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The Final Chapter - Week Nine: 04 Jul ~ 11 Jul 2006 - Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany

"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for." - Louis L'Amour (1908 - 1988)

"No one travelling on a business trip would be missed if he failed to arrive." - Thorstein Veblen (1857 - 1929)

"What you've done becomes the judge of what you're going to do -- especially in other people's minds. When you're traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don't have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road." - William Least Heat Moon

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." - Emerson

Centered at the coordinates in the center of the image, a Google Earth view from 50 kilometers up of the area surrounding Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, home of the BMW Motorrad International Biker Meeting, the largest BMW rally in the world, and a final highlight of the GlobeRiders World Tour 2006..
(Image courtesy of  Google Earth)

Starting location for this week: Krakow, Poland
Ending location for this week: Munich, Germany, The World Cup, and Home . . . .
Planned mileage for this week: 690 kilometers (380 miles), 4 countries!

Dzien dobry ("hello" in Polish)

Czesc ("hello" in Polish - familiar)

Czolem ("hello" in Polish)

Serwus ("hello" in Polish)

Dobrý den ("hello" in Slovak)

Ahoj ("hello" in Slovak)

Nazdar ("hello" in Slovak)

Guten Tag ("hello" in German - Central Europe)

Hallo ("hello" in German - Central Europe)

Grüß dich ("hello" in German - Central Europe - informal)

Tag ("hello" in German - Central Europe - informal)

Griass di ("hello" German- Bavarian Alps - in spoken language)

Griass enk ("hello" in German - Bavarian Alps - in spoken language)

Servus ("hello" in German - Southern Bavaria)

Hä ("hello" in German - Bairische)

Hää ("hello" in German - Bairische)

Griàßdigood ("hello" in German - Bairische)

Griàßdi nachà ("hello" in German - Bairische)

Moin ("hello" in German - Northern Germany)

Moin moin ("hello" German - Northern Germany)

Guude ("hello" in German - Hessisch)

Ei guude wie ("hello" in German - Südhessisch)

Moin ("hello" in German - Südhessisch)

Only 690 kilometers this week, but in this short distance, we travel through 4 countries. It's the end of the World Tour. As America celebrated Independence Day, we wandered the beautiful Market Square of Krakow, while Europe continued its frenzied celebrations attending the final rounds of the World Cup.

It's been a long ride, but what a magnificent one!  We lost one bike along the way, but all the riders made it to Munich, or points beyond.  As a final treat, we participate in the BMW Motorrad International Biker Meeting in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Now in its sixth year, it's the largest BMW rally on earth, and over 30,000 riders are expected to attend.

In the last days of the tour, my notebook PC suffered a "catastrophic failure". Unable to publish this chapter from the road, I'm doing so from my desktop in Seattle, Washington, USA, already home, getting re-acclimated to the local time, and getting back into life after having been on the road for three months. I'll admit it a little weird to sit here and recall the final week of the tour from an ocean and a continent away.  And, caught up in the final day's activities, only Frank found the time to publish a story, so you'll be reading stories from yours truly to flesh things out.

It's good to be home, but I have to admit, I look forward to the Next Great Adventure already!

Mike, Your Webmeister

* * * * * * * * * *

Unless otherwise noted, all photographic images on this page were taken by Helge Pedersen.

The many forms of "Hello" in over 800 languages and other useful words and phrases are courtesy of Jennifer's Language Page.

To find out what time it is there (or anywhere!), visit The World Clock.

For more information about the countries in southern Africa that the riders will travel through, please visit the resources listed below:

- The World Factbook, maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States:

- The Consular Information Sheets, provided by the Department of State of the United States:

- The web-based, free-content encyclopedia entries at Wikipedia, maintained by "GlobeWriters" everywhere":

Day 57 - 04 Jul 2006 - Krakow, Poland

No matter how interested the traveler, there comes a point when you've seen one more church or castle than you're really interested in.  After over two months on the road, I guess one can become a little starved for variety, something new.  Back on the World Tour 2002, at the suggestion of GlobeRider and good friend Jim Hay, Aillene, Jim and I went to visit the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine outside of Poland. I never imagined that a salt mine (salt being one of the most common compounds on Earth, after all) could be so engrossing, but amazing it was.  We've added the Mine the itinerary of every World Tour since.  It's well worth a visit, no matter how jaded a traveler you are!  Here is a description from the website:

