Posted by Scott Nelson

While on business travel in Germany recently, I managed to meet up with the International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians via a stateside member of the Rotary Club of Motorcycling Rotarians (an eClub). This ride was organized by Dr. Dirk Jensinghaus, our international IFMR president, so I felt particularly fortunate (and welcomed!) The group was mostly French riders with a few Germans. My limited high-school German and college French is pretty rusty but we did just fine with some translation help by Dirk and Pascal in the group. 

The ride down from Darmstadt on my rented BMW F800GT took a couple hours in the rain. About 30km away from my hotel, my 10 year old Daytona boots informed me they were no longer waterproof. Fortunately my Aerostich and triple-digit raingloves kept the rest of me dry enough. My iPhone on its RAM handlebar mount talked GPS to me through my Sena 10c Pro and worked well enough except for when a raindrop hit the screen directly and acted like a capacitive touch. This required me to tap it once to see my map again, and stop once to navigate back to my map display. More on this later.


Etape 2 : Sarreguemines – La Petite Pierre : (67 km, 1:30 St.) 9:30 – 11h00

Our second stage of riding included winding rural roads between farming towns and through forests. We did stop at one point for Pascal to point out a crystal factory. This region is famous for its crystal.

Kleine Pause in La-Petite-Pierre (11:00 – 11:30)

Based on when I set out from Darmstadt that morning, I would have loved to see a coffee stop earlier- so when we finally arrived at Brasserie Tivoli for libations including coffee and hot cocoa, I was very happy to warm up a little. It was also a great opportunity to get better acquainted with my clubmates and pass around the book I’d brought with as a gift for my 19-yr old. It’s a copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, now signed by motorcyclists from all over the world. Though it’s materially modest, I think it’s a pretty good birthday gift for a 19-yr old just starting an adult life. Coincidentally, the author Robert Pirsig had just passed away a week prior, at the grand old age of 88 yrs. He was a fellow Minnesotan and Golden Gopher like me, and of course a motorcyclist. Godspeed, Dr. Pirsig.

Etape 3 : La Petite-Pierre – Le Donon (72 km, 1:30 St) : 11h30 – 13h00

The highlight I remember of this stage is passing through Graufthal and seeing the houses cut directly into the living stone of the cliffs. We also rode to the top of Rocher du Dabo, a castle on a hill that provided an excellent view of fog and rain. Visibility was limited but it was still a cool place to see.

Etape 4 : Repas / Mittagessen

The lunch stop was fabulous, and a hot meal on a cold wet day was most welcome. Our famous chef Cyril Strub happens to be a fellow motorcyclist. He and his wife operate “Black Pudding & Co” together. They met in her homeland Scotland, and moved together to France where we now found them at Le Kiboki. I’ve been told that Rotary motorcycling events are judged in part by the quality of the food. This large French meal certainly met the high standard with wine, several grilled meats, fresh salad, breads, dessert and of course espresso.

Etape 5 : Retour au choix, Rückfahrt je nach Wunsch ab 15 :00 oder 16 :00

After lunch, a few of our party split off to more direct ways home, while I headed back toward Saarbrucken with my German hosts. I sat out the rain and received some dry socks from Dirk, then headed back toward Darmstadt after it became apparent the rain wasn’t letting up. During our final stop I’d noticed one of four the rubber feet on my RAM X-Grip had departed the bike somewhere. I thought it would be okay- and put my phone in a plastic bag so the raindrops wouldn’t disturb the GPS. Unfortunately, while 3 out of 4 ain’t bad, it ain’t good either when it’s rubber feet on the RAM X-Grip. My iPhone left the bike at about 130kph on the autobahn, 40km outside Saarbrucken. I quickly decided that stopping for a black iPhone on the autobahn at night in the rain was a dumber idea than continuing without it. Fortunately I remembered the rest of the way back to my hotel in Darmstadt, and lived to figure out how to deal without a phone while traveling. That part I don’t recommend. Thanks Rotary! It was a memorable ride.