A ride on Donnerstuhl

This is an event in my life I’m really proud of. Beginning 1990 I got in contact with Don Oswaldo von Breymann, a 83 old owner of the BMW motorcycle dealership in San Jose, Costa Rica.

What a astonishing personality. He was born, if I remember right, in Uruguay and went to the German colours in 1939. In 1945 he was taken Prisoner, and hold by the Americans in the famous “Rheinwiesen POW camp”. The interested reader should Google it and he will be surprised by the outcome: Another endless war hero story of the American people.

After being released, he came to Costa Rica. He settled with Dona Marina and very often traveled with his BMW R80 to the States. When he decided to go again in June 1990, I spontaneously agreed to travel with him. On the map below, each balloon represents a town or scenic, click and you will get information.My travel companion made this trip about 20 times. From his experience I benefited all my biker life. But in no way he was easy. You could not drive in front of him: I have the experience, I know the way, etc, etc. The problem was, that he never rode faster than 60 km/h. If you are a biker, than you know what it means to ride hundreds of kilometer behind him. Once in Guatemala, he lost direction, after two hours he realized it and claimed not having him informed.

But I enjoyed riding with him till Uvalde in Texas. Here we split, he wanted to go northwards to Rapid City to an event, organised by the “Owners of America”, the American BMW Club. I principally agreed, but ….. My dream was to see the South West, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, the Arches and the Grand Canyon. There was no way to convince him. So we split, Germany was crowned soccer world champion a third time (9th of July 1990), he rode North since my direction was South West.

On 10th of July, after a 900 km ride I arrived in Fort Sumner. All my Life I was fascinated by Billy the Kid’s story. I paid him my respects on his graveyard, having in mind: Knockin’ at heavens door, Bob Dylan’s famous song.

My next stop was in Taos. What a beautiful “Pueblo”. I was impressed by the Adobe architecture and all the Indian influence. Decided, after checking in at Holiday Inn ( $25/ night), visiting the Colorado River Rift, very close to Taos.

The River deeply excavated its bed below the surface. You practically can not see him.

see the black cloud on the right

Since it is very close to Taos, I left my protection cloth, leather jacket, rain coat, gloves, etc in the Hotel.

Admiring this natural miracle, I suddenly realized a big, very black, cloud. It will rain, I thought, jumped on the bike, speeding back. To late, it was not rain, it was hail. Big as chicken eggs. Stopped, put the bike on its side stand, burning my arm at the muffler, bombarded with ice, I had one of the worst moments of my entire life. Deep frozen, shaking uncontrolled I arrived at my Hotel. Only a hourly bath in the tub recovered my spirits. And I remembered Don Oswaldo: Never ride without a proper outfit. In Taos I meet two other BMW riders, informing that in Paonia a BMW meeting would take place. So my next destination was defined: Crossing the Rocky Mountains and go to Paonia, Colorado.

My way brought me to Tierra Amarillo, Chama, Durango and Silverton. After two days I was in Paonia, more than 400 BMW riders camped already in the City Park. Till now, I rode 8200 kilometres in 17 days. Why is that important? Because I was honoured with a trophy for the “longest Ride”. I met Thomas Schmidt, a young German, who just arrived from Europe. He bought a bike the day before in Denver and was eager to ride. He and some friends  invited me for a ride to the “Black Mountains”. I refused the invitation, referring to my butt, just having suffered 7000 miles. Later in the evening the camp loudspeaker announced my name, urging me to come to the camp office. Immediately I was scared, Police Officers, Patrol cars with flashing signal lights. What happened? The Sheriff informed me: Thomas had an deadly accident. He was to fast in a curve and crashed into a tree. My spirits left me. This young, promising kid, dead? I could not believe it. Even I spoke to the German Embassy in Washington, I thought it was a dream. This event influenced the rest of my trip. The adventurous touch, which possibly should give an middle aged man a rejuvenation, was gone. Another person emerged. My first encounter which death was another beacon in my life, This, of course, I realized much later.

see a map with photos

From Paonia, I started my way back to Costa Rica. The decision was made: Grand canyon, Bryce Canyon, Las Vegas, San Diego, Baja California, Mazatlan and back “Home”. On July 15th, I left Paonia. Grand Junction, Castle Valley – its scenery was used for numerous western movies, Arches National Park to Moab, was the days trip. by the way, in Paonia, Doris joined me. A young German girl, and a far better rider. We rode to, through the Monument Valley to Kanap. The next day, the “Grand Canyon” was our destination.

