JURGEN PRIESNER: @ICHBINICH_ADVENTURES
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orca’s – 12/3/18
For the ninety sixth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orca’s, we are very pleased to share the story of Jürgen Priesner, or as you may know him, @IchBinIch_Adventures.
Jürgen has been on the road since May of this year. His goal was to ride his Honda Motorycle from Vienna to Kathmandu. I started following his journey through Instagram and am very happy that I did. You can view his gallery and give him a follow at @IchBinIch_Adventures. You can also follow his Facebook and YouTube pages if you prefer.
His website as all the features nicely presented in one place and some additional information about his trip. Like his spnosors, favorite song of the moment, and precise whereabouts. You can view it here ichbinichadventures.com.
The only thing I love more than a badass adventure ride, is a solo badass adventure ride. Jürgen’s journey is certainly my kind of trip. The remote destinations highlighted with cultural explorations of the towns and villages he passes through, are the right mix of adventure riding and tourist travel.
If you are curious about the meaning behind Ich Bin Ich, check out the interview below and Jürgen will fill you in.
He is a great reminder of the rewards of challenging yourself.
Check out or interview and his photography from his travels below.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
Before going on this adventure I studied architecture and worked as a research and teaching assistant at the university. I love it.
Tell me about your bike. What do you call it?
My beloved travel companion is a 1999 Honda Transalp PD 10 (the 50 years edition). It has the classic color design of the first Transalp Model including golden rims. A very common problem of Transalps is the dipping fork when you press the front break (especially when the bike is heavily loaded), which makes it feel like riding a Pony at that moment. When I felt it for the first time I started calling her Pony, but since it is not such a pleasant name, I dubbed her “Bonnie” after a while. After managing to pass a path in the Georgian mountains together with heavy rain and extremely muddy roads, she got her second nickname “dirty hamster” because she collected all the mud between the front tire and the fender. I know it sounds silly but you have a lot of time while riding 😉 Whenever someone asks me now if I have a nickname for my beloved travel companion, I can answer proudly and with a big smile “Yes, her name is Bonnie, the dirty hamster!”
When and how did you get it?
Bonnie is my first motorbike. I bought her in April 2014 with less than 30.000 km after searching online for almost two years. It was definitely well worth the wait; once I saw her and took the first test ride, I knew I had to buy her. Since then, I have been doing almost all of my adventures by motorbike.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
Around the time I bought Bonnie, I was already thinking about going on a big adventure someday, but I wasn’t sure when or if it would happen at all. At home, I already ride a 125ccm Vespa (1961) but just for getting around the city. I never even spent a single moment thinking about traveling with it outside of Austria, for such trips, the bike should offer at least a bit more comfort.
So, I started looking for a bike which offers an equal mix of off- and on-road characteristics, and due to the fact that I was still a student at the time, it had to be affordable as well. Furthermore, a great design is much more important to me than power or acceleration. The only other bike I considered was a Honda Africa Twin RD07 because of its great adventure look and the bigger ground clearance. The reason I finally settled on a Honda Transalp, was its lower weight and more affordable price. I don’t regret it.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
Yes of course. The upgrading process started long before I knew we would go on an adventure together. Crash bars and a racking system were already mounted but I installed additional front lights, a 3mm aluminum bash plate, progressive front springs, a higher windscreen, 35mm handlebar raisers, four USB-Ports and many other parts, step by step over the last years. One of the latest gadgets I’ve installed is a digital tyre pressure sensor which has already proven itself really useful on this journey.
What is your favorite part about it living off of your bike?
Traveling solo by motorcycle offers the ultimate freedom for me. I can go wherever I want at any time. But to be honest, it took time to realize this great possibility.
What is your least favorite part about it?
I don’t really see any considerable issue. Maybe the volume of luggage you can carry on the bike is quite small, but that doesn’t mean that I wish to carry more stuff 😉 It’s just a matter of how intelligent you organize stuff in small panniers, but I am quite resistant to improve my organizing-skills.
What is the best place you have taken it?
