Monday, September 28, 2009
Christoph is able to take me to the airport in the morning where we are able to travel 180 kilometers an hour at brief times on the Autobahn, I think my daily average on the bike could be done in 20 minutes at that rate. The airport in Munich is about 20 years old and has a very modern feel to it with lots of open space and very elegant shops and restaurants. The Air Stream trailer turned into lunch wagon was very cool with the added on wings and motor.
The flight back across the Atlantic was far better this time on United Airlines than what I experienced 3 years ago on U.S. Air. My layover is in Chicago where I will be staying with David Lind who has 2 tickets to see the White Sox play the Detroit Tigers. Wonderful evening as we drink canned Heineken poured into a plastic cup and watch the home team win. I ended up catching a t-shirt thrown into to the crowd and later hand it to the young lady sitting in front of us who had commented that she was learning German when she heard of my trip.
To bed by 11:00 and up just past 3:00, I would much rather be sitting in an airport on the other side of the security than waiting in line. Off to Denver after a cup of Starbucks cardboard roast and a stale bagel, but I am thinking of the family waiting at home who I miss os much. I know they will be waiting and when I get there the kids have soccer games before we get to the house.
Thanks for listening, I will try to piece together video coverage to post at a later date.
Neil - Pedaling to Oktoberfest 2009
The early part of the day is spent packing, which takes longer than I had thought and I don't get into Munich until almost 2:00. One more time through Merienplatz where I come across the Agent Provocatour shop and their elegant window display with everyone dressed for play. I stop by Siegestor Hotel to say goodbye to Monika Klaus who runs the place. If you are ever going to Munich this place is close to downtown, Schwabing District, yet not so close that it is so crowded when you go out. One last ride through the Englisher Garden and I finally see the surfers of the Isar River.
I stop by to see Erika who is working hard on getting stuff together for the dinner she holds every year for a local school for handicap children, say my goodbyes and head to the bike store to drop off the Rock Rider. I find that Ben is on a trip to Thailand and the only other person who speaks english is busy with a very demanding customer for the next 30 minutes. Dinner is waiting and I have to go so I take the bike back to Christoph's where it will be brought in later or become part of the quiver over commuting bikes that he has.
We have a traditional Bavarian meal of pumpkin soup and bread before going out on last time for a Wildbrau, Hefe-Weissbier at one of the local restaurants in Grafing.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
By 11:00 I am ready with a group from the village of Hofolding, just south of Munich, at the doors of the Spaten brewery where our tour will begin. We start with a movie about the history of Spaten, Lowenbrau and Fransikaner breweries, how they make their product and how the rebuild after WW2. Next we tour the facility and see where the beer is brewed and bottled but what was most interesting to me was the recycling, washing and inspecting of old bottles in the facility. Something I think is not legal in the states anymore.
At the end of the tour our group heads to the top of the building for some beer tasting and Leberkäs a very traditional Bavarian meat product. Keeping up with my new Bavarian friends on beer tasting was my next task as every 10 minutes there was a toast for the Colorado Boy - 2 liters later they were departing for their spot in one of the tents to start celebrating Oktoberfest while I was going to meet Erika Bloch for dinner.
After shopping a little bit I head to Erika’s earlier than we had planned because the train backs to Grafing leaves the station at 11:00 and I don’t want to miss it. We spend the evening catching up as she takes me to places that she know where they will still let you smoke inside. At almost 90 she can stay up drinking and smoking well past midnight most of the time and is disappointed that I must leave so early.
For those who don’t know, it was Erika who first encouraged me to come to Munich 3 years ago after helping her with a dinner invite for handicap children that she puts on every year. If you ever have the chance to do something for someone for free you never know what the encounter may lead to.
Last year in Durango at the Oktoberfest event I meet Gustav Brünn and native of Bavaria and we have stayed in touch since then. While traveling in America in his R.V. he happened upon our event and thought it would be fun to see how we celebrate Oktoberfest in Durango.
