The highs, and the lows
|Travel From||–||Zurich, Switzerland|
|Intermediate Location||–||The Black Forest|
|Ending Location||–||Karlsruhe, Germany|
|Miles Driven Today||–||172 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||3817 Miles|
|Countries visited Today||–|
|Countries visited on trip||US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland|
Well, I’m just about 1/4 through my trip, and the mileage is just about 25% of the low estimate of total mileage (18,000 Mi). For yesterday’s ride, I calculated the average miles/hour to be about 23 miles/hour. But that’s not really a fair way of calculating my speed through the passes. If we remove the last two hours, in which I rode about 100 miles, then my average pace through the passes yesterday was actually 17.5 miles/hour. Today i rode for 6 hours, and managed 172 miles, at an average pace of 28 miles/hour.
Today’s pace was slowed considerably due to road construction, and slowing to speeds of between 20-33 mph as I enter each small town. And today, there were lots of little towns along the route. So, when riding B500, I was mostly between 45 – 65 Miles/Hour. But, more importantly, every one of today’s miles was a joy.
I’ve been adding country stickers to my Panniers, and here’s my progress so far.
Let’s set the record straight…
So, I’ve received a lot of comments, people saying that they’re glad that I’m safe, and all manner of “What an adventure”. But, one comment struck me, and I thought I’d address it. So, Jen, this one’s for you…
Jen asked, in essence, is this really a vacation that you’re on? It doesn’t sound like a vacation. So, let’s roll back the clock a bit, and see if we can come up with a good answer for my old friend Jen.
In one of my posts from several months ago, I laid out exactly what it was that I was looking for as I planned my trip. In that post, I tried to stress that I love adventure, and the best adventures are the ones that test our fitness, our fight, and our ability to have fun, in the midst of all of that. I said that I wanted to go to places that very few people go to, and that I wanted to “earn it” every day. When I laid out this plan, I had no idea exactly how I’d need to earn it, but I’d say that yesterday falls squarely in that category. So, Jen, yes, believe it or not, this is what I call vacation…
Today’s ride was awesome
Given the stress of yesterday’s ride, it was welcome to have a completely different kind of day today. I left the BnB at 8:30, and headed for the Swiss/German border. Just before I arrived at the border, at about 9:15, the first rays of sunshine started to appear over my right shoulder. The smile that this brought to my face could be seen by the passerby in the cars, and even by the cows in the field.
Riding along, corn fields on the Right, beautiful hills of lush green pastures and remote houses on my left, I was listening to the song Jessica, by the Allman Brothers. If you’ve never heard this song, then please play it, and imagine what it was like to be riding along in Switzerland, feeling the sun over my shoulder, and listening to this song as my day begins. Simply an epic moment for sure.
The Swiss/German border
Wow, these Swiss and Germans take this shit seriously. While the border crossing are almost not necessary any more, this border crossing, at both sides of a bridge over a river, was well organized, staffed, and it had lights, barriers, and important looking police mulling about. The whole thing was a bit surreal, and my only disappointment was that I couldn’t get a passport stamp, but they don’t do that any more. So, C’est La Vie.
One of the great motorcycle roads
All of the routes that I’ve planned so far, have been done with very little knowledge of the areas that I’m visiting, and of the terrain. So, I looked at a map, googled a few things, and then set out a plan and a route for a given day. As far as Germany is concerned, I asked Walter and Rosemarie a few questions, but neither was familiar with all of the areas I was asking out, and so they could not tell me too much about the terrain, although they were helpful in understanding some of the cities that I’d pass through.
So, I was more than pleasantly surprised when I discovered that route B500 is one of the best bike riding roads that I’ve ever seen. The road is about 100 miles of twisty bits, with perfect pavement, sometimes 4 lanes (2 in each direction), and sometimes 2 lanes, but always flowing, like an endless piece of rope going off into the distance.
As I rode along, I found myself saying, “what an amazing road”, “what a complete transformation from yesterday”, and finally “I’m really glad it’s not raining, and there’s no fog”. I think these three statements sum up most of my emotions for today.
