The destination: BMW Motorrad Days 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
DAY 1 – Receiving the bikes and the way to Darmstadt
We met at 8:00 to have breakfast, checked out of the hotel and took a taxi to MCD. There we met Achim and Manfred, received the motorcycles, mounted our equipment on them, signed the contracts and went on our way.
Before leaving Darmstadt, we passed through the shop of Louis Motorrad, since Shmil was in need of some new riding shoes and knee protections.
We left at 10:30, and since the event was already opening in Garmisch, we decided to leave the beautiful sideroads to the return, and travel to Garmisch in the fast motorways of Germany. Motorways? Yes. Fast? Not that much. It was the first Friday of the summer vacation, and all Germany was travelling south. A lot of traffic jams.
After some stops for lunch and refreshments, and a difficult trip of 430 Kms, we arrived to Garmisch, approximately at 17:00. Garmisch was flooded with motorcycles. Imagine a place with 27,000 inhabitants which suddenly receives 30,000 motorcycles, part of them with 2 riders. You could see motorcycles everywhere.
We did the registration, bought our PINs for the motorcycle lottery, and went to our hotel in Wallgau (20Km from Garmisch) to check-in and leave our things there.
The above pictures of the parking lot show a little of what was happening to Garmisch on these days: the town was taken over by motorcycles. Organization says that around 30,000 motorcycles were in town. All hotels were full of motorcycles in their parking lot, all streets and roads full of groups of bikers travelling around, either to a specific destination in town, or just touring the place.
After that, we returned to the event grounds at 18:30, and began roaming around. At some point we found the place where we could register for the Alpine Tour – and you cannot imagine our sadness when we heard it is sold-out. “But we came from Israel for that, and we are not coming next year!”, we said to the lady, and in the beginning she agreed to give us the map of the tour, for me to take a picture of it. After I took the picture she understood that we were decided to do it, and then she proposed: “Since you came from Israel, I am ready to do with you a deal – if you agree to be separate, I can register you both, each one in a different group.”
YES! – we answered immediately and there we were, registered for the tour, Shmil in group B and myself in group D. Later we would see that both groups left at approximately the same time, but did the itinerary in the opposite direction.
Around the place, lots of BMW classic motorcycle, together with newer bikes. These are only some examples.
In the evening, before the meeting, they introduced a Bavarian Orchestra, and at some point four guys, with Bavarian costumes, jumped up some tables and began an interesting “Dance of the whips”.
After the show, they proceeded to the first lottery, of a special R Nine T (they would raffle an F850GS in the next day). This is my only complaint to the organization of the event: neither Shmil nor me managed to win any of the two bikes… what a lack of respect! :-D
We continued walking around and visiting the tents of the presentors and some of the music concerts that were going on around the event grounds, until approximately 23:30, when we left to our hotel under a beautiful moon you can see below.
We went down for breakfast at 8:00, and around 9:15 we were already leaving the hotel back to Garmisch. We needed to be there at 10:00, but since the meeting point was at a different place and not at the event grounds, we wanted to take some spare time to find it.
At the end, we arrived a little early, at 9:50, and had the opportunity to meet our guides and talk to them in English a little before all the German guys came.
Instructions for the tour were around 15 minutes in German, followed by 1.5 minutes in English. Either German is a very complicated language to say things, or we heard 10% of what our German partners in the tour did.
But the tour began, and this is the important part. We soon left Garmisch and got on the road.
Very soon I was to find that this tour would be for me much more than a tour – it would also be a riding training. These guys (the guides and the German riders) are very experienced in the Alps, and they do those serpentines at a stunning speed for me, a 58-year-old Israeli. Add to that the fact that my bike weighted 150Kg more than their bikes (and 100Kg more than the bike I am used to ride), and you can understand what an effort this was set to be. But you are in the group, you need to stay in the group, and you cannot delay the people that are behind you. I was the 5th of 10 bikes, and I had to keep the group together, so there I went. I believe that during this tour I discovered many things that I was able to do with a motorcycle which I was completely unaware of.