I told him I was coming to Durango for the Oktoberfest event in Munich and we made plans to meet. I was not sure what to expect thinking I might just be sitting drinking while Gustav and his friends talk amongst themselves. However that was not the case for they were fantastic company and knew quite a few people running the event. I first get to meet Rudy who is the head of security in the Ochsenbruterei tent and not long after he introduces us to Herman Haberl the owner of the tent. Herman sits with us for the next half hour talking about the place and his attempt to do something similar in America. Herman found that the different way the two societies view beer was the biggest problem he encountered where in Germany it is classified as a food and in America it is a drug.
After a few rides in the carnival section of the festival we make our way to the Lowenbrau tent where Rolf greets us. Rolf, who is head of marketing at Lowenbrau, is a friend of Gustav’s friend Franz and seats us at his personal table. I get to talk to him for quite a while on the making of beer and why it is hard to find an Ale Beer in Germany. This seems to be partly due to the Bavarian brewing laws and the preference of the Bavarian’s taste in beer, they would prefer a great Lager from the area. Rolf also say while growing up he recalls when his grandfather would send him to the pub to pick up a stein of beer for him how he would consume the head of the beer on the way home, he said it was his ice cream - very delicious.
I have to get my stuff washed before breakfast because I have nothing to wear that does not smell like a bike riding dirt bag.
The day is slow but I check with Ben, who owns the used bike shop, to see if he will take the bike off my hands an it looks like he will on Thursday. It is fantastic weather at the moment and everyone is riding their bikes and the Englisher Garden is full of people.
I am staying at Christoph and his wife Monica’s place in Grafing, which has a very contemporary feel on the inside which contrasts nicely with the traditional German houses outside, great place.
Christoph is working on a place in the Bodensee where he can have a painting studio and gallery along with a community space for people to learn about cooking and enjoying the better things in life. The Bodensee is located at the intersection of Austria, Switzerland and Germany and is considered the fruit basket of the area.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Up early and out of the garden by 7:00 and I decide to ride around in the downtown area and notice everyone getting ready for the parade with the Breweries and their horse wagons looking great.
After following the parade to the festival I find the tent where I will be meeting Christoph and the folks he works with at ORT and other ad agencies that they work on projects with. Christoph is excited to see me and fills in everyone about the trip and they all laugh about making a trek to Oktoberfest by bicycle.
It was great being with such a fantastic group of people and to celebrate with them a festival that has been going on since 1810 when King Ludwig of Barvaria married Therese von Sachsen-Hild-burghausen of Austria.
During the trip I have been asked about President Obama many times and how as a country we feel about him. I meet Felix in the beer tent and he spots me as an American right off and asks about our president. He goes on to say that we as the people of the world need to follow his lead in creating true change in how the world works and to keep moving forward with policies that are inclusive to the people of the world. He goes on to say that if President Obama is willing to risk his life for this that we should all is inspired to do the same.
The rest of the afternoon is enjoyed with my new friends from Munich with lots of food and great Spaten beer. The music is also a big part of the event with the band playing a lot of traditional songs from the area, which upon asking is about really funny and sometimes sexually suggestive. They also play a lot of American pop songs for example James Taylor's ``take me home`´. Each time a real favorite comes on everyone will start singing and the girls will get on their chairs singing and drinking and having a great time.
I leave when the crowd starts to get rough and head back to the hotel, two more spokes break on the way to the hotel.
I had too much beer last night and paid the price this morning. The problem was everyone was dressed in the Oktoberfest outfits for the event was to be starting the next day and I got caught up in the atmosphere and stayed too long enjoying the moment - ouch.
Got on the road by 9:00 heading southwest for the train line bad while traveling meet Sebastian who was riding the same direction this morning. We had a great conversation as we traveled through the countryside talking about everything from cycling & politics to kids & education.
To everyone I meet on this ride lets try to stay in touch.
