MCN hooked up more than 40,000 BMW riders and fans as they descended on the sleepy Bavarian market town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the annual Motorrad Days festival last weekend.
Motorrad Days is an annual celebration of all things Bayerische Motoren Werke; the event, held annually for the last 18 years, is basically a motorcycling-oriented party-in-the-park, done with a distinctly German twist.
Nestling at the foot of Germany’s tallest mountain close to the Austrian border, the picture postcard ski resort is usually resplendent in mid-summer plumage of green pastures and ranks of pine trees.
Plenty to do at Garmisch
But for one weekend, the venue is over-run by petrol-powered displays of custom, classic and modified bikes, food stalls, test rides, a wall of death, stunt shows, live music, parades and, of course, plenty of well-stocked beer tents ready to quench thousands of bikers’ thirsts late into the night.
There’s so much going on in such a small space it’s hard to know where to start looking, and over a weekend you’ll still be stumbling across extraordinary bikes – and that’s just in the bike park.
Veronika Holzer, Project Manager for BMW Motorrad Days, has organised the last two years’ events: “I work on Motorrad Days all year, but it takes five weeks to prepare the site – put up all the tents and structures – and then two weeks to take it all down and clean up. It seems really crazy for only three days!” she laughs.
“But there’s so much to experience here.”
A BMW event for all people
Although Motorrad Days is open to riders of all machinery, BMW’s increasingly broad range of models – everything from tourers to adventure bikes, scooters to commuters, nakeds to classic retros – means the party at Garmisch is also more than just about touring or adventure riding; it now attracts all kinds of riders with all kinds of tastes, from all regions of Europe.
That’s why you can find a stand offering a hair-cut and beard-wax to a gentleman from Eastern Russia sitting happily opposite another showcasing high performance sportsbike parts for guys based in Madrid. All under the blue and white BMW roundel.
“We have over 80 exhibitors,” continues Veronika. “And it’s a really broad variety from typical motorcycle accessories to international customisers. It’s also important for us to look after families and friends who maybe aren’t BMW customers.”
One for all the senses: Bike noise, food galore...
As an experience, Garmisch is an assault on all the senses, from the noise of bike engines (Boxer twin rumbling mingles with high-pitched inline fours) to the sizzling whiff of cooking burgers and bratwurst.
Centre stage is taken by the live action arena, which doesn’t just feature BMW stunt rider Mattie Griffin showcasing his skills, but also adds a Freestyle motocross show.
“We put that in this year,” says Veronika. “It’s for a younger audience, because we sit down after each event and plan the next one to be even better.”
BMW UK run tours to Garmisch through their World Of BMW site, under Motorrad Tours. The package incorporates Motorrad Days as a part of the trip, but also includes meandering off-motorway routes, guided or solo, for a few days either side.
Brits at Garmisch
“I went on a BMW Motorrad Tour last year and one of the guys on it recommended Garmisch to me. We’ve had some great riding round the Alps to get out here and, I’ve really enjoyed it. Today we went to the BMW museum in Munich, and now I’m enjoying the atmosphere in the main beer tent. It’s going to be a good night!”
“I do a lot of riding in Europe and I usually go on my own. But for a change I went with a party – and the Motorrad Tour leaders are the best riders on the best roads I’ve ever been on in my life. Genuinely worth coming. Today we rode to the Eagle’s Nest for a bit of WWII history, but we enjoyed the ride a bit too much and were too late to get in. Still, amazing riding!”
“First at Motorrad Days; it’s a fortnight away for us. The way the way the trip has been organised and run is first class; everyone has the routes in their sat nav and printed out, so we can either ride in a group of on our own. And what we’ve seen of the event itself so far is great!”
“It’s my second Scrambler; last year I rode it to the Arctic Circle in Norway. But this is the ninth year I’ve come to Garmisch; I love touring in Germany, especially southern Germany, and I like the show BMW put on here; I love the atmosphere. It’s a really good fun party.”
BMW Motorrad Days life in stats
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen is just within a long day’s ride from Calais; the quickest route through France is 630 miles
- The Motorrad Days site, normally a ski resort car park and surrounding land, covers 50,000 square metres
- Over 17,000 litres of beer are drunk over the weekend
- Camping runs to over 1000 tents
- Over 80 exhibitors have stands or stalls
- There’s no entry fee – it’s completely free
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