Bonnie and I have already been to many places together but the best place was somewhere in the Kirghiz mountains. I don’t want to reveal the exact position because it should stay a hidden place. After riding for several hours through very challenging terrain with many river-crossings and muddy paths, we reached a plateau at an altitude of above 3600m. I stopped the engine, turned around and an extraordinary view of the Kirghiz landscape opened in front of me. Hawks soaring in the air majestically and marmots flitting between big rocks just a few meters away. Only Bonnie and I in the middle of pristine nature. It was an incredible experience.
Is there just one?
In each country I have been to so far, there is at least one special place I remember. It must not be a place which is insanely beautiful. Sometimes it’s a random place but for some reason it makes me feel very good. For example, one of those places was in the Kazakh steppe. I had been riding for three days through the same scenery without seeing anybody and was totally exhausted from the bad road conditions, so I pitched my tent in the middle of nowhere. Totally winded and sweating from riding, I watched the sunset while drinking a cup of coffee and listening to my favorite music. The fact that I had struggled through this tough terrain for three days already made me feel very proud of myself and I felt very comfortable in this place. Maybe I am a kind of masochist who needs the pain of riding for days through such terrain before I can enjoy a place, haha.
Favorite road you’ve driven?
One of my favorite roads is definitely the Pamir Highway with the Wakhan Valley. Riding your bike through a region which looks similar to Mars offers a special atmosphere, which I had never experienced before. In combination with less oxygen, temperatures around 0 degrees, deep gravel and sand sections as well as a stunning view of the Pamir Mountains and the Hindu Kush offered the ultimate adventure feeling to me.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living off of a bike, what would you tell them?
Don‘t care about what family and friends think about this “unconventional” way of traveling. Take all your courage and step out of your comfort zone. It’s an absolutely incredible experience, you will see. It’s YOUR life and you should live YOUR dreams. This was the most important thing for me to realize before I could start this adventure. I even made it in to my motto “Ich Bin Ich” (In English means “I Am Me”). Once you are on the road you will have the time of your life.
It takes a special kind of person to recognize that the journey, not the destination, is the point of life. Travelers know this. Was there a point in your life where you became conscious that you were one of those people?
My focus changed dramatically during this trip. In the last years I already thought that travelling in itself is the right point of life for me. I enjoyed it the most but I couldn’t live it 100%. There was always some kind of ambitious organizer in my head who prevented this kind of travel spirit. On this journey it turned out quickly that I needed this first solo travel experience where I can focus on myself and find the way of traveling that is right for me.
In the first couple of weeks, I spent each evening planning the next riding day because I was super excited and tried to get the most out of the adventure. I didn’t feel at ease, I always felt the pressure to stick to the plan and even when something spontaneous happened like an invitation to someone’s home, I declined. Luckily, I eventually remembered the fact that this is my own adventure and that I can change my travel flow whenever I want. I stopped planning routes and focused on the moment. Since then, I enjoy being on the road like never before and gain many more valuable experiences, which I couldn’t have imagined before.
You have found a strong place in the community of adventure riders. What values do you think your home or family instilled in you, that you take on the road?
I guess one of the most important values is the fact that my parents have consistently taught me since my childhood that no dream is too big. If you have a dream and you want it to become real, work as hard as possible and you will reach it. I definitely took this attitude with me on the road, otherwise I wouldn’t even have started this adventure. I am really thankful for that.
I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. Do you see yourself as someone who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
I already felt the need to change something in life a few years ago but I did not know what it was or in which way. The feeling that you don’t know what you really want is pretty depressing for me. In recent years, however, I realized more and more what really matters to me and how I feel comfortable, but the implementation in real life was still difficult. When a decisive change took place in my personal life last year, it was clear that now is the time to try this new path in life. Whether unconventional or not, for me it is the right one.
Where do you want to go next?
During the last few months, I have become aware of my wishes and goals in my professional life. Views and values have changed, which I would like to try to implement in my career. Let’s see if they are still the same at the end of the journey. We’ll see.
Geographically it looks quite different. When I look at the map, I get excited. There is so much to discover in this world and I want to see all of it (the Travel Virus got me completely ;). But slowly a new route emerged in my head, which I would like to tackle next. I do not want to betray too much. Just a small hint, it will be a new Ich Bin Ich Adventure on a completely new continent. You can be curious 😉