A proper hotel
I’ve met so many wonderful people so far, in particular Reinhard and Stephanie, who opened their home to me, and offered me their heart. Last night, I stayed with Eva & Heinrich, who were also wonderful, and who provided me with a really great flat, and even some special amenities. So, I don’t mean to say anything bad about an Air BnB, but it’s sometimes nice to arrive at a hotel, where the rules are changed, and it’s very structured, and easy.
And so, that’s how today is. The Star Inn Hotel is brand new, clean, and perfect in just about every way. They charge 7 Euros/night to park the bike, but it’s parked 20 feet from the front door, wrapped and observed with a full security and camera system, so I’m really sure it won’t get stolen from this hotel. Nevertheless, I’ll put some locks on it just the same.
I’m glad I own a BMW
I’ve mentioned a few times already that, when I arrive in Estonia, I’m going to have the bike serviced, and get a few little things worked on. First of all, I wanted to mention that the bike is simply running like a top. It’s awesome. Lot’s of power, handles like a dream, and the brakes are confidence-inspiring. That said, the bike has 24K miles on it, and little things start to go wrong over time, and I’m one of those people that realizes that things break for a reason, so “fixing” it, is not an option. I need to have the suspect parts replaced, and I need to know that the bike is going to be error free.
When I bring the bike to BMW Motorcycles of Charlotte, they know me, and they simply offer suggestions which are always the right way to solve a problem, not the cheap way to solve a problem. And so, it is with great admiration that I’ve found another dealer that thinks this way.
The Tallinn BMW Dealer, received a message from me this morning, and has, once again, gone above and beyond. My requests continue to get broader and more complicated, but Marten simply handles them, and gets shit done. I love this guy.
This time, I mentioned that I’m getting an error related to the Automatic Stability Control system (ASC). I also mentioned that I will need some rain gear, and I provided my sizes. Marten said that the shop has a good inventory of things in my size, but he went ahead and ordered some pieces, so that I’ve got choices to pick from. In addition, he ordered two parts for me, which I would find very hard to source while on the road, but as they are a motorcycle dealer, they simply ordered them, and I’ll have them when I arrive. The two parts are a nozzle for my Gas and Water cans (Rotopak), and a RAM Ball Mount 4″ mounting bar.
I can’t wait to get to Estonia to meet the team. I feel like my little baby is going to be well taken care of, and in very good hands.
One of my goals was to eat ethnic food, whenever possible. But, I’ve been quite surprised to find out how hard that can be. For example, this evening, there were a few places to eat, within a 10 minute walk, but none of them were ethnic, and most were closed, due to this part of Germany being closed for the holidays.
So, I found a pizza place, but the entire menu was in German, and none of the folks selling Pizza spoke English. So, a guy at the counter translated for me, and we discovered that they don’t have any chicken for the pizza, and they don’t even know what Sweet Italian Sausage is. So, I ordered what I thought was a mushroom and onion pie, and was surprised to find out that what I got was materially different.
In fact, I’ve only ordered pizza twice on this trip, and both times, the pizza came with Arugula. I’m a fan of arugula for sure, but my brother Carl really loves arugula. He loves to cook with it, he loves to eat it, and he loves to say the word. Ahhhrruuuuugula. I can hear him saying it now.
What will tomorrow bring
Well, after missing her for several years now, I’m going to visit Nancy, my old personal trainer from my time in San Francisco. The cross-fit Gym I go to is run by Eric, who, like Nancy, has enough expertise to not only talk about each exercise, and how to do it right, but they also know how to accommodate peculiarities that show up in this old body of mine, from time to time. Both are experts, and I’m really lucky to have these folks in my life.
Nancy, however, is a dear old friend, with whom I’ve shared too many laughs to count. We seem to have this crazy way of inciting each other, and we seem to get really silly, really fast. So, I just can’t wait to see her again, and she’s got a new Beau, for whom she phonetically spelt his name, so that I don’t screw it up. Got it, thanks.
I expect to arrive in Belgium by 5PM, although this route is filled with variables, so I might arrive earlier, with a bit of luck. In any case, I’ll spend a couple of days with Nancy, and then it will be on to Travelmunde, where I’ll get the ferry to Finland. But, as I’m prone to do, I’ve gotten ahead of myself.