Back on the road,..with a new drive shaft! If there was ever a destination in my tour,..it was Germany. Years ago as I was crossing into Mexico, I wasn’t sure where exactly the tour would lead,..I just new I had to have a go…South was a reasonable option in January. However, as I rolled off the ship and my tread struck Russian soil, I knew I was trying for Europe…wanting to finish in Germany. I never knew if I was going to make it, if I was going to beat the snows in Siberia. There had been a number of doubtful moments ..on long cold days in Russia…with one eye turned to the sky, I’d get that cold feeling in my stomach…um errrrrrr.,,maybe this wasn’t the best idea!
So as I found myself hauling ass on the autobahn over the open border into Germany, there was an enormous rush of emotion. It was cold, dark and rainy… but the whole world around me was glowing with my enthusiasm for the moment…I’d made it and was love’n life!
Sure, Germany was the last foreign country I’d hit on this tour, but is a tour really ever over? Of course not… everything is mere reconnaissance for ever greater endeavors ahead. There is so much more of world to see, in two years I’d barely tapped the beauty of it all.
I gave myself a few weeks in Germany to unwind from the tour,..do some site seeing, visit friends, and work out logistics to get myself and the old girl home. My father had suggested I visit the BMW factory and see the birthplace of my bike. Having once before seen the BMW headquarters in Munich, I figured I knew right were it was,..so I shot for Munich.
So I arrived at the BMW factory in Munich to learn that the motorcycle factory had been destroyed by allied bombing……in world war II. The headquarters and automobile manufacturing is still done in Munich, while the motorcycles are actually assembled at the Berlin Plant. However, the saving grace was the BMW museum…which included all of BMW’s most interesting motorcycles and cars.
I tried, but was not able to squeeze onto a tour of the car plant. Ironically, I watched the tour guides include my bike on the tour they were giving as they crossed between the plant and the museum.
I left Munich late, and was stuck fast in traffic on the autobahn. Not one to waste time in traffic, I pulled off the highway and wasted time at Mcdonalds instead. (disclaimer…it was the only warm place to stop off at) I’d rather eat a Thai fried grasshoper then a Mcdonalds burger. So I settled for a coffee and fingered through my riding jacket for some crackers.
Eventually I was back on the road,….rolling towards Stuttgart at night. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable with the speed of traffic on the autobahn, out of concern for a seriously worn front tire…not something you want to blow out high speeds. Even in the slow lane I was getting honked at. There were definitely some aggressive drivers out that night.
By chance I made friends with another biker in Stuttgart and she kindly offered up a couch for the night.
The following day I wandered my way over to the Touratech factory. This blew me away…..imagine a sportsman warehouse for Adventure Bikers! Starting with one mail order product, these guys are now the greatest innovators for Adventure motorcycle accessories in the world. I’d say there were at least 30 adventure bikes on display, each fully modified for either endurance racing or hardcore touring. It was high end equipment at a very high end price. I bought the only thing I could afford at the time…a mug J….it was on saleJ!
Following Stuttgart I rolled north…ended up taking a room in this castle just above the town of Bacharach.
Using the castle as a base for a few days, I focused on acquiring logistics information to get home. While shipping from Perth to Korea was cheaper than anticipated, shipping from Germany to the US was looking pricier than I’d expected. I had figured that shipping out of Germany would be cake as it’s the a major shipping hub of the world,..with every modern convenience at hand. However….there’s rules here….lots of them! And somebody’s got to pay for these rules…that fee is usually passed down to guys like me! And crates are bitch to get a hold of. Recycling is so efficient…there’s not much to score behind a bike shop. So crates have to be built…fumigated..and then transported to the site….MASSIVE price here,..even if you build it yourself.
I tried a few off the wall ideas…like using connections to get a military transport out of Rammstien Airforce base…or the tour operator out of Heidelberg who was shipping containers to Florida. None of them really panned out in the way I wanted. But I still had a few more tricks up my sleeve…numbers to call, emails to send, contacts of contacts to be contacted. Finding a good deal can take weeks.
Logistics is boring…on a more interesting note- I found out from a friend that
there was going to be a party in Cologne…and I was definitely had to make it!
Back in my high school days, while studying abroad in Germany, I’d forged some great friendships. Although tenuously maintained over the last 12 years by random emails, we were still in contact. My buddies were now working or studying throughout Europe,..but by chance,..they were all coming back together for a party in Cologne in two days time. Come hell or high water I was definitely going to be there.
As I made my way up to Cologne,..I got a call from a man I’d met in back in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Back in Brazil, when I was organizing shipping to Perth from Sao Paulo I’d met Thomas in the B&M logistics office. He was a Bavarian based logistics agent shipping full scale aircraft mockups for aeronautical exhibitions around the world. Over lunch in a Sao Paulo café, we got to know each other and I scored his business card. Now that I was in Germany, I didn’t think anything would come of it, since our meeting had been years ago and on the other side of the world. However, I got the call and invitation to meet that night for dinner in Düsseldorf. As it was only another hour past Cologne, I figured I could swing both the link up and the party that night. Two hours later I was linking up with Thomas…the world is a small place! A few beers later were talking business and he totally hooked me up! At first I wasn’t sure about it all….crunching logistics numbers through in your head while drinking beer is something only Germans are good at, but when he mentioned we’d be riding his KTMs while organizing shipping, I had to take it. As I would find out, it was more than a deal, as a fellow biker,…Thomas was basically pulling all the strings for me and making it an affordable and easy shipment. With that set,..and I had party to go to. I reversed direction and rolled through the night back to Cologne.
At about 11:00pm I found the address I’d been given,..and noticed a rainbow painted on the door. “you’ve got to be shitting me” I was thinking! But I called my friend and he got his laugh out of it, and explained the party was in a basement just next to the club. I pulled the bike onto the side walk, just as I was met by a whole gang of gals and guys I hadn’t seen in years. It was an epic reunion, and made for one historic night.