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N A M I B I A - 2 0 1 4

I find the inspiration for my paintings in countries that are shaped by different cultures and where the original meets the western way of life. I am not interested in the differences - what connects me captivates me: Belief systems, dealing with nature and the available resources. All of this helps to learn from one another and to be able to live together. The sketches, notes and photos of my travels then form the basis of my image designs in my Cologne studio.


















In the last ten years I have been touring Australia with my motorcycle for a few months off the beaten track. The experience with the team on my last tour of Australia made it urgently necessary to adapt the chassis components to the high loads on the natural routes.


















For my upcoming trip to Namibia, all the bikes should be interchangeable, the weight distribution had to be optimized and other details on the motorcycle improved. In Herbert Weiland, I had an experienced consultant in the planning of a completely new sidecar frame, which I developed with the help of a 3D program and repeatedly expanded it with Weiland's ideas until a construction came out that was consistent both in terms of design and purpose. A template made of wood, which I created based on the technical drawings, served as a measure and form specification for the construction of the sidecar.


















For this, Weiland put a lot of effort into producing the round tubes into an excellently crafted frame that exactly met the jointly developed specifications. Since the subframe on my 1150 GS would be loaded on one side by the attachment of the sidecar, we have optimized it for extreme use on desert soil and mogul slopes.

By redesigning the instrument panel, the new windshield and the navigation system could be placed within optimal reach of the driver.


I had the aluminum luggage system made for my purposes with dust and waterproof lids and supplemented it with BMW aluminum cases. I developed a system whereby all luggage could be accessed quickly and easily. An additional aluminum bracket between the sidecar and the rear wheel holds the luggage rolls with a favorable center of gravity.


















Now it was still a matter of eliminating known weaknesses and preparing for the upcoming hardships. At the motorcycle fair in Dortmund I spoke to Herbert Schwarz from Touratech about my experiences on the Australian slopes. On my last trip, the simmering seal on the sidecar strut leaked after a brief load. A new shock absorber that my wife brought with her from Germany had the same defect after only ten kilometers, which unfortunately meant that we could only drive asphalt roads with the loaded trailer. We had imagined our trip to Australia to be a little different. Herbert Schwarz advised me - since I had already tested it myself - to the new suspension struts co-developed by Touratech. They are currently considered to be the most reliable


















The Touratech Nord company (Axel Funke) carried out the rest of the work. After I set up the weight distribution (loaded approx. 700 kg), the suspension struts were manufactured, a sintered clutch was installed, the electronics were optimized and an overall technical test was carried out shortly before departure. For the tires, the Immler company vulcanized the “Hakaa profile” on new carcasses, which is suitable for use on the slopes. Finally, six weeks before the start, the team could be stowed in a wooden box specially built for this purpose and shipped to Namibia - Walvis Bay by the Hamburg forwarding company Andreas Eber. The forwarding agent also took care of the customs formalities on site, as agreed, so I was able to take over the motorcycle within half a day. After completing the trip, the shipping company took over the entire handling of the transport back to Hamburg. My journey, for which I had seven weeks, led through different fantastic desert landscapes. I came across cultures with partly still very original ways of life.


















The first stage of my 7,000 km journey took me from Walvis Bay to the Kunene region and a small part of Kaokoveld to the Angolan border. I didn't have much time to adjust to the driving characteristics of the 700 kg team. The newly leveled road surface changed seamlessly to completely rutted slopes. Pads with coarse, stony desert soil and granite sand followed fine sandy sections with 20 cm deep, vehicle-wide lanes, sections of road with solidified sand waves (filled with drifting sand) and small dunes - man and machine were put to the extreme test. Thanks to the new chassis setup and the grip of the Hakaa tire tread, the team was always easy to control at a reasonable speed.


















Except for small repairs caused by the material-consuming slopes and occasional cleaning of the air filter, this time I was able to enjoy my tour without any problems and experience new, impressive landscapes.


















My wife, who enthusiastically drove in the enduro sidecar from the second half of the Namibia trip, noticed that our team absorbed the blows of the corrugated iron slopes with much more driving comfort and therefore more back-friendly than the four-wheel-drive van that we used for a day tour through Etosha Park booked.


















I made my first long stopover in Opuwo. This region with the predominantly Herero and Himba living here, who at least partially retain their ethnic characteristics and culture to this day, impressed and fascinated me enormously. On my exploration trips into the area, the team was curiously admired by the people living there. The contact was always friendly and, after asking, I was able to move around, take photos and draw without any complications.


















Sitting in the dust on the earth, at eye level with the people of the different regions, I managed to feel the scenic and cultural diversity and the experiences and impressions of this special country and to take them home with me.


















Now I'm curious and excited to see what will develop from the impressions and recordings of this trip in my Cologne studio: a symbiosis of the technical and emotional fragments, presented in a photo show with live music, an experience report or in paintings. This part of my journey begins now and is just as exciting and uncertain as the 7,000 kilometers that have passed on African soil.


Photo: Claus Knobel - Anne Raatz
Text: Claus Knobel - Carmen Kreinjobst

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