I know that Munich will be packed with visitors going to the Oktoberfest event and I do not have a room booked for the next two nights. If I stay in the countryside I might find a place but I will have to make it to town and then try to find a place for that night anyway. I take the gamble to go to town and see if I find a place to stay or not and get a train ticket out of Turkeim to get there.
Once in Munich I stop by my friend Erika Bloch's house to say hello and search for a room. The town is pack and the rooms are booked and with dinner plans 45 minutes away I head to the Englisher Garden and head north until I find a thicket of trees that will work out just fine. Erika and her friends keep me up till just after 11:00, early on her schedule, and I am able to find my way through the darkness to my bed for the night. The specific ``Bootleg`` camp spot training has paid off on this trip.
Sorry, this day got missed while posting the other day.
Back up to just after ``the tail of two cities`` and insert this installment.
I wake up in Strasbourg not knowing if I want to stay in town for two nights or move on but I still pack everything. I cruise town get a coffee and decide to head to the town of Colmar. On the map I see that there is a bike route along the canal heading south of town so I take it to the end. It is nice that there is a trail but the bumps from the tree roots cause for a slower approach. The second part of the ride brings me through small French towns where everyone farms. Each house in town had the barn behind it with everything you would expect to see on any farm in the American countryside this lead to lots of farm equipment on the road with each town showing up every 3 kilometers or so.
Roofs of the homes tell a different story in them as I travel through starting with the reed roofs of the Netherlands, the flatter roofs of Belgium buildings and the sharper pointed clay tile roofs of German houses.
I coast up to a stop putting all my weight on the left pedal after swinging my right foot over and think that has got to be stressing something - ping spoke #2 breaks. Limping into town again I find one bike store with no time to help but later I am able to locate a Decathlon Store and they do a great job of helping me out.
I head out of town toward Frieburg and find a spot in the forest just before Widensolen in a small thicket. As darkness is falling I hear something like a shot and pass it off for a breaking branch. 15 minutes later I hear a shot loud and clear this time from across the road, I hope they don't come hunting on my side of the road. Darkness falls as the rain starts to come in heavy.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I slept great at the hotel and they serve breakfast as well. I buy a ticket through the Black Forest and the climb was 3,000´feet, if it was sunny I might have tried it. Upon traveling over the hill by train I see that the trip would have been a tough day with the whole Black Forest taking 3-5 days with all your touring gear.
I was planning to stay at Christoph Barth's place by the Bodensee but his plans changed and his business will have a place under the Schottenhamel tent at 12:00 am on Sunday and he has a spot waiting for me. I make the decision to take the train all the way to Ulm on the eastern side of the Black Forest. It is 4:00pm by the time I get off the train and before I get out of town, I break the 5th spoke at this point but it only takes 10 minutes to fix it then I am off.
Down the road a cyclist, Eric who slows down and asks where I am going, passes me. I explain what I am up to and that I will be looking for a Gusthaus for the night where upon we ride for the next 20k to a great place in his hometown of Wiessenhorn. If I had not broken the spoke I would has missed this encounter.
It rained all night long and I was up wondering if that would mean clear skies for the next day - no deal, but it quit raining at least. I stayed dry but as you can imagine things still get damp through the night and while packing.
I cross into Germany over the Rhine River one of the largest in the region. I expected to see grapes on the French side of the river but the vineyards are on the German side where the limestone bluffs rising up.
Once I cross I quickly got lost and found myself at the same point I was 40 minutes earlier. The sun has only shown up a couple of times so far on the trip and without being able to see it I get turned around allot.
On the way to Frieburg I get lost again going through the town of Tiengen and find myself at the same point I was 1 hour earlier. I break two more spokes going into town so when I get there I pick up everything I need to make repairs on the road.
I decide to get a room and dry my stuff out where I set up the tent to let it dry completely, while seeing Frieburg in the process for it is at night when you are able to see how a town moves. I find that this city has more of a balance between working class, tourism & a college. There are also more homeless people here than any other city so far. Metz however was the place where I was asked to donate or engage in some way the most.