May 4, 2022

Well, it isn’t exactly the start to the trip that we were hoping for, but we’re starting nonetheless.

We left Austin, Texas on a direct Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, Germany. I was surprised to find that our flight was direct, as there aren’t many places you can fly directly to out of Austin. We surmised that there must be a tech company connection between Austin and Germany that gave reason for this flight twice a week, but when we boarded the plane, very few people onboard, if any, looked like tech nerds. In fact, most looked like retired tourists, and many were simply connecting through Frankfurt to other countries in Europe. So we’re still a bit baffled about the logic behind the direct Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt from Austin.

It’s probably just a result of my advanced age, but for maybe the first time, I was wishing we had a connection rather than a direct ten hour flight. Sitting in my seat after five hours, watching the map on the screen and realizing we hadn’t even made it over Iceland yet, made the flight seem like forever. I used to do those long flights to Japan fairly regularly, and it never bothered me. I’m not sure why this one took its’ toll, but once we landed in Frankfurt at 9am local time (2am Texas time), we were beat. We had a shuttle ride to Heidelberg, where the bike is stored, and we spend most of Tuesday sleeping.

BMW Room Entrance
We ended up with Room #1: The BMW Room for our first two nights in Heidelberg, Germany.

BMW Room Bathroom
The bathroom in the BMW Room. All BMW, All The Time.

Although sleeping most of Tuesday afternoon meant less sleep during Tuesday night, it was probably good that we at least slept Tuesday afternoon, as the motion-sensor light outside our room continuously flashed on and off every five minutes or so all night, creating a light show in the room that made it hard to sleep.

I was determined to stay awake all day Wednesday and get back on a normal schedule, so first thing in the morning, I found the bike and rolled it out of the warehouse to put the windscreen and mirrors back on, connect the battery, and fuel up. And that’s when the “fun” started: apparently at some point during its’ trek across the Atlantic, another bike (a red one, it appears from the paint left on my bike) decided to attack our new Tenere. The right pannier and lid suffered significant damage, and there is additional damage to the right handlebar switch, master cylinder, fairing, handguard, left pannier, and our TouraTech locking GPS mount. Ugh. I will unfortunately repeat the statement I made in 2016: “The only damage my motorcycles have ever suffered during my long rides is when they have been put into the hands of someone else.” This is one of the reasons that I do all of my own work on my bikes, but there are certain points that are out of my control, and shipping the bike is one of them. I did all I could do before handing it off, and, well, the results aren’t pretty.

Fortunately none of the damage prevents us from continuing on, although the pannier damage will likely make the pannier leak during rain, and it’s where we store our electronics, so some additional preparation will be necessary. I’ve beat the lid and the box back into shape as best I can with a hammer and two blocks of wood, but a water-tight seal is unlikely.

I also ended up having to ride into Mannheim today to a motorcycle shop to find some replacement straps for the pannier lid, as the straps were also damaged in the Attack of the Red Bike. Now back at our launch point, I think we are ready to go. Tomorrow is looking to be one of our longest days in terms of mileage, as the goal is to get out of Germany. It won’t be a fun day, since we’ll spend most of it on the highway (Autobahn), but we’re one day closer to where we want to be, and we can slow down after that. The temperatures and the weather thus far have been great, although as I type this, the rain has started. I’m sure it will be brief, but it’s a good chance to see if the pannier leaks while sitting parked at least.

Heidelberg Speedway Poster
I was laughing at this “Heidelberg Speedway” poster, with the “8 miles southwest of Pittsburg, PA” and “Tri-State Championship for Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio”, until I looked it up. There really is a Heidelberg, PA eight miles southwest of Pittsburgh, and it was named after Heidelberg, Germany, where a large number of its’ original settlers came from.

One thought on “Launch

  1. I hope the rest of your trip is non-eventful. Looking forward to the narration as well as pictures. My dreams of going to Europe were squashed the day I had my stroke. Long days are really hard on me.

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