and constructive talent were required, but so too were consideration and self-control. The candidates had to crack a secret code, beat a “hot wire” and construct a form of passenger transportation using wooden dowels and lengths of wool. All of this created a picture in the end that decided which six participants were the best matches for “United People of Adventure”.
One of the most emotional moments was undoubtedly when the finalists had to explain why their fellow applicants absolutely had to go along on the trip to Madagascar. Nothing was false or made up, but instead the often amusing and sometimes thoughtful statements spoke of genuine warmth, respect and friendship. In an amazingly short time, strangers had become friends. The strong connection between the team members was evident in every word and gesture. There was only one downer over the selection weekend: Ismail Kirumira of Uganda, the second African candidate, did not receive a visa. “We would have loved to have him along; he would undoubtedly have enriched the group,” Herbert and Ramona expressed their regret.
But there was no avoiding it – choices had to be made, and Herbert and Ramona quite clearly found it difficult to announce their decision after an in-depth consultation with Syntura team trainer Fiona Hesse. “They are fabulous candidates, and the decision was one of the most difficult I have had to make in my life,” emphasised Herbert Schwarz. “Regardless of where you’re from and what you do, if you share a passion, then things simply work. This weekend confirmed that most impressively,” he summed up.
In order to reduce the tension a little, at the last minute the decision was made to move the awards ceremony into the whirlpool of the accommodation. Although “awards ceremony” is probably the wrong word, because there were only winners. Even the entrants who didn’t make it onto the UPoA team took with them not only a full set of riding gear courtesy of Touratech, but also lifelong memories of an unforgettable weekend, some interesting new knowledge about themselves and some important advice from the team trainer: “Carry on riding your bikes, get to know other people and different cultures, and make the world a better place”. And who can argue with that?
These are the team members of “United People of Adventure”:
Omar Mansour, 42, Egypt (Yamaha XT 1200 Z Super Ténéré)
July Behl, 34, India (KTM 1190 Adventure R)
Andrea Box, 25 (Triumph Tiger 800 XCX)
Inga Birna Erlingsdóttir, 37, Iceland (Honda CRF 1000L Africa Twin)
Benjamin Myers, 38, California (Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro)
Gunther Fischli, 39, Brazil (Suzuki DL 1000 V-Strom)
Ramona Schwarz, 39 (BMW F 800 GS ADV)
Herbert Schwarz, 55 (BMW R 1200 GS Desierto 4)