I had the great honor to attend the 54th International meeting for Globetrotter Bikers, organized by the well-known German legend Bernd Tesch.
About Bernd Tesch one can fill books with his legendary rides. Among the many firsts that he achieved was the first crossing of Europe / Russia /. Siberia from the Atlantic to the Pacific (Vladivostok) by bike.
The now 70 year old Bernd is sporting a huge beard but is still energetic as a young man. Bikers from as far as Canada and Brazil were invited and attended.
What made this meeting so special? Well, to start with, adventurers do camp, even if it is snowing. We didn’t have snow but some cold weather and rain and mud and mud and mud … Saturday at noon the temperature was still only 3 degrees!
It was freezing cold in my little tent. I thought I had a warm sleeping bag but after this freezing weekend I know that I do NOT have a warm sleeping bag. Mine is a bag sporting the label “Comfortable to -5 degrees”. I was not comfortable. I was freezing!
I arrived on Friday at 18:00 and as I got out of the car I immediately got a bear-hug from the legendary Tesch and he greeted me on my name. Amazing.
During the course of the night riders arrived at the camp. Only the invited got the GPS waypoints of it and they had to find the camp on that, which was on a green meadow next to a river and surrounded by forest on three sides. One had to cross the river (thanks for my rental car which hit a few bad stones but got through!) and then a muddy track with thick sticky slippery mud that caused the riders a few anxious moments.
Bernd organized the biggest bonfire I ever had seen and all the riders formed a close circle to soak up some heat.
The whole Saturday was spent indoors in the presentation room of a hotel, listening to the most interesting presentations and the introduction of some riders. I was warmly greeted by the riders.
However, the biggest impression I will have from the meeting is that riding my KLR from South Africa up to the Russian border was a big achievement for me, but in world standards it is NOTHING. It was an awesome experience to have at the same time NINE (!) people on the stage that rode around the world! N I N E people!
The highlight for me was to meet the legendary Rob and Dafne de Jong from the Netherlands. They were the first to ride down the African continent on the west side and up again on the eastern side, using a sidecar! Dafne and Rob rode three times around a world each on their own bikes, using different routes each time. Furthermore they have an impressive list of rides, of which any of those rides would be for most of us a lifetime highlight!
I met Dafne on the internet back in 2008 and she spent much time to give me advice on information about Russia and Siberia. For a world traveller she made a huge effort to answer all my novice questions. And yesterday Rob came and handed me two gifts which I will wear with proud as coming from a very special couple.
I met people who didn’t want only to dream but were prepared to give up so much to realize their dreams. One couple sold their house, gave up everything and then rode around the world. They are back home now with a new glow in their eyes, poorer but so much richer. I met a lady who rode her bike a stunning 390 000 km’s! And suddenly I realised how little is 90 000 km on the KLR! I met and listened to riders who met their now wifes on their trips. One elderly gent, a photographer, who did a splendid presentation, met his wife in a coffee bar in Morocco. He saw her, went back, started chatting, exchanged addresses, and today they are happily married and she travels with him on her own bike. And I met travellers who left Germany and went living in the countries where they met their wifes.
The most impressive was that none of these people said they had done their journeys for the sake of setting records. The golden line through all the jouneys was that they travelled for the sake of travelling and meeting people.
Today I am returning to South Africa with a new and deep respect for all those bikers on the long road fulfilling their dreams. To meet them was like moving to a new dimension of travelling.
It was a “sacred” moment facing all these people who endured so much, sacrificed so much, and live now with a new spirit and peace in their hearts.
And for the first time ever I wondered whether I mustn’t complete the missing sections of a around the world trip …