Sunday, July 21, 2013

BMW Motorrad Days 2013 - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Deutschland

From the BMW Web Site

Judith and I received a super wedding gift. We were fortunate enough to spend the weekend in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GAP) at BMW Motorrad Days.  This was all thanks to some secret organizing by our friends Christian and Wieland, and donations from other friends (a Big Thank You from Judith and Me!).

Motorrad Days was held July 5, 6 and 7.  Here's a link to a video that will give you an idea of the event. BMW Motorrad Days 2013.  The video gives a nice overview of the event, but it doesn't (and probably cannot) come close to the real thing.

I took about 400 pictures on this trip, but edited them down to about 130.  You can see them here: Pictures - BMW Motorrad Days Tour.  Hope you enjoy them.

Christian, Yella (Christian's daughter), Steffi and Wieland also joined us.  A hotel (the Dorint Sportshotel) was pre-arranged by Christian.  The Dorint is a very nice 4 Star hotel not far from the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Ski Area.

The venue at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Ski Area is expansive.  Over the weekend there about 30,000 visitors, and it seemed nearly as many motorcycles.  The facility really does a super job in staging the event.

BMW Motorrad must have a monstrous budget for the event. The number of demo bikes for both Street and Enduro riding was huge. Every model was available - from the new C 650 Scooter up to the K 1600 GT and GTL.  The street demo rides were 90 minutes and went over some great Straße.  On Fri. they included the B11 over Kochelsee Pass, a very nice twisty ride.  The road is closed to motorcycles on the weekend, but w
e road in over the pass on Friday morning.

Here is a section of the Kochelsee Pass

An Enduro track was carved out on the event's grounds on which you could ride any of the BMW GS models for three laps per session for free, for as many sessions as you wanted or were able to do (OK, there was a 5€ charge for a Riders Pass that covered all demo rides).

The crowd on Friday was very large, but on Sat. it was gigantic.  We watched the mob riding in for awhile and were sort of slack-jawed at the number and diversity of bikes.  The Polizei did a great job keeping things moving and organized (of course it is Germany, it is expected).

Many, many, many interesting BMWs, including R90s and R80GSs, plus a good number of real "Oldtimers" both ridden in and on display. There was a large pavilion for the various BMW Clubs throughout Europe with museum quality examples of BMW Motorrad, including, but not limited to, an R32, R7 Prototype and display of the evolution of the GS.

Chris Pfeiffer as usual put on a mind blowing exhibition Chris Pfeiffer BMW Motorrad Days 2013.  The
Original Motodrom (Wall of Death) was also as entertaining as can be.

Great Bier and Brots were in good supply as well, and at reasonable cost.

We were witness to one unfortunate event however. It was scene from the 60's Beach Party movies ( you know, Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello and Eric von Zipper).  There was a long row of bikes (mostly BMWs) parked side by side and pretty close together. They were on a very slight downhill slope, some resting on side stands and some on center stands. Some dude comes along and parks his bike at the high end of the row of bikes - puts his side stand down - gets off the the bike and starts to take off his gear. The bike falls to the right, hits the next bike, it falls and like dominos about a dozen bikes go down. Judith and I saw the entire thing unfold in front of us in slow motion.  And yes, there was some relatively serious damage to a few bikes.  A bunch of people all pitched in (including me) to untangle the mess and get everything back on two wheels.  Except for the guy who started the avalanche, it didn't look like any of the bike owners were around, so there will be some big (WTF) surprises, but no one was hurt.

To my amazement, all of this, except for Bier, Brots and 5€ cost for a demo Riders Pass, is at no cost.

This a good one for the Bucket List.

Great riding, good friends, fantastic weather, super nice hotel and lots and lots of motorcycles.  We had a really great weekend

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Please turn right at the next intersection..."

... says the voice in my right ear and then the drill starts again.  Look in the right rear view mirror... look over the right shoulder, and if it's clear turn on the right turn signal...  move slowly to the right hand section of the lane... making sure to brake with both front and rear brakes.  Thus goes the road test for my German driver's license (Führerschine) on a gray Wednesday morning last week.

Little Orange Cone Demo Team
Before being allowed out on the road by the Führerschine Meister from TÜV I had to run the little orange cone gauntlet.  Circumnavigate a circle painted on the ground three times and make sure you go fast enough to initiate some amount of lean on the bike (don't go more than three revolutions - you will get dizzy and fall down), then wiggle through a bunch of little orange cones that are real close together at idle speed, next run a slalom through some more little orange cones that are further apart, but make sure you're going at least 40 K per hour, and then finally three different emergency braking & obstacle avoidance tests.  If you hit a little orange cone on any of the tests you are toast.

