German pensioner rides around the world

4th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

4 June 2007, Nairobi (dpa) - Retirement means different things to different people: buying a house in Tuscany, golfing every other day or simply lounging by a pool with a cold gin and tonic by one's side. But for Dankmar Hugo Scheuchl, it meant he could embark on an adventure of a lifetime. With little more than his trusty steed - a BMW R1000 motorcycle - and 100 kilos of clothes and supplies, he set off on a tour of the globe that would take him to the war-torn mountain ranges of Afghanistan, the crowded

4 June 2007

Nairobi (dpa) - Retirement means different things to different people: buying a house in Tuscany, golfing every other day or simply lounging by a pool with a cold gin and tonic by one's side.

But for Dankmar Hugo Scheuchl, it meant he could embark on an adventure of a lifetime.

With little more than his trusty steed - a BMW R1000 motorcycle - and 100 kilos of clothes and supplies, he set off on a tour of the globe that would take him to the war-torn mountain ranges of Afghanistan, the crowded streets of Calcutta, the Australian outback and wide African savannahs.

The resident of Erding, Germany was 66-years-old when he first departed.

"My family was quite amazed when I told them I was doing this. They surely thought I was crazy at the beginning," said Scheuchl, now 68, sitting at a guest house in the Kenyan capital Nairobi but itching to get on the road again.

He can't remember exactly how many countries he has visited since he drove away from his home but a quick count put it at 28, with still more to come on his way back to Europe.

It's been a dream of his to make such a journey but when he attempted to do so 43 years ago, the voyage was cut short unexpectedly.

Then, at 25, Scheuchl and a friend made it by motorbike to Nepal, but sold their vehicles and headed back to Germany by train because of a lack of funds and time.

After a lifetime of working as a software developer, with enough money and all the time he needs, Scheuchl is completing his loop around the world.

"I didn't really care about how many countries I passed through. I intended to get this route done 40 years later."

And that meant following the same path he took so many decades ago, including Afghanistan.

"It's a destroyed society," said grey-haired and bearded Scheuchl, who was stopped at numerous military checkpoints and noticed a general downturn to the country since he last visited.

"Many people have never seen the inside of a school. Family and clan structures are destroyed and people are without orientation."

He said he doesn't regret driving through Kandahar, Kabul and the rest of the volatile country that is home to a myriad of foreign troops, but he wouldn't advise any other visitors to meander around it.

This was the lowest part of his trip. But for the most part, Scheuchl's travels through Eastern Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and Africa have been enjoyable.

"I've been able to see how much this world has changed - economies have developed but there have been tremendous effects on the environment as well," he said.

In Cape Town, South Africa, his adventurous side got the best of him.

Unsure of the security situation in the country, which has one of the highest crime rates in the world, Scheuchl took a stroll in the evening after dark and was attacked by two men.

"They tried to rob me but I was able to defeat them," he said, describing a raucous street battle that ended with the thieves - younger than Scheuchl - scurrying away with none of his possessions.

"A punch in the face - that's all they got."

After 22 months on the road, Scheuchl hit a snag. As he was leaving Nairobi and headed for Ethiopia, his motorcycle broke down and more than a week later, he was yet to repair it.

But he still wore a smile on his face, waiting patiently to complete the journey he said he would after so many years and looking forward to riding through North Africa, the Middle East and back home.

And his advice to others his age contemplating a seemingly outlandish experience: "Just do it."

"The very moment you get the idea into your head that you are too old, you will become too old," he said, moments after helping a mechanic tighten a bolt onto the engine of his motorcycle.

"I will never be ready to settle down."

DPA

Subject: German news

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