Bright Angels Point, Imperial Point and Cape Royal. What a precious gift God has given America. I still could not believe that I was really there. Too big the impressions have been. All my adult life I wanted to go – and now I made it. The most satisfaction I got from the fact, that my coming was different to most of the visitors: I came from Costa Rica on my bike. Not an arranged trip, no guide – I made it on my own. The only thing, which made me a little bit sad, was the fact, that my schedule does not allowed to visit an Indian Reservation. As German and an ardent “Karl May” reader in my youth, I had and have an great admiration for the American Red Indians. From cape Royal we rode to Hatch. On the way, we met a stranded biked, engine trouble in the middle of nowhere. No problem, I towed him into town.

Las Vegas was our next stop. What a difference, coming from the beauty of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah to this babylonic City. All my American prejudice confirmed in a second: over weighted, loud people, fascinated and hypnotized by the “Mammon” . The only positive remembrance I have, is the following: I decided to visit “Caesar’s Palace”. But with my bike. I rode to the main Entrance, put the Bike on its stand and gave the keys to the Bell Boy. You should have seen his face. He was completely surprised and did not know what to do. So he ask the Bell captain. The two together finally brought the Bike, under the laughter and jokes of the entering guests, to a parking lot. Inside I only watched the people. Unbelievable how many human emotions you can watch, greed, jubilance, hate. And a lot more. Anyhow, I had a great cheap diner, money in Las Vegas is made by gambling. But not by the gamblers, but the other side. Hallelujah

Next day, I was on my way to California – without Doris, she rode north. Crossing the Mojave dessert on Highway 15, I finally arrived in San Diego on the 20th of July. My stay was at “Padres trail Inn”, an old fashioned Hotel, in need of renovation. By the way, I like it so much, that I choose it 6 years later again – this with Angela and the kids, visiting the famous San Diego Zoo and Sea world. I liked the Town, a navy port, and my professional background, immediately found the interesting places: The old Town! Good beer and nice entertainment, beautiful girls. I took a day rest, preparing me for the Rest: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and finally Costa Rica.

On the 22nd of July, I left the promised land and rode in two days down Baja Mexico, a total of 1600 km. In Baja Mexico, the German built ferry boat brought me to Mazatlan. Ixtlan was me next stop. From here to Guadalajara and the lake Chapala, famous through the author Laurence Durell, who lived here for a long time. He wrote the Alexandria books, like Clea, Mountolive, for sure one of my all time favorites. But my next destination was Patzcuero. A small colonial town, nested between Mountain and a lake. Time was short, in 6 days, my vacation was over, so in a hurry I wanted to drive to Oaxaca. But it was raining, the first day, slowly I passed Morelia, Toluca, looking for a way to pass the volcano on its southern flank. It was nearly 4:00 in the afternoon, in the middle of nowhere. I remembered Don Oswaldo: Never ride after sunset. Undecided, I suddenly saw some Mexican high way patrol officers. They stopped me. Do not forget, I was already in a highly nervous state of mind. ” Papeles por favor”, I opened my left saddle bag, since travelling a long time, I stored all my papers, money, credit cards, etc. there. At once, one of so called friends in uniform put his hands in my saddle bag, touching my belongings. I literally exploded, pushed the guy violently, and shouted:” Soy diplomato, no tocan mis cosas”, closed the bag, mounted the bike and rode of. I had a duty passport, not a normal one, but not a diplomatic one either.

Driving away, I realized what I have done. Deliberately I rode very slowly, but only till the next curve. From there senor Rossi, several times world champion in the 500 cc category, would have had problems catching me. Finding the next Hotel, checking in, I found myself dismantling the handle bar in an attempt to hide the bike in my room. Getting back my calm, I said to myself: if they want to find you, they find you anyway. Next morning, at 4:30 I sat on my bike en route to Oaxaca.

Nothing happened in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. I rode from Patzcuero to Cholateca, Hon in 4 days, a total of 1800 kms, crossing 3 borders and six border stations. Fortunately I took the photo below. It remembers the Hondurans

to famous soccer war, somewhere in the seventies El Salvador invaded Honduras, reasoning the result of a soccer game. “No pasaran”, they will not pass.

The last day of my journey I rode 758 km’s passing 4 border stations. On the 31st of July, at 6:30 pm, I was home again.


travel date : 26th, June, 1990 – 31st, July, 1990

total kilometer : 19.144

days : 36

etmal : 532 km/day

weight lost : 8 kilos

longest daily run: Uvalde, TX to Fort Sumner, NM 900 kilometer

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