Friday, September 02, 2005

Rough Riders ... The Full Report

Tuesday, September 29th at 9:30 am PositiveMode and myself went to the motorcycle rental shop, where we had, the night before, reserved our respective motorcycles. I had an '03 Honda 800 VFR waiting for me and P-Mode had a '04 BMW 1150R waiting for him (years are approximate). We geared up (full helmets, jackets, gloves) and headed out down the Autobahn (route 95), taking it easy as we got used to the new bikes to Starnberg. We had the entire route planned out on maps, one of which I had taped to my tank. I was therefore in the lead.

When we got to Starnberg (about 10 miles away from Munich), we were looking for Route 2 south, but couldn't find it right away. No problem. We stopped at a gas station, where I turned off my bike, and checked the map. We found our way in less than 2 minutes. Unfortunately (of fortunately for you, in terms of interesting stories), I got back on my Honda, hit the starter ... nothing. P-Mode and I have had pretty good experience with dead motorcycle batteries, and we knew right away ... dead battery. Inauspicious start to say the least. This was at about 10 am.

We asked at the gas station for a pay phone. None. Maybe some at the train station a few miles away, but no idea. Jumper cables? Only for sale. The attendent suggested we try a mechanic down the road. Okay, maybe he can jump the bike. As we had only one working bike, P-Mode headed over to the mechanic while I waited at the gas station. About an hour later, P-Mode finally shows back up. "Where the hell were you?" Apparently, he missed the turn for the mechanic, which put him back on the Autobahn. There were no exits between Starnberg and Munich, so he had to ride back to Munich, turn around, and then go to the mechanic. Once at the mechanic, P-Mode learned that the mechanic's grasp of English was about equal to P-Mode's grasp of German, which is to say rudimentary. Turns out, the trip to the mechanic wasn't much help (PositiveMode can expound on his "conversation" with the mechanic later).

So, back at the gas station over an hour later, the only solution we could come up with was to go back to Munich where we rented the bikes, and see what they would do about the problem, i.e., give me a new bike, fix the other, money back, etc. Of course, the only way back to Munich for the two of us was me on the back of P-Mode's BMW bike. Needless to say, to grown men on a small motorcycle is not the most heterosexual mode of transportation, especially here in the states. Luckily, it is slightly more accepted in Europe, and P-Mode has long hair coming from under his helmet (thus allowing me to pretend he was a pretty lady, albeit a large pretty lady), so that's what we did. I hopped on back and off to Munich we went.

Now, I was willing to get on the back of his bike, as it was our only mode of transportation back to Munich to try and resolve the problem, but that's where I drew the line. No way was I wrapping my arms around P-Mode to hold on. Sorry, but that's where I draw the line. Instead, I had to hold on to the grab bar behind me. This method of support is much more terrifying than simply holding on to the rider (FianceeMode has confirmed this), but that's what I was left with. Needless to say, the ride back to Munich was terrifying, gay, and something I did not want to have to repeat. When we got back to Munich, the guys running the shop (very nice guys by the way) said one of them would go back down to Starnberg with us to jump the bike, and told us it would be fine like that. Okay. I trust them. Of course, in my mind, when they said they would go down with us and jump the bike, I assumed they ment in a car, in which I would ride with the guy from the shop. Nope. He meant on a bike, meaning I would have to get back on the bike with P-Mode and repeat the ride in reverse.

The second time, it was less terrifying, but still pretty gay. Oh well, we got my bike started, took the charger with us in case we ran into any other problems, and started on our trip. At the time, it really sucked, and delayed our start by about an hour and a half, but I guess it provides a good story to tell you, and a great mental picture (sorry, but we were unable to get a picture of the two of us on the bike together). Now that we got that little story out of the way, on to the actual ride, including some spectacular pictures:

From Starnberg we headed south along the shore of Starnberger See (see = lake).
From there, we continued south into the Bavarian countryside, which is mostly flat, farm land with some rolling hills.
As we wound our way further south, the hills became higher, and one in particular rose above all the farmland, so we rode to the top to get a view of the countryside. Pretty good view, and you could see for miles in every direction. Not a clound in the sky.
After coming back down the large hill we continued southward, where we stopped at the base of what appeared to be a ski resort for lunch. Up to this point, we were travelling on mostly two lane country roads, which were all in perfect shape. The roads all have a broken white center line, meaning you can pass anywhere you want, which is nice when you're on a motorcycle. The drivers are also very curtious and aware of motorcycles (moreso than here at least), so if you're going to pass, they'll pull over as far to the right as they can to make it easier. Anyway, this is where we ate lunch.
After lunch we continued southward for about 10 minutes until we reached the fairytale castle of King Ludwig II. It is simply beautiful situated on a mountain in the foothills of the German Alps. That's it over P-Mode's shoulder.
From there we continued south, through some beautiful fairytale towns and into Austria. This picture is from a town just by the Austrian border, on the German side.
Once a few miles into Austria, we stopped at a gas station just to make sure we were on the right track, and still on course. This is the view from the gas station. Not bad, but those mountains were nothing compared to the ones we were getting closer to.
This is the biggest mountain I have ever seen in my life. That is, until we rode about 20 mintues further. As you can see, you can't see the top of it, as it is surrounded by clouds. Beautiful, amazing area to ride through on a motorcycle.Shot of a stop between the Alps at a mountain stream. It was cold. We did a lot of stopping for me to take pictures and to just relax.P-Mode riding through the Austrian Alps.
Back in Germany, now in the German Alps. We were going to go down a mountain road, but it was closed due to severe flooding in Germany and Austria in the past few weeks.
This is now on the northern edge of the German Alps. There were several amazing lakes and these picturesque towns surrounding them.Just after taking the last picture, we headed up a mountain on what I thought was the best road of the whole trip, from a motorcycling standpoint. It was up the mountain and then back down the mountain on the other side, with a 90 to 180 turn every 40 feet or so. Nothing but S curve after S curve for a few miles with amazing views all around. There were hundreds of sportbikes all over the mountain running up and down, some at some pretty fast speeds. It was amazing. Not only that, but as we rounded one bend, we passed a lookout over the lake. There must have been 75-100 motorcycles parked there, the riders taking in the views or getting ready for their next run up or down the mountain.

From there we headed back up the country roads towards Munich. It was getting dark, and the mountains faded away and back into German farmland (like in the second picture). About 20-30 miles south of Munich we got on the Autobahn back to the city. Let's just say that it was the fastest I have every traveled 20-30 miles in my life. The Autobahn is amazing. I was getting blown by by soccer (football more correctly)moms in BMW station wagons who must have been going 140 mph. It all feels perfectly safe though, because the roads are in such good condition, and the drivers stay in the right lane and know what they are doing.

All in all, besides the morning mishap, it was one of the best days I had in Europe, and definately the best day I've ever had on a motorcycle. I can't imagine a better place to spend 10 hours riding around.

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