So I watched how the youngsters did it and I managed to pass the first part.

Then, once it was determined I could go off to the strasse for Part Two -- the road test -- more fun.  I wound through a few villages, over country roads, through larger towns and then the Pièce de résistance -- the Autobohn --  all-the-while following the instructions from the voice I was hearing in my right ear.

I guess I didn't do anything stupid because at the end of the road test I got a thumbs up from the Führerschine Meister, along with a piece of paper that would prove to be my passport to legal driving in Germany -- that is once I made it over to the Führerschinestelle to pick up my drivers license.

Blacks out to protect the innocent
So, once again, I am a legal menace to the public roads both in a car and on a motorcycle, but this time in a foreign country.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Big Dig on Hochstrasse

Yes in deed, in normal conditions street parking is never easy to find on Hochstrasse.  Refer to my May 24th post "Major Milestone Achieved!! Second Sonderparkberechtigung Obtained"

It's been much worse lately since they have been repairing the street that the city tore up last year to put in new sewer pipes.  The street is cobblestone and the asphalt patches are finally being replaced with new cobblestones.  This is nice, as the asphalt does not quite have the je ne sais quoi as cobblestone.

This re-cobblestoning process is apparently a lost art that the city workers are trying to figure out.  First they put up "No Parking" signs on the street (a street that mind you already has limited parking), along with some red and white barrier things, steel plates and orange blinking lights to form an alter - so to speak - and then go away for a week or so.

After they come back, the offending asphalt is removed in a rather violent and noisy manner.  They leave again - I presume to get further instructions from some very all knowing person.

After some effort that takes many, many days, the "alter" is prepared for the new cobblestones.  This involves a lot more noise.  A large truck brings the stones and dumps them into a big misshapen pile.  Many layers of dirt are deposited on the alter and tamped down with gas engine powered tamper (I am sure this is not the correct name).

The next phase of the event involves the HMFDIC (you must know what this means, if not do not ask), who keeps picking up one cobblestone at a time and stares at it and turns it to inspect all sides and stares for awhile longer.  Often he will toss the stone aside and then start the process all over.

Once he and a cobblestone have a melding of the mind (this takes place all the while on bended knees in a praying position) he places the stone just so in the alter and then gently taps on the stone with a ceremonial hammer like thing, using some secret rhythm.  During this ritual another city worker is standing by admiring the Stone Whisperer's work. I guess he is an apprentice.  Very often there will be two teams working side by side, engaged in some type of slow race.

I have attached a picture of the ritual taken from a secret hiding place.  Be careful not to get caught with this documentation of the cobblestone ritual.  If you are found with it in your possession there will be a pox on your street for a minimum of three years.  The city will come and replace the sewer pipes, leaving the street surface a mess for at least one year.  Then there will be a new crew who will tear up the patched street and go away for several months before returning to complete the work.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Logic and the Führerscheinstelle im Ordnungsamt*

Logic teaches rules for presentation, not thinking. 

-Mason Cooley

Logic is neither an art nor a science but a dodge.

Logic! Good gracious! What rubbish!
-E. M. Forester

Such is logic when it comes to obtaining a German Drivers License - especially with a Motorcycle Endorsement.

I may have mentioned earlier that there is a nice little "logical" agreement between many of the States in America and Germany, where your American drivers license is exchanged for a German drivers license with no need to take a written or driving test - just pay the fee. So happens that my PA drivers License is honored in the exchange agreement.  This makes one of the necessities when moving to Germany very easy.  

Oh yeah - hold on!  Not so if you also need a Motorcycle Endorsement.  

For some reason the Führerscheinamt (Department of Motor Vehicles) has it in their "logic" that it's OK to just give an American a German drivers license (provided you pay the fee) for an automobile with no written or driving tests required.  Mind you the driving laws and road signs are not insignificantly different here, but never mind that.

But, if you also want the Motorcycle Endorsement on your American drivers license to be transferred to your German drivers license - "Forgedaboudit" (this is not German, it's New Jersey-ese).  

You must take the theory (written) and practical (riding) test.  OK - so what's the big deal, other than an inconvenience?  Well, let me tell you...

TÜV administers the tests for all of Germany.  In order to be eligible to take the tests a Fahrschule (driving school) must recommend that you are ready to take the test.  This means that you need to sign up with a Fahrschule.  Fortunately, Judith knows some very nice people at Peppel's Fahrschule.

They organized everything and I was able to study the German regulations on line, which a good thing because there is no little Driving Test Study Book like in America.

