When I first enquired about the possibility to participate at the BMW International Tourguide Academy’s course, the reply stated that I needed the backing of BMW Motorrad, excellent English level and more than sound riding skills.
The first one was ticked as Wheels of Morocco started its motorcycle tours and motorbike rental activity and committed to BMW Motorrad for the long term. I was confident regarding my language skills and hoped my riding experience will be sufficient.
After a successful application and payment of the fee I have received access to an extensive online pre-read documentation, which was the first thing that put some doubts in my mind. The topics focused on BMW history, brand behaviour, showroom set-up, client relation and service requirements, etc. A lot of these things seemed distant to me so I spent a long time to prepare and learn from the beginning, including the history of the brand and the company. A month went by quickly and it was time to go. I landed in Munich on a Sunday morning and had to get to a small village where our first accommodation was booked. I took my room and headed for lunch before taking a nap and preparing for the week ahead = and boy was that a good idea…
Around 5.00 pm. I went down to get a coffee only to find out that there is no service in the B&B. Luckily I was not alone. Joe – one of the trainers and founder of IIA – was already there and I could finally meet him after all the communication we had via mail. I received my participant ID card and a GPS device to be used during the week. Other participants arrived one by one and we were off to an introductory dinner to the local Greek restaurant where Tom – the other trainer – joined us. We got some basic insight to what we can expect in the following days and chatted around eating and getting to know each other.
Next day breakfast was at 6.00 am. with departure at 6.15 am. German timing, so we needed to be on time. we left by cars to the BMW motorbike park where we would meet the remaining participants and pick up our bikes.
After a lengthy trip through Munich’s morning traffic jams, we finally arrived and were driven to a courtyard filled with brand new BMW motorbikes. the instructions were simple. Select a bike, note the plate number and present ourselves at the counter where we’d fill some papers and pick-up the keys to the bike we’ll ride for a week. Based on the original instructions, everyone should only bring a rollbag and the GPS received the previous evening. This device had preset tracks and waypoints for the week. Once we all picked up the packed our bikes, we split into small groups and had the first task to navigate back to the village we left in the morning, where we’ll spend the day at an on-road training and assessment and an extensive first-aid training, at the small airport near the village.
Having picked the new BMW S1000 XR, trip provided the opportunity to get to know my new bike. I was pleasantly surprised by the comfortable sitting position and amazed by the sheer power of the engine. Germany is a great place to test such a bike, especially once you hit the motorway.
It took us about 45 minutes to get to out destination and almost everyone arrived at the same time. We met Christian, our trainer for the morning and started the exercises as soon as we all removed the bags and boxed from the motorbikes. A real fun morning. Exercises included low speed control, emergency braking, fast cornering and overall motorcycle riding techniques and we got a detailed insight to the ABS Pro functionality. The weather was in our favour this first day so we slowly started to remove the layers put on for the chilly morning ride as the sun came up.
After an active morning we had lunch at the airport restaurant before meeting the emergency medical expert who introduced us to the dangers of motorcycle riding and provided a very intensive but interesting first aid training. This involved a lot of theory but also first-hand practice, quite exhausting under the sun. We were introduced to the first-aid kit requirements and learned how to deal with various accidents. We will spend much more time practising throughout the week.
Around 5.00 pm. we took the road to our next pre-set waypoint in Wemding where we would spend the next days expanding our knowledge base and ride our motorbikes. We split in the same groups and left for a great ride through the Bavarian countryside. Coming from Morocco which provide for excellent riding throughout the year, this ride was very different. The smells, the temperatures and the greenery all enhanced the wonders of Spring.
We arrived before 7.00 pm. to the small hotel and moved into the rooms for a well deserved shower before meeting for a beer and our first dinner with the whole group. The trainers provided a briefing and agenda for the week and that was the first point where it really struck me that this is going to be a difficult task.
More to follow…