A photo reportage of the most extreme motorcycle event in Europe. An adventure of men, motorcycles, cold and passion.
I'm Alessandro D'Angelo, photographer. I work as a freelance for many magazines and web sites. Life, passions, sadness, joy, love or hatred, victories and defeats, all "the human comedy" I try to capture, to absorb in me and tell with portrait photography. Maybe it's a way for me to live more lifes than this world there allows. Understand the other for find myself, to discover that there aren't right streets to live but many hidden paths to go. alessandrodangelo.it
The Elephant Rally, or Elefantentreffen, is a winter motorcycle rally, which takes place on the first weekend in February or on the last weekend in January annually in a valley between the towns of Thurmansbang and Solla in the Bavarian Forest in Germany. It is organized by the Federal Association of Motorcycle Riders in Germany.
He has take place in the Bavarian forest, near the Czech border, where snow is guaranteed. Each year between 5,000 and 10,000 riders from all over Europe participate, some bringing modified motorcycles and special designs. The most important thing is the complete prohibition of all vehicles except motorcycles for several kilometers around the periphery of the meeting area.
Johan, age 41, motor mechanic, Holland.
Article from BIKE magazine UK with my photographs:
Held since 1956 at various frozen venues, it attracts a hardcore of regulars and plenty of one-off fringe visitors, it is routinely bitterly cold but far from inhospitable. Despite the appearancesof the majority of bikers it is not compulsory to look like a Woolly Mammoth at the Elefantentreffen. But deep in the Bavarian forests winter temperatures can sink as low as minus 15 Celsius with snow cover for six months. Only the last week of January or the first week of February are considered suitably cold enought to hold this event for masochists and sub-zero filth monkeys.
The organisers (Bundesverbrand der Motorradfaherer aka German Federal Association of Motorcycle Riders) reckon to attract 5000 souls to this holiday on ice. Exept the 2014 event was more of a mudfest owing to this year's unseasonably warm winter. The name Elefant was chosen because the majority of machines employed for early rallies were Zündapp KS601 combos, known affectionately as Green Elefants when the event was held at Solitude near Stuttgart.
This experience in suffering is leavened (slightly) by mass fireworks displays and heavy drinking, but despite the anarcho-Goth meets Grizzly Adams costumes, there are no bands - no music. Instead attendees are asked to enjoy the silence of the mountains. That is when the fireworks have been exhausted and various specially-built snowpeds have either run out of petrol or exploded.
Danielko Jaroslav, age 55, truck driver, Czech Republic.
My experience about:
While I'm looking for a spare part for my father's old motorcycle, the mechanic tells me: if you want to photograph a motorcyclist you must go at Elefantentreffen.
01/ feb /14 "The bad thing of summer is that the motorcyclist mingles with who have the bike." This phrase written on a leather jacket greets me in the Forest of Loh (Bavaria), in an abandoned quarry, frozen. Thousands of motorcyclists are reaching this place, with the bikes loaded with tents, axes, beer and meat. It's 58 years that this is repeated, that snow, rain, mud and frost greet men with their partners: the bikes. For three days only with straw and firewood, without no other entertainment if not the noise of the engines, motorcyclists from all over Europe celebrate their passion for two wheels.
Martin, age 31, maintainer of roofs, Czech Republic.
The work has been greeted with success by the best European magazines (Moto Heroes FR, Bike UK, etc.), and from there I had an idea to complete the project with new images, for a exhibition or a book in future, that celebrates the sixtieth edition in 2016.
Tomas During, age 66, Germany.
Here you can see the story in black and white of the three days I spent with the bikers, in the cold in the snow and mud, wrapped in the smoke of engines and roast pigs, between gasoline and beer: alessandrodangelo.it
Dotze, age 26, job unknown, Germany.
Helmut Stockinger, age 46, truck driver, Austria.
Gianni, age unknown, farmer - Valentino, age unknown, construction worker, Italy.
Manuel, age 26, carpenter, Germany.
Allocation of funds
The funds raised will be used to produce a reportage of expansion: complete the work for the purpose of publication, to produce a book for the sixtieth edition of 2016.
The idea is to be able to have multiple images, that best describe what has taken place since 1956 in the Bavarian Forest, able to translate the best passion that warms the hearts of ice covered bikers. The characteristic of the Elefantentreffen is that he is held in the coldest period of the year with big snowfalls in a remote area, but the 2014 edition that I photographed was not characterized by this (an abnormally hot day, much of the melted snow) and, although full of beautiful images and excellent feedback editorial is not enough to fully portray what this event is celebrating from years. Integrating my reportage I would have enough material to publish a photo book or an exhibition, that it's not excluded, could also take place in the mythical Yeti Treffen during the 2016 edition.
During the past experience of the January 2014 I photographed alone, reaching the abandoned quarry (where the rally takes place) every day walk from the nearest village (Thurmansbang) where I was based at an inn to recharge the equipment and manage files every evening / night. With all the equipment backpack I have traveled 7 - 8 km round trip, to reach for the three-day event also passing through the paths of the forest Bavarian cream. Given this difficulty and also given the complications in the management of the alone camera flash, I hypothesized the help of an assistant to assure me best work and safety.
Travel 400 €
Food and Accomodation 300 €
Photo Assistant 300 €
Production and Post production 300 €
Total 1300 €
I hope to achieve this and if your contribution, riding my enthusiasm exceed the planned budget, I can afford with the money more, to stay one more day in German forest to take photographs that describe the beautiful and wild place reached by motorcyclists. I could also get better the post production and raise the quality and attention necessary to a professional project, as well as pay more adequately my assistant.
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