Biker meets and festivals are about camaraderie, warmth, touring, customisations, rock music, pretty girls in skimpy clothes, good food and drinks. But it is essentially about motorcycles and motorcycle enthusiasts’ dreams, aspirations and exploits. And the meet at BMW Motorrad Days 2011 is the perfect example of all that and much more. During my business development meetings in France, one fine day, I received a message from BMW Motorrad Munich inviting me to the BMW Motorrad Days at Garmisch. In a nutshell for the uninitiated, Garmisch is to BMW what Cannes is to cinema in Europe. There are no awards to be won but you win much more than awards at the Motorrad Days!
After flying into München from Paris, I was headed towards the Press Office at Garching where I was supposed to pick up my bike, meet two other Auto Journalists from India and head towards the festival. This is where I was signed in with the papers of a 1200 GS Adventure! My dream bike! Phew!!!
I was thrilled when I saw these papers...
The Press Office at Garching
As I was loading my bike, Sopan from Zigwheels and Rishad from AutoCar walked in. They were riding a R series and the brand new inline-6, 1600 GT. Now this was going to be fun riding with these guys who are professional riders and they ride to make a living. There were supposed to be two more guys, another Indian from Bombay, Mr. Keki Modi and a Scottish fellow from Dubai with a huge sense of humour by the name of Kevin Hughes. Keki was riding the K1300R, one of my favourites and Kevin was riding the HP2 Sport which became one of my favourites! And ride was being led by Mr Christian Endres himself, one of the main responsible persons for imports, riding a GS 1200 as well.
And the bike that they give me to ride to the fair...
The ride began badly. Rain came down. First as a drizzle. Then it became progressively heavier and I could barely make out the tail lights and the shape of the bike in front of me through my visor. We rode on and it showed 8°C on the console of my GS! I was not feeling cold since I had switched on my heated grips. But I was not exactly entirely relishing the ride. Christian took the pains of taking us through some beautiful country roads, winding through the vales, alongside clear lakes. Unfortunately we could neither stop much nor take pictures due to the rains that continued incessantly. And we rode in at the Grand Hotel, Sonnenbichl at Garmisch.
And as always, since we had stopped riding, it stopped raining as well!
From here on things started moving at a rapid pace. Out of pure chance, I got acquainted to the North American BMW Motorrad team who practically adopted me. We went out together to the festival, a little over 20 minutes walk from our hotel. After riding a Boxer for over 150 kms, I had gotten used to the sound of Boxers booming around us… a sound that is the soul of BMW motorcycles and I had taken a strong affinity towards them.
Welcome to Garmisch-Partenkirchen
There were motorcycles flowing around the town of Garmisch- Partenkirchen. The scent of a motorcycle festival was in the air. Surrounded by mountains topped with white cream, this beautiful small town provided the perfect backdrop for a roaring motorcycling fiesta! The crowds were beginning to pour in and the first evening count was closing in on 20,000 participants! But organisation by BMW was crisp and efficient like their machines with a regular dedicated bus fleet shuttling participants to and from their hotels and for bikers, parking was ample.
The Band that made a difference...
BMW Motorrad Munich had provided me with a press band on my wrist that worked like an access card and I could move around freely amongst restricted areas, shoot at will, check out their online Facebook and other Social Media teams in conversation with the world regarding the Motorrad Days. This band also gave me magical access to practically unlimited breakfast, lunch and sumptuous dinner spreads of the tastiest meats from some of the local piggeries and cow sheds. I also got to taste a lot of German beer and some good white and red wines! And all this was happening around some very interesting discussions around BMW motorcycles. The North American team was an interesting bunch. They were dedicated in their work, fun-loving in their partying, warm and helpful to fellow men and really good in their motorcycling knowledge.
The BMW Motorrad North American Team
The Pretty Bavarian girl in typical Bavarian attire who was the hostess at our table
The Food at our table
It was 10 in the evening, the sun was setting, the arc lights had come on and the band on stage was livening up the crowd. The merriness had just begun!
Good ol' American Rock and Roll... party time!
Night was falling... a view of the tents that were the stands of the various representing companies and teams
End of Day 1... more to come... soon...
