Episode 9 – The reunion

What Fantala tore asunder Niedereschach sought to rebuild – or replace. To give closure to a small group of adventure riders, to bring together the United People of Adventure 2016 for one last time.

Perhaps that wasn’t the intention. The UPoA riders were at the Travel Event in June primarily to help promote the film of their adventure, there for the world premiere, to walk the virtual red carpet, to meet their audience. It was a new experience for all, being just normal people – not racers, not celebrities – to meet the public; to be in a situation where a stranger knows so much more about you – and you nothing of them – takes some adjusting to. So there were interviews with the press, interviews on stage, book signings (a UPoA book was released just in time for the event), so many conversations, and there was the matter of watching ten days of their lives being portrayed on the big screen to a crowd of 4000 – all of it, as with the UPoA itself, not normal everyday experiences.

The UPoA bikes, alas, did not make the event – again taking the long way home, they got as close as Hamburg before customs procedures halted their progress, so there was no reunion of man/woman and machine. Instead the UPoA team saddled up on a few of the other 150 motorcycles that form the Touratech collection, and went for a group tour of the Black Forest, taking in the sights, the sounds and the smells. Even experiencing the fear when some bright spark suggested the UPoA team stood on a mightily tall reservoir dam wall to make a cool photograph.

The UPoA riders also continued their efforts to further support the orphans of Orphelinat d’Antalaha, manning a UPoA stand at the event, selling Madagascan produce and goods(vanilla and pepper proving popular) as well as the UPoA book to help raise funds. Here they also stood alongside other ‘stars’ of the UPoA – Madagascans, Anoushka from Ocean Momo and the lead support rider in the ‘moto-taxi’ (as Herbert named the crew), Dominique – and his wife. A first visit to Europe for both.

With the UPoA riders sharing a dormitory at Chez Schwarz there was plenty of time for the team to reconnect and reflect on their shared experiences. In so many ways the reunion was cathartic, bringing together loose ends, healing the wounds – both literal in Omar’s case, and psychological (that old north-south thing) – and reconnecting friendships. The only sadness – that this was the end of the road for UPoA 1. Or is it…?!

Quotes-AndreaAndrea Box, UPoA Australia:
It’s been lovely, like a family reunion. When we all left Madagascar we were all counting down the days to when we’d see each other again, and in a lot of ways, as amazing as it’s been, it’s also been a bit sad as there’s no foreseeable catch-up of our little adventure family. It’s bitter-sweet!

Even the film crew became part of our family in Madagascar, but I kind of forgot this was everybody else’s adventure as well, the idea that people have been following along with our adventure, and loving it, is wonderful, to share a trip that was so unique – it’s very cool.
Day-to-day life is never quite so much fun after this; when you’re on such a trip it feels like your perception of the world becomes technicolour, so vivid, acute, you notice sounds and smells and you notice things that normally pass you by. So when you get home it all seems a little beige! Travel just seems to feed the addiction, and the better the trip the bigger withdrawals!
Quotes-OmarOmar Mansour, UPoA Africa
Those guys, I can now see clearly I have a good friend, a brother or sister, on every continent, we had such a great time here in Germany in February, we had a good time in Madagascar too – although for me it was shorter – and to be reunited here again is really really nice. Looking back, I felt I was with you guys even when I went away, but to be here with the nice people who helped me so much when I had my accident, it’s touching.

Now can I interest you in a camel? It is a nice camel, a red camel, low mileage...
July Behl, UPoA Asia
This has been absolutely brilliant and after watching the film there’s definitely been some closure. At the same time there’s sadness because we don’t know what will happen next, when we’ll see each other again, but hopefully we’ll be organising a reunion ride either in Australia or Iceland, maybe next year, I think that will be phenomenal. It’s good to see everybody, I wish them all safe riding, many more trips and here’s to happy days and lifelong friendships.
I think I can just about ride anywhere now that I’ve ridden in Madagascar, I don’t think there’s any road or off-road that could intimidate me now, and especially on the big KTM – everything is just beautiful now! With this trip we learned about relying on each other, the dependency on each other in those gnarly conditions proved you need to have a good team, not only to ride better but to have a good time after you’ve ridden.
If Touratech must have another UPoA I think they should stick with the same group, we should be the permanent United People of Adventure!
Quotes-GummiGudmundur Björnsson, UPoA Europe
The reunion has been fantastic, unbelievable, it’s like meeting up with old friends you’ve known for a long time, but we’ve only known each other since February, just a few months. It’s a heartwarming feeling, like being with family, so saying goodbye again also feels bad, but I know we are going to see each other again, through reunions and by going on rides together, definitely.
The film was magnificent, a work of art, Wolfgang’s production, the music – it was beyond my expectations. I relived the journey and got the sense of the feelings we had, the happy moments.
The experience has imprinted in me what I have been slowly realising – that I must make best use of the rest of my life, the best years I have. While I have my health and ability to travel on the motorcycle I shall travel as much as I can, as far as I can, with good friends.
Benjamin Myers, UPoA North America
The reunion was wonderful, it was great to see everyone again, I loved being able to introduce my wife to everyone, that was a highlight.