Example of the On Line study guide - same thing as the actual test

But, the regulations are pretty different and there is a lot of them and they are really bizarre.  For example, can you figure this question out?

You want to turn out of a road with a sunken kerbstone into another road.  A car is coming from the left.  What applies here?
  1. Whoever turns into a road over a sunken kerbstone must wait
  2. The rule “right before left”
  3. The sunken kerbstone is of no relevance for the obligation to wait
What the hell is a sunken curbstone?  No one knows...

After taking about 175 (no kidding) practice tests on line I felt I was ready to go to TUV and take the test.  The big day was this past Monday.  The test is given by a computer program.  So promptly at 10:45 on a gray and rainy Monday morning myself and about ten others gathered at TÜV for the test.  Most everyone was taking the normal driving test - not the motorcycle test.  I was of course the only American.  I did get to take the test in English at least.

Twenty minutes later I was finished and even though I know the answer to the "Sunken Kurbstones" question they didn't ask. BTW, the correct answer is number 1.

I did however Ace the test!!!

Now... the riding test is next.  Weave through little orange cones, go in circles, panic brake, blah, blah blah.  But the catch is there is also an on road test after the little orange cone test.

The test is in about two weeks - wish me luck!

*License Office in the Clerk's Office

Friday, May 24, 2013

Major Milestone Achieved!! Second Sonderparkberechtigung Obtained

May 22, 2013, 9:00 AM Central Europe Time
Nürnberg, Germany

A second neighborhood parking permit has been obtained!!!

What you say?  Why is this such a big News Flash?

Normally there is only one Neighborhood Parking Permit (Sonderparkberechtigung) issued per household.  Without the permit you need to look for somewhere to park that is not a permit area.  These are sometimes pretty difficult to find.  Park in a permit area and you'll get a Knöllchen - Parking Ticket - and then be allowed to contribute to the economy of Nürnberg.

Judith's Sonderparkberechtigung needed to be renewed, so we made a trip the the Stadtamt this morning to do so.  Just for the hell of of it we asked for two permits.  The nice lady said sure, why not.  I could hardly contain myself I was so happy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Meter of Bratwurst and a Night in a Castle

May 1st was a Holiday (Labor Day in Germany).  We decided to take a long weekend and go for a three day Motorbike Tour, leaving on Thursday.

Forecasts for heavy rain to the East literally put the damper on our planned three day Motorbike Tour to Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic.  Too bad too since Ceske Budejovice is the home of the original Budweiser Beer, which is not at all like "Bud" in America.

The rained out route to Ceske Budejovice

We decided to head towards sunny surrounds instead and see where we would end up.  Our friends Wieland and Christian joined Judith and I and we headed North West from Nürnberg towards Würzburg.  I forgot my camera, so pictures are stolen from the Web.

Our alternative route away from the rain

  • Day one is the lighter green route
  • Day two is the purple route.
  • The last day is dark green.
  • A total of about 725 kilometers.

Sulzfeld am Main (Picture stolen from the Web)
Christian was very familiar with this area, having spent a lot of time in Würzburg when younger.  Along the way we stopped in Sulzfeld am Main for lunch.  This is a nice large village on the Main River (pronounced Mine)

Bratwurst is traditionally sold by the meter in this region, so we naturally had to have Bratwurst for lunch - but only a half meter.

Traditional meter of Bratwurst (Picture stolen from the Web)
Like the name already says the sausage is one meter (40inches) long. In 1953 Lawrence Stark a butcher in Sulzfeld, Bavaria invented this meter long sausage on the suggestion of a guest who proclaimed : "I can Wurscht The meter setting ess" meaning he could eat a whole meter of sausage in one sitting. Lawrence rose to the occasion and came out with a meter long sausage sizzling in a pan, that started the tradition and is still a fun thing to do.

There are contests to see how much meter bratwurst you can eat. The current record set in 1982 is 5.15 meters or 16.9 feet! 

Michels Keller (Picture stolen from the Web)
Herr Stark's restaurant was not open when we arrived (it was a little late for lunch), but we founds a very suitable choice at Michels Keller right up the street. 

Bratwurst at Michels Keller (Picture stolen from the Web)
The Bratwurst was served in a sizzling iron plate shaped like a steer (weird, since this is pork sausage), with a delicious wine sauce, sides of sauerkraut and potato salad.

After lunch we continued on West for awhile and the turned to the North.  Very wonderful roads, with little traffic and good weather.  Since I forgot my camera there are no pictures.

Around 5:30 or 6:00 we decided to start looking for a place to stay and came across a nice small hotel, but sorry to say I have forgotten the name.  Reasonably priced and good food, but nothing else remarkable to mention.

