My passion for travel and all things powered by internal combustion engines, started early. The very first trip could have been the last. It was not only the craziest of them all, but most probably the most dangerous as well. In 1979, with no experience at all, and thin as a rail, I packed my Yamaha XT 500 with the intention to cross the Sahara desert from Algeria to Niger. The local newspaper from my beautiful German hometown of Würzburg featured my planned endeavour on an entire page. That’s how I got some fame – and the bike and some spare parts at a decent price from the local dealer.
My parents were embarrassed though. ‘He will never even make it to Spain, what will the neighbours say’. Well, that’s why I wrote my first postcard from another continent. Africa. Maroc to be exact.
I had Malaria in Benin, was locked up in Niger and survived a two-day sandstorm in Algeria. And I made it back to Würzburg to tell the story. By the way, I wasn’t thin as a rail anymore. The constant lifting up of the bike in deep sand added some serious bulk to my body. It was my coming of age. And nothing was ever really difficult afterwards.
I subsequently studied geography, geology and economics, in between travelling the entire world. I financed all this with odd job, such as driving taxis in the night and transferring used Mercedes cars overland, from Germany to Syria. What I enjoyed most, was taking pics and writing about my experiences. Finally ending up at a big publishing house in Stuttgart to get more acquainted with the journalistic handcraft.
In December 1993 a German airline invited me to take any motorbike with me to Johannesburg – and back from Cape Town, to promote their planned fly-and-ride program.
What a cool idea. I chose the then brand-new Triumph Enduro. I thought it appropriate to release a Tiger in Africa. And you guessed it by now, I did fall in love with South Africa, gave up my – in the meantime well-paid and strongly envied – editor’s job and settled in Cape Town shortly afterwards. Up until then, I was convinced, that one day I would live in the States, having visited America more than 30 times until then.
But at least I kept a strong connection to the States. The original New York Checker taxicab, I bought in Manhattan in 1999, subsequently cruising more than 15 000 kilometres all across the country. After arriving in the Cape she loved the sun, blue skies and friendly people as much as her driver. She is fondly known as the Cab of Good Hope.
In 2004 I started writing in English and I have been GQ South Africa’s motoring editor ever since. Still writing selected motoring and lifestyle features for them. But with the passion in my name, it was finally time to launch my own brand.
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