"One traveled Frenchman observed in the 18th century that Krakow's Wieliczka salt mine was no less magnificent than the Egyptian pyramids. Millions of visitors, the crowned heads and such celebrities as Goethe and Sarah Bemhardt among them, have appeared to share his enthusiasm when exploring the subterranean world of labyrinthine passages, giant caverns, underground lakes and chapels with sculptures in the crystalline salt and rich ornamentation carved in the salt rock. They have also marveled at the ingenuity of the ancient mining equipment in the Wieliczka salt mine. And the unique acoustics of the place have made hearing music here an exceptional experience. "

"The Wieliczka Salt Mine, nowadays practically on the southeast outskirts of Krakow, has been worked for 900 years. It used to be one of the world's biggest and most profitable industrial establishments when common salt was commercially a medieval equivalent of today's oil. Always a magnet, since the mid-18th century Krakow's Wieliczka salt mine has become increasingly a tourist attraction in the first place. Today visitors walk underground for about 2,000 m in the oldest part of the salt mine and see its subterranean museum, which takes three hours or so."

"Nine centuries of mining in Wieliczka produced a total of some 200 kilometers of passages as well as 2,040 caverns of varied size. The tourist route starts 64 m deep and ends 135 m below the earth surface, where the world's biggest museum of mining is located with the unique centuries-old equipment among its exhibits. Still below, some 210 m deep, there is a sanatorium for those suffering from asthma and allergy. Occasionally concerts and other events take place in the Wieliczka mine’s biggest chambers."

The Salt Mine is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you may read more about this by clicking here.

The images to the left are courtesy of Ann Roberg.

And, obviously, pretty much everything you see, including the chandeliers, are carved from, or made of . . . salt!

Day 59 - 06 Jun 2006 - Brno, Czech Republic


The GlobeRiders’ World Tour 2006 continues unabated to excite, astound, invigorate and at the same time wreak havoc with one’s emotions.

Excitement in seeing such a variety of people in their ongoing day to day living ... from the Chinese peasant in his rice field to the Oligarch of Kiev in his mega-bucks Maserati.

Astounded by the lack of running water for a family of 4 in their 400 sq. ft. Soviet flat in L’viv. They had a sink, toilet and tub ... just no water connected to any of the fixtures ... rusted out or plugged up ... dipping water from a plastic container in the bathtub to wash or flush. And yet, the family was very happy ... resting in the faith of their Higher Power. Their belief in the Second Advent gives them hope.

Invigorated by the rapid rate of progress in the change over from Communism to a Capitalistic approach and the resultant improvement in their living standard.

But an emotion that also keeps surfacing in my reflections while riding, is mankind and war. This ride across our planet’s largest landmass has impacted me in many ways ... fortunately most of them in a very positive way ... yet one cannot visit the memorial on Volgograd’s Mamaev Hill and see the Panorama painting depicting the beginning of the Soviet’s ultimate victory ... a victory that cost over a million lives (Nazi and Soviet) in a six month period in Volgograd alone ... a fraction of the 26,000,000 Soviets lost during the WWll. That’s TWENTY SIX MILLION humans! One cannot begin to comprehend it .... WAR!!!!

A visit to Auschwitz and Birgenau is heavy. Whether Sadam’s Iraq or Pol Pot’s Killing Fields or Hitler’s Third Reich, the realization comes through that in mankind’s current condition there is the latent potential for unheard of and unimaginable evil. A brief glimpse into just one of Auschwitz atrocities: Women ‘tried’, ‘convicted’ and knowing they were going to be shot ... had to strip naked and walk to the Killing Wall in front of their killers .... The Nazis took not only their lives, but the one last spark of dignity. WAR!!!

History reminds us that the surest avoidance of war is a strong defense.

WAR!!!..........If only??????????

(Helge and Mike. Thanks again for this unbelievable and life impacting experience. Mike, congratulations!! You made it. You’re quite a man!)


Day 61 - 08 Jul 2006 - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

This year, we pushed back the departure of the World Tour by about two weeks, hoping to avoid the cold and snow that we had previously experienced in Inner Mongolia.  We normally timed the end of the World Tour to coincide with BMW Motorrad's annual Biker Meeting, the corporate sponsored rally in Garmisch, Germany - the largest BMW rally in the world. However, rider safety is the overarching concern, and because of our delayed departure, we expected to miss the Rally this year, but a planetary alignment occurred, BMW changed the dates (no doubt, to accommodate us <g>), and we were able to join in on the festivites after all.

And do it in style!

It's good to have friends in high places. Helge worked with BMW for some special group consideration.  BMW booked the entire group into their "base" hotel, just a leisurely walk from the actual Rally site.  Everyone received complementary T-shirts, mugs and caps. We had reserved seating in the VIP area in the main tent, and they picked up the tab for all the food and drink.  This was evidently manifest when one of the riders asked the waitstaff to clear five empty "mass" beer mugs on the table, and bring him one full one. A few minutes later, due to a happy misunderstanding, five one-liter mugs of beer were placed in front of him!

