Park -- BMW's Enduro Park
When I signed Erin and I up for training at Enduro Park a
few months ago, we really had no idea what to expect. This morning, half way through
the second day of training, I informed the instructors that I had gotten my money's worth,
and by the afternoon I would owe them money.
We arrived at the park in the small village of
Hechlingen at 8:30 on Saturday morning. The village is located about an hour north
of Munich, and is so small you have to drive to another village to find a gas station.
It is run by Munchner Freiheit GmbH, and sponsored by BMW.
We parked our bikes, and
we're immediately greeted by the friendly staff and instructors. At 9am, we were
given a brief introduction, and shown to our rental bikes. I found my name-tag on
the front of #15, a relatively new black BMW R1100GS. Erin was assigned #30, a blue
There were 21 of us, and we were divided into 2 groups:
Beginner and Intermediate. I went to join the beginner group, as all of my 10
years of riding experience has been on pavement. It was immediately recommended I
join the other group. I pleaded that this was not a time I wanted to be macho, and I
would probably fit in better with the first group. Gregor, the head instructor,
suggested I try the intermediate group and that I could change if I wasn't comfortable.
So we mounted our rides, and entered the grounds. The
facility is on an old quarry with hills surrounding it and no pavement anywhere. We
immediately began our warm-up and bike familiarization:
- Riding while standing on pegs
- Stand on pegs with left arm out
- One knee bent and on the seat
- Kneeling (both knees) on the seat
- Kneeling on seat with left hand behind back
- Riding side-saddle
- Bike Moving: Hop off, walk with it, hop back on.
- Walk around the stationary bike while keeping it balanced.
I laughed at the beginning of each of the exercises, sure
that I would drop the 600 pound bike. Actually, the exercise turned out to be
a mental one, as no one had any difficulty on the drills.
Next, the instructor laid down his GS, dragged it around in
circles, and showed us the technique for picking up a fallen machine -- this is one talent
I have perfected over the last 2 days. Interesting Note: Any damage caused to
the bikes while doing drills on the range is completely covered = you break it, they fix
Our first drill was riding a serpentine course, the object
was to lean the bike in one direction while getting your weight to the opposite side.
My first drop was when I let the bike stall and couldn't recover in time.
After each technical drill, we would go for a ride around a section of the grounds that
got progressively harder, and also progressively more fun.
We stopped every hour or so for water/soda/2 minute rest.
When we finally stopped for lunch around noon, I was exhausted. We rode the
bikes into town at a Gasthaus for a fantastic lunch of salad, followed by the main course
of Spaitzel and Schnitzel. Lunch both days and Saturday night dinner were included
in the price, beverages were extra.
We rode back to the park around 1:15 p.m., and got right
back into the
drills. At 3:30 p.m., we left the grounds and rode about 5 miles to a military tank
training facility. We rode the terrain fast, hard, and through the mud. After
1 session, our group stopped and everyone looked at me and laughed. They all told
me I entered the water/mud too fast, and I was a mess! 2 thumbs up for the Aerostich
Darien pants and Daytona boots -- the Gore-tex definitely works.
We rode back to the grounds and hosed ourselves off.
Erin's "beginner" group did every drill we did, and a lot of the same
terrain. The big difference was pace and certain trails. We finished the day,
checked into the Gasthaus ($36 for the room and including breakfast) and took long hot
Everyone met back at the restaurant for dinner at 7:30 p.m.
Earlier in the day we discussed sampling a large selection of the local brews.
That evening, I don't think anyone drank more than 2 beers. We were all tired
and knew there would be more work to do in the morning. I told the instructors that
we did more in 1 day than I could imagine doing for the entire weekend.
After dinner we were shown a video of this year's
Granada-Dakar rally, with interviews with the BMW (winner's) team. We also saw a
video on the Transdanubia rally (Munich to Budapest), which we plan to see live August
21-28, and a video of one of their enduro tours of Spain.
This morning we all turned up, laughing at how sore we all
were. We started with calisthenics and stretching. It seemed a little silly at
first, but we all felt much better afterwards.
At 10:30, we stopped for a break. I told the
instructors that they had given me my money's worth, and if I learned anymore, I'd have to
give them more money. Most of the people who took the course have been there at
least once before, and a lot of them come every year. One guy told me he rides a BMW
R1100RT, has never ridden off-road, and comes for the training every year. He claims
the knowledge and confidence helps in his touring riding.
By lunchtime, I must have dropped the bike 6 times.
(Saturday I had 4 drops the entire day.) The trails we were taking were getting
harder, and the bikes were getting heavier (or so it felt). I was becoming an expert
at picking up my beast. And each time I hit the starter, the engine purred like a
cat getting it's haunches rubbed.
After another great lunch, we were ready for the "piece
de resistance": a huge water channel, followed by a very long stretch of deep
sand. They called this "making the Schnitzel". Wow, talk about fun!
I found that going up hill was easier than going down (Erin
thought the opposite). Several times the bike corrected my mistakes. There
were a few times I stopped before steep/narrow descents, somehow I always managed to
momentarily control my fear and press on (heck, other people were doing it). I would
get through these situations unscathed, and try again. Each time my approach would
still be apprehensive and I would say to my self "Oh, shizer; Oh, shizer; Oh,
shizer", but I was able to do it.
I was able to watch Erin every so often, she was
awesome. People from her class would tell me what a great job she was doing.
After she rode the sand pit, she came to me excited as a little girl with a new toy saying
"I did it, I did the sand pit!" I think she too has gained a tremendous
amount of confidence in herself and also in what the machine can do for her.
The weekend was set up unlike anything either of us had
imagined. We were pushed and pulled both mentally and physically, and challenged in
a way that continually built confidence. If your serious about MSF, ERC, and even
speed courses, I couldn't recommend this strongly enough. If you ride a GS . . .
The bikes are brought to a local BMW dealer every Monday
morning for repair/service, so the machines are in excellent condition for the weekend.
Wouldn't it be great to own that dealership?
The biggest lesson I learned was that most of my fears were
really just in my head. Stand on the pegs, keep your weight centered, and look
forward (not down). Use the clutch, brakes, and throttle individually or
together to control the bike. If we lived in Germany, or relatively close, we would
come back every year for training. For now, we plan to return in a few years.
|2-day course (incl. 3 meals)
||605 DM (~ $320)
|BMW F650 Rental
||250 DM (~ $130)
|BMW R1100GS Rental
||315 DM (~ $165)
Although you can use your own
Moto, it is recommended to "drop" theirs.
Münchner Freiheit GmbH
80802 München, Germany