Edelweiss Bike Travel, the global motorcycle tour company based in Mieming, Austria, has announced the passing of its founder, Werner Wachter. He was 77.
The following announcement was posted today on the Edelweiss Bike Travel website, and a selection of photos is shown below:
It takes a lot of courage to live a busy life and still turn everything upside down to follow an idea. Werner Wachter had this courage when he founded a motorcycle travel company together with his wife Coral in 1980. In doing so, they were treading a path that no one had taken before them. The days when motorcyclists were considered starvelings or outlaws or both were not long gone, but Werner saw how things were changing and how they would evolve. Motorcycles would become popular recreational vehicles, and the riders would become well-heeled and welcome guests. He was right. As he was so often.
But a company founder needs not only a vision to follow but also a lot of down-to-earth knowledge, great assertiveness, and a lot of perseverance and persuasiveness. All this and more characterized Werner and so he succeeded in establishing not only a new company but a completely new industry. Guided motorcycle tours with comprehensive service from luggage transport to luxury picnics were new to the market but quickly found many takers. And also many imitators.
Werner established a large business network over the years and in many cases business partners became good friends. He built up a reliable staff and trained numerous tour guides, always looking ahead and towards his customers. Providing the guest on tour with a special and unforgettable experience was the guiding star by which he aligned his company. He always had an open ear for criticism and suggestions, even if he mostly preferred to listen to his gut feeling instead. Some people interpreted this character trait as stubbornness, but that is of course completely absurd. He always knew how to lighten up a deadlocked discussion by saying something profound or by telling one of his countless stories, most of which he had experienced himself. A gifted storyteller, yes, that’s what he was.
From time to time, his thirst for adventure and discovery got the better of him, and the well-being of the tour participants had to take a back seat. When it hit him, laws became recommendations and rules became hints, which he elegantly circumvented. He suspected something particularly interesting behind that military roadblock in China, and restaurant kitchens were always an open invitation anyway. After all, you want to know where the food comes from, don’t you? He liked to mingle with the locals, cheat his way into a wedding photo or dress up as a snake charmer in Morocco to confuse both locals and tourists. Not to mention the tour participants….
With his 60th birthday in the rearview mirror, Werner very slowly began to prepare for retirement. He brought his friend and volleyball partner Rainer Buck on board, made him managing director after a short trial period, and planned one last big trip – the world tour. From November 2010 to July 2011, he rode around the globe with a group of intrepid companions and then returned back to Mieming, but not to his office chair. Instead, he enjoyed his free time and prepared the handover of the company to his son Tobias. In 2018, his life’s work was complete and we all would have wished him many more years to reminisce and see both his company and his family continue to grow. It was not meant to be. Farewell, Werner! You will be missed!