OK, after much stalling (an entire week’s worth actually), I’ll finally post about the bike ride I did last week in the Bavarian Alps foothills. After all this time, though, the post may be a bit underwhelming!
So as I’ve mentioned several times already, last Thursday my department at work did a “team event”, which consisted of taking the train south of town and riding in the shadows of the Alps for about 50 miles. We all met at about 8:40AM at an S-bahn (above ground train) near our work place. There were over 40 of us, so we split into two groups, the first group taking the 9:00 S5 train south of town. The outbound trains were pretty empty at this point since most people are commuting into town at that hour. So there was plenty of room for our bikes – in fact, the first and last cars on all the trains are designated as bike-cars, and they have several seat sections removed where you can lean your bikes several deep.
The first thing we saw on the train ride, which is completely unrelated to the rest of the day, but allows me to go on a small aside, was the new Infineon campus that is under construction in south Munich. As I’ve mentioned, we have over 5000 employees in Munich spread all throughout the city. For the past several years, though, Infineon has been building a new campus, code named Campeon, in the south part of town that will house all the Munich Infineon employees in a sparkling new, hi-tech park. It is scheduled that employees will start moving there this October, one department at a time, so I don’t know if my department will move before I leave in December/January. So the S5 train went right beside the park, and while there wasn’t much except a big construction zone to look at yet, I did find these cool renderings on our website of what it will eventually look like.
A couple things you may notice about the pictures. 1) The rooftops are all green. All rooftops will be covered in dirt and grass in order to grow fields and gardens, and will be accessible from the inside of each building. So employees can take a picnic or break (smoke break, more likely) on the garden covered roof whenever they want! These style roofs are also excellent at absorbing water to prevent lots of run-off at street level. 2) The complete lack of parking spaces. The area the campus is in is a designated “green zone” by Munich, so they were required to limit the amount of pavement and blacktop. So all parking is underground, under the campus. There are actually only 1800 spaces, so most of the 5000+ workers are expected to take public transportation; the bus or the S5 train.
The campus will be quite “SAS-like”, as it will include foodcourts, flourists, daycares, running trails, skate park, gym, a bank, a drug-store, full time doctors, and more. Should be a cool place to come back and visit, maybe on future delegations….?
OK, but enough of that – back to the bike ride. We took the S5 to the end of the line down to the town of Holzkirchen, about 25km south of the city. There we waited for the 2nd train to come, and I borrowed some sun-screen from some of the German’s, who were slathering it on like they were basting a turkey. It was already pretty warm, and looked to be perfect riding weather. Here is a picture of half of the bike-shelter at the train station – you can see how packed in they are, and you can be assured that nary a few of them are actually locked.
Once everyone arrived, we got on the bikes and headed right out of town at a leisurely pace. Pretty quickly we were out on 1.5 lane roads with no lines, and the leader kept us mostly on small back-roads to get from village to village. And I do mean village, not town. We went through several, and the difference between a “Bavarian village” and a country NC town is great. Every place we went was the definition of a “quaint European village nestled at the foot of the Alps”. All the villages were, again, very clean, with matching white/wood Bavarian style houses, and not a fast-food restaraunt, strip mall, gas station, or broken down car in sight. All the villages were surrounded by acres of farm land with herds of cattle, and were centered around a tall church, and they all had a blue and white painted maypole in the center of town. Here are some shots of the villages and houses, and some of our group strung out like the peleton in the Tour de France when Lance is driving at the front:
So we made frequent stops and wated for people to regroup. You probably can’t tell from the pictures, but most people were riding clunkers – street bikes, cruisers, mountain bikes. Only about 2 other people had a “race bike” like I did. And I really geeked it up too with all the race gear – lycra Perl-Izume shorts, tight-fitting Cannondale jersey, Specialized shoes with Dura-Ace pedals, REI gloves, Rudy Project glasses, Giro helmet – the works. I stuck out pretty bad, among the 70% who were wearing long pants and workshirts, and several in jeans and flip-flops. Not to mention, of the 40 people there, only 7 of us wore helmets. It didn’t seem to bother them that they were going down hills at 30mph with bad brakes, underinflated tires, and no friggin’ helmet!
Stopping every 5-10km made the ride go by pretty quickly, actually, because you never got too tired or anything. We stopped in the town of Benediktbeuren for lunch at, where else, a big biergarten. As soon as we got there, 1/4 of the guys pulled out their cigarettes, and they started ordering maÃŸ biers and sausages. I had a Radler or two, a bier-mix that is surprisingly popular there. A Radler is 1/2 and 1/2 helles bier and lemonade or sprite (there is also a Russ, which is 1/2 weisbier and 1/2 lemonade/sprite), and it’s really quite refreshing on a hot day, or in the middle of a bike ride. At first I thought it was weird that something that sounded more like an “American girly drink” was so popular here, but after I thought about it, I decided that since the Germans drink bier all the time, they have to have something light some times. So it is given that they will drink bier for two meals a day, so the Radler is a good light, refreshing bier instead of the dark or heavy ones all the time.
This biergarten was built next to an impressive church and cemetary that I tried to get some panoramic pictures of.
Anyway, I had a couple radlers and pointed to something in the pork section of the menu and ended up with half a pig leg or something (and sourkraut…. always sourkraut). After refilling our water bottles, we were back on the road, headed back north. Before lunch we were heading into the Alps, and got into some rolling foothills right before we stopped. Nothing too major, but the mountains were looming right ahead of us, tempting us to give them a try (ha, yeah right). But afterlunch we got some downhill as we headed back towards Munich and people started to clown for the cameras a bit, and I somehow managed to stay away from almost all pictures (I am the blue thing on the right in the first picture, and that’s my team leader, Mathias, waving his arms like a monkey).
We went through several more nice villages and towns, and towards the end a few of us actually got the pace going a bit and rolled into Wolfratshausen quite a while before everyone else. We had some time to get some Italian gelatto at a small stand, then by the time everyone else got to town it was 4:00 – and you know what that means? More bier, or course! So we went to another biergarten and relaxed for a while. Once again I managed to avoid all pictures, but here are some of my coworkers (that’s my local manager, Stephan, on the right of the first pic):
After hanging out there for a couple hours, we went down the street to get on the train again to go back into town. I got back to my hotel at about 8:30, so all in all, it was a pretty long 12 hour day (writing this post feels like it took just as long, too). I hope I can remember as much of the course as possible to show it to Alisha when she arrives next month. Here’s a rough map of the route, the bright green lines being the train routes, the bright blue the bike ride, and the red dots the train stops and lunch.