3 August 2011

Apart from building excellent bikes, BMW have an extensive dealer network through Europe. Some will claim that you pay a lot for the badge but it is moments like this when you really appreciate the investment in a new BMW.

My GPS is a Garmin but comes badged as a BMW Navigator IV. Main difference is the price – but today the BMW dealer locator only available on the Nav IV version was all the justifcation of the extra cost I needed.

So my tyre is worn and needs to be replaced. It is a simple matter of pressing a few buttons on the GPS and I am given details of all nearby authorised BMW dealers. Distances range from 30 miles to 60 miles. I pick the closest and cross my fingers the tyre will last the distance.

The GPS directs me there – but typical of this day I must have selected the “via roadworks” option. What should have been an easy ride turns out to be a series of stop and go signals where roads are reduced to a singe lane.

But getting closer now – can see the chequered flag on the GPS but as I arrived at the destination there is no sign of the BMW dealer. Luckily a few signs with the BMW logo direct me to what must be their new premises – about half a mile away.

I made it but will they have or even be able to source a new set of tyres?

The staff here are great – would I like a coffee, cold water, here is the wifi password etc. Dominik is the Service Manager and he informs me they have not had to replace this size of tyre before so they do not carry any. He get’s his staff to start ringing around to see what they can come up with.

Some time later Dominik advises they have sourced some Michelin’s of the right size – they will be here in 2 days time. So I have an unexpected stay in Bielsko-Biala for at least 2 nights.

Dominik points me in the right direction for the Centrum (it is only 3 mins up the road) and tells me the tyre will be ok but I should take it very easy. Come back on Friday around 1100 and they will fit them.

I head off figuring there will be a good selection of hotels in the centre of town.

About 90 minutes later and after several failed attempts to locate accommodation using the GPS, I finally pull into the President Hotel.

President Hotel Bielsko-Biala

What a find!

I had passed this about 5 times already in search of something more modest but by now I just wanted to get out of my kit (it is the hottest day of the trip so far) and explore what looks to be an interesting city.

Checked in and showered I head off to the old part of town. It was a perfect afternoon – still quite warm but nice to be walking around in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

This seems to be the way with travelling. One of those average days turns into something special. I would never have come to this town if not for the need to replace my tyres. But it is delightful. The hotel is excellent, right in the middle of town and not much more than I wanted to pay anyway. Close enough to the Auschwitz Museum that I can get there on the bike tomorrow, my two nights here are sure to be most pleasant.

And they were.

The President Bielsko-Biala

My room for two nights at The President

Here are some of my favourite images of Bielsko-Biala.

Total miles today 154 (248km), cumulative 1,490 (2,398km).

Update: I really got lucky on this day of my Turkey motorcycle tour. It was the sort of luck you need but can’t rely on getting.  The real lucky breaks were:

  1. I didn’t drop my bike when making the tight right hander to refuel.
  2. I noticed my worn rear tyre just in time.
  3. I found a nearby BMW Motorrad dealer who sourced replacement tyres.
  4. I stumbled across a delightful city in Bielsko-Biala that I hadn’t intended to even pass through en-route to Krakow
  5. I found a great hotel in The President.

Hope it stays with me for the rest of the trip. Fingers crossed.