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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Meeting the legend, Hubert Kriegel...

So, Saturday, at our Ural dealer we had the honour of meeting and listening to a presentation by Hubert Kriegel.  His friend and fellow traveller on a number of trips, Jean-Louis was there with him. 
I will tell you he is an exceptional man. Not often in life do you get to meet a 67-year-old man travelling the world on his own on a sidecar!

                                            Hubert sharing some of his stories and videos.

Think how many 67-year-old people are sitting somewhere thinking life is over and all I have to show for it is work, work, and work. 
I also thought about how it must be, - like Hubert to own very little, have no real home/house to come to at the end of the day, just the road and the people you meet on the road, - always, every day. ( He travels 24/7/365) Sounds romantic, but in real life?... 
It takes a special kind of person to do this and to thrive in it! I will tell you a few things about him that came out in conversation with him and his presentation.

He is fascinated by the cold – his words. His favourite travels were to the Arctic Circle, Antarctica and the Panama Canal.  The one country he was going to visit again and his favourite is Mongolia. He was attracted to the simplicity of witch the Nomads, +- 1milion people, live and he stayed there a long time there.

                            Hubart and a fellow Uralist joking and looking at a camping stove.

He does not drink, nor go and look for woman – his words, - and thus does not invite trouble’s during all his travels. A simple life philosophy that also goes with the most important mindset he has; there are no mean people in the world. Sure he says, there may be Police, Army or Customs personnel that might be difficult, but if you expect only the good from people then mostly you will find it.

He is not a reader at all! He says he is dyslectic and it takes him months to finish a book, but as soon as he enters a new country he learns all he can about the people, culture and customs.

Sleep is free! He hates to pay to have a place to sleep and as he sleeps as a wild camper on his travels he very seldom will pay more than 10 Euro a night for a room. He loves to eat, and will spend money on good food.

He and Jean-Louis nearly died when crossing the Andes. One night when they camped at 5000 feet, had a bbq of steak and thought they did not have to acclimatise to the altitude! Altitude sickness nearly killed them both. Another time they both were nearly killed by a runaway bus in South America. 
Apart from these two incidents, he has never felt in danger. He does exercise good common sense as any traveller should and never put your-self in stupid situations.

Before he bought the Ural he travelled a bit with a BMW sidecar. He had three times as much mechanical problem’s in a third of the time with the BMW as he had with the Ural. He chose Ural after the BMW as the 2WD was a no brainer in the places he explored. He has never had a major breakdown with the Ural. 
His Ural does not have a name and he will not name it!

He has visited the factory in Irbit on a few occasions with his rig and they have always done only small services for him. His friend Giorgio in Genève made the major custom jobs on his rig. It has some 85 000 + km on the clock. He has tested the new Fuel Injection rigs – as we know, and he will definitely get one as soon as he can afford it! 
Irbit told him they manufacture 1 100 rigs a year and 600 FI types are heading to the US and the rest to the world.

He is still married with two daughters and has a great relationship with his wife, witch he see twice a year.
Next month will be his 10th year on the road and he will travel until he can travel no more.  The medical problems he encountered last year are resolved and he is in a healthy condition. His next country he wants to travel is India, - later this year.  He was on his way there when Jean-Louis called him to meet in Africa to ride the continent. He chose not to ride trough troublesome countries in Africa like Nigeria and Angola etc.

                           Hubert, Jean-Louis and a fellow Uralist posing in front of Jean-Louis rig.

I can rattle on for a day-and-some on everything he said and shared. 
All in all, this is a fascinating man and one can learn so much from him, - as I did. 
But something’s you have to ask him yourself, so please, - don’t miss the opportunity to meet this man.   is Hubert web page where you can follow his travels.

He also gives an open invitation to all to e-mail him and ask questions and/or give him good wishes - when he is on the road this keeps him going.

We had a great morning with Hubert and Jean-Louis and our dealer gave him a shirt that said it all; with the sidecar photo on the front and the Ural letters spelling;

U R A Legend!
Hubert and Jean-Louis, I salute you! Safe travels and see you on the road.

Leica M9 + 50mm Summilx

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