Chris' 1994  R100GS/PD ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650

Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

June 27, 1999 -- Exhausted, achy, and feeling pretty damn good

Funduro 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.

The fleetWe 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 BMW F650.

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 it free. 

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 intoLike a pig in mud 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 showers.

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!

Winfred demonstrates while keeping dry

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.

Really -- it's steeper than it looks!!!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.

- Chris      


PRICING - 1999

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.


For More Information:

Münchner Freiheit GmbH
Felitzschstr. #1
80802 München, Germany
Phone:  +49-89-39-57-68
Fax:     +49-89-34-48-32


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