Chasing a phantom group
One funny thing happened during the tour that brought a great deal of laughter in the group, and brought me to having the ride of my life in this tour: at some point, we were caught after a slow car, and the first 4 riders overtook him at some point. At my turn, a full line in the middle of the road, no overtaking… it took around 30 seconds for me to get to a part of the road where overtaking was allowed, and there I went. There was no time for the other 5 riders to do it. Then I began racing to get to the leaders, but they had completely disappeared. At some point, from the top of a hill, I see four bikers down in the road, little black points on the road, very far away. “My god, how could they open such a distance in 30 seconds?”, I thought to myself, while throttling even more to get to them. After some 5-6 minutes of chase, suddenly a crazy guy in a GS overtakes me in the middle of a curve, and made a sign to turn back. After we got to a place where we could stop and turn back, I noticed it was my guide. “I am sorry, my mistake”, he said, “we stopped for eating lunch and I forgot that I had to stay outside to lead the others in. Only when I saw you from the parking, passing straight by, I remembered and went to the entrance, guided the others (which were around one minute or more after me) in and went to get you”. So we went back to the restaurant. It turns out that for 5 minutes I had been having the best ride of my life chasing a group in front of me that did not exist.
The tour was perfect. We saw beautiful views, went through pictorial towns and villages, and road the best roads that the Tirol has to offer.
After that we went to see the stunt show, but this was cancelled some minutes after it began, since VERY heavy rain began to fall. We found shelter at the Touratech tent, and stayed there for some half-an-hour until the storm went away.
DAY 3 - Leaving Garmisch-Partenkirchen
In the next morning, after breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and began our way back to the North, to the Frankfurt area.
Differently from the way to Garmisch, this time we decided to do the Bavarian region through sideroads, and to join the highways from Stuttgart to the North, where the views become more monotonous.
In the way, we stopped for lunch at Blautopf, a place recommended by Manfred from MCD. It is a café in the region of Blaubeuren, an area in which a river becomes an underground river, and splashes out after some kilometers. A beautiful place to stop and eat, and even to take a walk through the path following the river, if we only had the time to do that.
The hotel we stayed in Oppenheim was a hidden pearl. An old castle, dating from 1904, which was the court of the city (actually the name of the hotel, Altes Amtsgericht Oppenheim, means in English “Oppenheim Old Court”). It was at the top of the town and had some nice views from its windows and balconies.
We woke up quite early in the next day, had breakfast almost as if we were the only gests in the hotel (met one couple at the end of the breakfast), and went outside to enjoy the quietness of the place.
At 9:00, after checking out, we met Manfred with the motorcycles at the hotel parking, and he guided us back to MCD for returning the bikes. It was a Monday, a day in which MCD is closed, so he opened the shop and we put the bikes inside. After that, he took us to the airport and went home. Shmil and me spent some hours sitting at the Starbucks Cafe in the airport, and then at some point each of us went to the area of his flight (Shmil was leaving from area C with El Al, and I was leaving from area B with Turkish Airlines.
And there our adventure in Boxerland ended.
One of the nice decisions Shmil and me did when planning this trip was regarding the motorcycles to rent.
We decided not to take the same BMW model that we both have, the R1200RT, but to take a model above it, which instead of the Boxer engine has a 6-cylinder engine. So Shmil took the K1600GT, while I took the K1600B Bagger. Same engine, but a completely different design. While both bikes had the same engine, gear and technical characteristics, Shmil’s bike was the regular BMW touring bike design, and the Bagger was more of a bike to compete with the higher models of Harley Davidson and Indian.
The bagger is a stunning bike, in all aspects. The engine has non-ending power, and the gear is made to take advantage of this power. Each gear is very flexible, and you can ride it in a sports way, or be more conservative and comfortable. In this second way of riding, you can reach 6th gear already at 55 Km/h, and from that moment on, as long as you don’t go under 50 Km/h, it is like riding an automatic bike – no need to shift. Just open the throttle, and the bike responds immediately.
Many people will see this as an advantage, but for me it made the engine a little too boring. For some reason, after 4 days and 1,200 Kms ridden on it, I came to the conclusion that I enjoy the Boxer engine much more. I also didn’t like the front windshield of the bike, which is too short (maximum height is around the height of my mouth) and lets a lot of wind to reach your head, making the trip noisy and shaky. Last disadvantage, despite the fact that the American version of the bike comes with a top case, the European version doesn’t offer installing a top case at all, according to our friends at MCD. No topcase, no security or comfort for my wife… so this is a BIG minus.
So my conclusion is: I will stick with the RT in my next motorcycle change. It is a perfect bike for the road and for the city. It has everything I need for touring and enjoying.
In summary, it was a great adventure, and I am bringing with me experiences that I will remember for a very long time. It is a very recommended visit to everyone that enjoys motorcycling. And if you already go there, take more than the 3 days of the event, and stay for visiting other parts of the Alps, Bavaria and the Tyrol. That region has much to be seen, and I was lucky enough to see it back in 2010 when I toured there with the Israel Burgman Club. It was good to be back in Garmisch, and if you have the time to be there at least one week, there is much to do and see there.
You can see the video of the trip below.