Holding up his end of the bargain, Helge prepared a video and short presentation about the World Tour, which was shown during the opening event ceremonies in the "big tent". Just prior, the Mayor had given the Key to the City to the Rally. In the following days, Helge also gave his "10 Years on 2 Wheels" and "Best of World Touring" multimedia shows in the BMW TravelPoint Event Tent.

Everyone was greeted with rain and overcast skies on Friday, the opening day. After that, the clouds cleared and temperatures rose, insuring a good turn-out. As usual, BMW did everything in style.  Parking was organized and convenient (all cars, even Bimmers, had to park in lots further away). Any make motorcycle was welcome.  Admission to everything was free, attendees only had to pay for goods and consumables. There were demos, rides, stunt exhibitions, presentations, fashion shows, live music, vendor booths, and a seemingly endless supply of food and beverage.  The beer flowed freely - I've been to Oktoberfest, and inside the Main Tent, the mood and drinking were felt pretty much the same.

It's an incredible Rally - I hope that every Beemer owner gets the change to attend - plan your European vacation around it. The area is beautiful, home to the Winter Olympics back in 1936. Hitler's minions built his Eagle's Nest, the summer retreat, nearby.  There are wonderful Alpine roads and lakes in the surrounding area. It is a Biker's Paradise.

Best of all, since this wasn't't your "Loud Pipes Saves Lives" crowd, there was no "attitude", just enthusiasts, all you heard was music and conversation, which certainly rose to a fevered pitch as they broadcast the World Cup in the Main Tent at night - it was quite a party, and a great finale to the Long Ride from Beijing.


[All images in this story by Mike Paull]

"The Day After" - 20 Jul 2006 - Seattle, WA USA

Thanks for your support!

I do not mention them often (enough), but there are some players in this game that I really would like to give credit for what you see and hear from us here at GlobeRiders.

First of all, thanks to BMW for making such great bikes. After all, none of our participants are asked to bring a specific make of bike and still, this time, we had 18 BMW bikes and one “other” one.

Personally I was very impressed by the all-new BMW R1200GS Adventure that now has 10,863 miles and never missed a beat. For what we did on this journey, there is not a bike on the market today that could have done a better job. I love the fuel capacity and the luggage system. The handling is superb and the engine has a great power band.

But since not everyone is perfect, there is Touratech. They make all kinds of accessories to complement and to make the BMW even more attractive for us world travelers. We thank them sincerely for their fine workmanship and wonderful products. We also thank BMW for choosing Touratech to make and produce the great panniers that come on the R1200GS Adventure bike. If you have the chance, take a close look at the mounting system and all the details that has been worked in to this hardware, fantastic!

On the clothing side I did enjoy the new BMW Rally 2 Pro Jacket and can’t wait to get the pants to match. For the rainy days, I have decided to go with a set of Gore-Tex pants and jacket. To use these I actually have to stop the bike to put on the suit, contrary to a Gore-Tex liner that is on the inside of your Cordura suit

There are many reasons for this decision. For starters, I believe that a layer of rain protection that stops the water from penetrating in to your clothing before it starts working in keeps you much warmer and therefore happier. The KlimaKomfort Suit from BMW is also a very durable and good-looking suit that can be used not only while you ride, but also for hikes and walks around town.

The Santiago Boots, like previous Gore-Tex boots from BMW, fits great and need no time to break in. I carried to pair of gloves, the Rally Gloves, that I used 90% of the time and the Pro Winter Gloves. Fortunately I did not have to use the winter gloves too much.

But no matter how good the above clothing is made, with use it also needs to be maintained. Riding a bike around the world requires extra good care and with NIKWAX I have personally treated all of my riding gear to keep it up to the task. This time was the first time that I had the chance to try the new liquid treatment. It was easy to apply and not as messy as the old style petrol-based treatment. So far my boots are keeping me dry and only time can tell if this is the way to go. After each tour I always wash and treat both my riding suit and Gore-Tex rain suit with Nikwax.

Fortunately this time we did not have to use MedjetAssist, but we are always sure to have your membership with us wherever we go, just in case!

And at the end we thank you, Motorcycle Services and their Motorcycle Express program, for getting us trouble-free and safe home after the long journey. A successful journey could not end better than flying back home with your bike as luggage on the same flight.

We are proud to have the above companies as our Sponsors and please remember, we could have chosen others.


Helge Pedersen

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