Again my feelings are the same for everyone in the team, a joy to see everyone and relive those experiences, lot of fun. My emotional reaction to seeing the film? Still bummed about going north, I still have a question mark in my head, what if? It’s there, in my heart or my soul, wherever it is.

Creating the UPoA book brought back great memories, it’s a different way to experience the trip; the film is great, but the creating the drawings meant a lot to me, sitting down drawing out every line brought back those memories. I want to do it all over again.
At home everyone is jealous, they can’t believe I got chosen, had this life-changing experience. But the trip reminded me that adventure is a big part of my life. It is why I fell in love with my wife, because she’s an adventurous woman, she’s travelled the world. I can remember when I was 17 or 18, my dad asked if I could do anything what would I do? I told him I’d travel the world, experience places, culture, food. So I think this has reawakened that love and passion for exploring
I’m so thankful for the opportunity and the people that I met. To share it with 4-5000 people was huge, it’s something special to be able to share the trip like this.
Gunther Fischli, UPoA South America
It was great to see everybody again, it was as if we’d been apart for 24 hours and now we are back together, it’s the friendships, the familiarity, the feeling of comfort – awesome! It was fun to be together. It was awesome in the bunkhouse, too, like brothers and sisters, eating together, sharing everything, it was completely comfortable, like an old sock! Just put it on, feels right!
My wife tells me I came home a better husband and a better father. She tells me that I experienced a release of energy that got me one step closer to being domesticated. But really I think it opened some floodgates for me, looking into the future I want to do a lot more of this, maybe the UPoA group will go to Iceland or Australia, together as friends, so I’m really excited about doing more of this!
Robert Davies, UPoA semi-finalist, and tour doctor/photographer
It’s been fantastic, it’s been like any true friendship – you just take up where you left off last time and I think that’s a measure of the strength of the bond between us that we take up where we left off.
I thought the film was a good representation of what happened; a brilliant, sensitive, beautifully edited film by Wolfgang. And I think the tone of the film reflect Wolfgang’s gentle personality, it was put together beautifully. I think that’s exactly what Wolfgang is like, I think he’s a beautiful guy.
It wasn’t about six UPoA people, it wasn’t just about them, it respected that they didn’t exist inside a bubble, it was all about the support we got from the locals as well as each other, all those interactions that made up what was UPoA. And that’s why it works so beautifully.
Side effects of the UPoA? Fame glory, recognition! The fact that yesterday somebody came up to the booth and said I’m such and such, and I said I’m Robert Davies, and he replied, I know who you are because I’ve been following this UPoA assiduously the whole time. I know who you are! This is the whole 15 minutes of fame thing!
Quotes-RamonaRamona Schwarz, UPoA originator, Touratech
I was very much looking forward to the reunion, I’m so happy to see my family together again. It feels like we have grown up together, at the same time I’m a little bit sad as again we must part ways, but I hope the friendship will last forever.

The feedback from the people watching the film was good beyond expectations, they loved the film because it had many different characters and views of the world, it wasn’t a superhero show, it was about ordinary people doing something extraordinary, which was what we wanted.
There will definitely be UPoA 2; I already have a rough plan of where we will go but I won’t reveal it because I like surprises, but I will say it will be very hard to top Madagascar because we had a perfect team – many people commended us, saying through it all we laughed a lot and seemed to love each other. It will be different then, so I’m looking forward to the new UPoA team while of course I’ll miss the old guys. Actually there’s just the one thing I’m a little scared about – the application videos, with 200 (last time) it was a slow and painful process and I can only expect we’ll see many more applications this time. And this is something that I won’t delegate!

Please help us – every small gesture counts! By purchasing the following products you can help:

Illustrated book "United People of Adventure - Madagascar 2016"
- 150 pages -
Meet our "United People of Adventure" and the Touratech team in this book! Breathtaking images and beautiful illustrations show wonderful snapshots but also the adverse circumstances that made the expedition a true adventure.

You can get your copy here.
01-201-2300-0_i_01DVD "United People of Adventure - Madagascar 2016"
- English subtitled -
The film tells the story of this journey. Of how the shared passion for motorcycle traveling creates a strong bond between people. Of how different cultures meet in extreme conditions. Of an extraordinary team performance, the true spirit of adventure and of friendships for life forged on rugged slopes.

Get the DVD here.
T-shirt "UPOA 2016 Madagascar"
- men & women -
Our “United People of Adventure” team experienced not just one but a whole lot of adventures on their Madagascar expedition.
Join the adventure with the original "UPOA" fan shirt!

You can get your shirt here.

With the purchase of this products you support orphans in Madagascar. The proceeds go to Orphelinat d’Antalaha!

If you like to make a donation, please get in touch with Ramona Schwarz (ramona.schwarz@touratech.de) – Thank you!

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