Breakfast coffee was good, as were the other items.  After filling up we packed up and headed further North, and then South, and then North.  Just winding around the roads through the forests all day.  As the day wore on the weather started to turn a little colder and gray.   We finally figured it was time to find somewhere to stay for the night. 

We pulled into Bischofsheim an der Rhön around 6:00.  This is a pretty small town/village.  Christian found an information kiosk with a list of local Gasthauses.  There was one listed about six kilometers out of the village we decided to try, with really no idea what it would be like.  So I set the GPS for Holzberg 1, Bischofsheim an der Rhön Germany and headed out.  For almost six kilometers we wound up a small winding road and then the GPS pointed us down an even smaller, very narrow winding road.  It had started to rain about 15 minutes earlier, so the half kilometer was a slow go.

Coming around the last corner we found the Gasthause -- the Jagdschloss Holzberghaus -- a  Hunter's Castle in the High Rhön.  We got the last two rooms.  There are no amenities here and the Bad (bathroom) is shared.  But this is to be expected at a hotel & restaurant that was built in 1614.  While the rooms were clean and adequate and sparse, the restaurant was super.  Dinner was excellent, beer great and a proper wine list.

Jagdschloss Holzberghaus

The main courses served here are hunted daily in a local game preserve, ensuring fresh, local meat. The secluded location of the castle and the fact that there are no electric lights in the dining room make for a nice, relaxing experience. Because of it's location near several hiking trails, the restaurant is open all day, although on off-hours they mainly serve bread and wurst. The evening meals can be a bit expensive, but the day meals for the hikers average about 4 euro in price. 

The next morning we woke to a light rain.  After slowly managing to get coffee, wake up and eat breakfast - also great - we packed up to head back towards home.  We decided to stay off of the small back roads because of the rain and jumped on larger roads (not the Autobahn).  After about one and a half hours the rain let up and the sky became slowly sunny.  We stopped in Bamburg a little after Noon for lunch and then took the back roads into Nürnberg.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Antique Motorcycle Club of America - Europe Chapter Meet

So after attending several Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA) meets in America, where I had the 1968 Triumph Bonneville that I restored Judged, I decided to attend my first European AMCA Meet. 

The meet was in Geldrop, the Netherlands, which is just across the border from Germany - about 550 kilometers from Nürnberg.

I took my two Triumphs (’68 Bonneville and ’68 TR6C). These were the first British bikes ever entered in the AMCA Europe meet.  The Bonneville was judged and received 99-3/4 points out of 100 possible (it was judged at 99 points at Jefferson, PA AMCA meet last Oct.), which is pretty fabulous (thanks to a lot of help from David Schostkewitz of Classic Cycles Ltd.). 

Classic Cycles Ltd.

The TR6C was not judged, but did take home a 1st place trophy for Period Modified, which is a local Chapter award. So at the end of the day I was a happy guy.

A total of 24 bikes were judged. The age range was 1912 to 1968. The European Chapter is very heavily into American bikes, mostly Harley-Davidson. There were a couple of Excelsior's as well. The quality of the bikes was just excellent. Not a dog in the bunch, plus several original and unmolested bikes that were super. Amazing to see so many fabulous vintage Harley-Davidson's in Europe.

The vendor scene was pretty small unfortunately, but this is really a very small meet with a narrow focus, so I guess this is to be expected. I think England, Germany and Holland were the countries with biggest representation, along with 2 or 3 folks from France and Italy.

There was a modest spectator turnout, and several of the spectators rode in on some great bikes. The venue itself was a real nice park - outside of Geldrop in some farm & horse country. Very pretty in deed. 

The Attic Find Trio
The highlight for me was a trio of "Attic Find" bikes brought in by a gentleman from the Netherlands. If I understood the story correctly, he was given a hint that there were some old motorcycles in the attic of a Dutch farmhouse. He went to the farmhouse to find out what was going on and what he found was pretty amazing - four motorcycles had been hidden in 1939 behind a brick wall to keep the Nazi's from confiscating them. They had been behind the brick wall up until just a few months ago when Garret (do not recall his last name) retrieved them. There were two Harley-Davidsons (a circa 1920 V-Twin 20 J (?) and a circa 1919 Model W Sport 584 cc Flat Twin Engine), a 1926 MB1 Motobecane and a very rare Eysink (manufactured in the Netherlands). The Eysink went to a museum, but the other three were at the meet.

I have attached a link to photos of an overview of the meet. Double click the thumbnails and you’ll get a larger picture with captions.

AMCA Europe 2013 Pictures

Hope you enjoy...