Wow. Just Wow.
I recently returned from the One World. One R 1200 GS Tour with BMW, and am still reeling from the experience. It was, in a nutshell, the best tour I have ever been a part of.
Now, let me qualify this a bit… For those of you that know me, you know that I basically lead Motorcycle Tours for a living. RawHyde keeps me quite busy in this regard. And, it’s usually an epic experience. It’s also a lot of work, managing a group of riders day-in and day-out. The raw logistics involved in keeping people safe, fed, rested, entertained, and generally in a state of perpetual joy are staggering. Doing this properly takes a team of experienced professionals, from the person on the phone negotiating hotels and restaurants, to the guy maneuvering the chase truck, and so on. No two tours are the same, but ALL will find a way to bite you if you don’t mind the details.
My role in this dance is a small one… And enough to leave me mentally and physically exhausted. If I’m not on tour, you can probably find me face down on a pillow-top somewhere.
So in a way, being asked to join the “One World. One R 1200 GS” US tour was an extension of my day-to-day activities. I would be showing a group of riders some good times on motorcycles, taking them to some of the best riding spots in California and beyond. Good times, as always!
So on Thursday, March 6th, 2013 a group of riders, support, and media specialists are meeting for the first time in Long Beach, California. In total, there are 8 tour participants:
- Eric (France) – ‘One World. One R 1200 GS’ Tour Facilitator
- Stéphane (France) - Winner of the ‘One World. One R 1200 GS’ tour contest
- Ulla (Germany) - Photographer
- Sebastian “Basti” - Logistics and support truck driver (& Ulla’s Hubby)
- Romain (France) - Videographer
- Jim (Jersey) - BMW Motorrad USA
- Tim (Germany) - BMW Motorrad Germany
- And me, Shawn (Californ-i-a) - US Tour Guide.
Upon meeting them all, something strikes me about the general attitude of the group. Normally there is a sense of reserve amongst my customers, a time of quiet assessment of one another (yes… Kind of like what dogs do, but without the sniffing of buttocks). Usually this wears off in a day or two, and friendships begin to form.
But these folks—most of which have never met—seem to bypass the first step and go straight to the “Friends” part. They are extreme in their sense of comfort toward one another, offering grandiose hugs and sharing their excitement about the days ahead. This has the makings of a great tour.
Being the US ambassador to these folks, I feel it prudent to expose them to a few of our national customs. As riders exchange names and get to know one another, I go to my bike, crack open my side case, pulling from it a leathery icon of United States Culture.
“Anyone want to play catch with a football?”
They are all over it. Soon the parking lot of Long Beach BMW is full of foreigners, trying like hell (funniest thing I ever saw) to toss a regulation sized football to one another. Clearly this is not a sport they are accustomed to… But they stay with it, tossing the pigskin back and forth, trying (and failing) to avoid the multitude of expensive cars parked nearby. Ha!
After a good 10 minutes of this, it is time to change things up. Basti appears, spinning a raggedy looking sphere on his finger.
Uh oh. Now it’s MY turn to look silly.
Basti and Roman begin knee-kicking and chest-bunting the ball to one another, lofting it to and fro with practiced precision. They kick it to me, and I land a shot with my Rallye 3 boot… Right into a Porsche.
Romain laughs. “It is ok my friend! It is just hard with those boots. We will teach you, if you will show us how to throw fooootball? Yes?”
We fiddle and play, waiting for the afternoon crowds to gather. Soon we join the Long Beach BMW tour party, handing Stéphane the official keys for his steed; A 2013, liquid-cooled BMW R 1200 GS. Tonight, the ride begins!