The feeling of waking up in the valley of the Alps at 1000 metres altitude at Sonnenbichl in close proximity to the festival of Garmisch-Partenkirshen, surrounded by white mountains is best experienced on site and I was one of the fortunate ones to be right in the thick of it! The view of the mountains from my room was what one wishes for. And the parking in front of the hotel was several long lines of BMW motorcycles waiting like silent monsters, faithful and reliable, in all shapes and sizes, mostly big GS, easily totaling close to a 100 which is a very healthy number keeping in mind the limited inventory of around 60 rooms.
Following a sumptuous breakfast of crispy croissants, carpaccio of Salmon, some blue cheese and a good shot of espresso, I went out with the American Team, who had by now nearly adopted me to the parking lot. We were riding into town together, straight to the festival. I checked accuweather and it did not augur well for a long ride. I have had enough of wet roads, rains through the 150 kms of riding the previous afternoon at 8°C. My gloves and balaclava were still damp and cold from the ordeal though I had put them on the room radiator all night! We started getting our bikes ready for the short ride to Garmisch. Yes, even for a short ride, a bike like the GS needs preparation, mostly mental for people like me with my height and slight built! But then we will keep the discussion on this marvelous bike for another day.
Garmisch is a small quaint town. Crossing the town one comes to the huge fair grounds immediately after a level-crossing, populated with numerous white tents, one of the fundamental colours of the BMW CI, and over 15000mts² of camping area right next to the festival. Prior to the festival grounds are the parking areas where I noticed several thousand people trying to park their various steeds. But the overnight torrential rains did not help at all. The parking areas resembled a huge swamp where the ground was wet, slippery, slushy and the tyres would sink in, slide and me with my short height, I could barely reach down and keep the bike upright. But I managed. To help out the visitors and the participants, BMW organizers had placed at the parking entrances who were handing out square wooden planks to all the bikers to be placed as support under the sidestand to prevent the bike from sinking into the mud. The way BMW has applied foresight in the organization of the mega event is commendable and is a direct reflection of the meticulous way the company functions in every respect.
We parked our bikes and walked across the level crossing, a train passed by providing some amusement to the bunch of bikers riding in. No sooner did I reach the festival grounds that the rain started coming in as a heavy drizzle. I ran back to the parking to recover my rain gear for my camera (and myself!). The next few hours were spent in discovering the various stands of the various companies working in dedicated collaboration with BMW and the various BMW Teams from France, Italy and of course BMW AG Munich and Husqvarna.
The Older Race Spec
The Newer Race Spec Look at the difference in the exhaust systems.
Full Carbon Fibre
Wheelie Trial Machine No helmet required. No knee guards required. You just have to get a hang of the thing!
Husqvarna Practice Track
The BMW Motorrad online team replying to questions and reporting worldwide over the web!
BMW Classics Bikers from India, go do your homework and tell us what this is and the history behind the bike!
The afternoon was dedicated in meeting the BMW Motorrad Munich folks whom I had met in India in 2010, mostly responsible for Marketing and Imports. An intense two hour discussion followed regarding plans in India.
Unfortunately the rains kept coming in intermittently and heavily through the day. Late in the afternoon I finally had to rule out a ride completely for the day. I went back to the hotel to freshen up and for the evening concert. Myrrd Davis, the responsible for BMW Motorrad US for Events, helped me with the huge GS out of the parking which by now had begun to resemble the tropical swamplands of Sundarbans!
BMW Motorrad Days 2011 at Garmisch-Partenkirshen, Welcome! - YouTube
On my way back from the hotel to the festival, Myrrh and I walked through Garmisch. It is a lovely town with beautifully laid out houses and cafés. It is essentially a ski resort in the Bavarian Alps. Just being in the town gives a soothing effect. It is relatively calm despite the presence of a huge number of bikers totaling over 5000 and visitors going beyond 40000!
Back to the huge tent for the dinner and party time in the evening with some illustrious company of Mr. Hans Blesse, who heads BMW Sales and Marketing worldwide, Mr. Peter Nettesheim, who has a BMW collection apparently better than BMW themselves in his own museum! Three tables I saw Chris Pfeiffer dining. The band came on to play. The mood got really easy. And when “Smoke on the Water” came on, the girls were on the tables dancing!
And during the party, suddenly I saw someone 5 feet away from me! No prizes for guessing this one…
What a day it was! And what a night!!!
Event Courtesy BMW Motorrad
Visit Invite by BMW Motorrad
Text and Photos: Krishnendu. KEN, supported by Deutsche Motoren, New Delhi.