BMW Motorrad Days visitors are in safe hands with “Cheesy”.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- April 3, 2010
Karl Thomas "Cheesy" on top of his trusted BMW R 1200 RT – Ready for the “Event”
As far as dream jobs go, Karl Thomas surely has one of the best. Imagine being the motorcycle police officer for Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where crime is virtually non-existent and the Alpine setting offers some of the most picturesque scenery and best riding roads imaginable. Furthermore, the town’s packed events and festival program brings in thousands of tourists from all over the world, making this well-known German destination a truly cosmopolitan place to visit.
With 35 years in the police force – 15 of which have been in picturesque Garmisch-Partenkirchen – Karl has a reputation as a friendly and involved policeman. In fact, all the townspeople and many of the regular visitors know him simply as ‘Cheesy’. This is a nickname he has had since his schooldays more than 40 years ago and one that has stuck, as hardly anyone calls him by his real name and many of them don’t even know what it is!
Cheesy has been riding motorcycles since the age of 16, when he started his two-wheeled passion with an old Hercules machine. He bought his first BMW GS in 1989, which took him across the desert several times, although he now admits that as he gets older, he’s becoming lazy and only rides when the weather is pleasant. He is a huge BMW fan of course, and most people simply know him as “Cheesy with the BMW police motorcycle”.
“The R 1200 RT is a very comfortable machine, and great for travelling long distances, but there is also enough power to really let it rip,” said the experienced motorcyclist whose green and silver/grey Authorities-specification R 1200 RT is easy to spot among the thousands of ‘standard’ BMW touring boxers at BMW Motorrad Days. “It’s also a very reliable bike and perfect for journeys for two.”
Karl making sure everything is safe and orderly for visitors to the 10th annual Motorrad Days.
In his early days in his job at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Cheesy was fortunate to find an old police motorcycle that nobody was using, and because he already had his license, he managed to persuade his boss that riding it would help improve his efficiency. Not long afterwards, BMW Motorrad event organizers were making enquiries about the possibility of holding an annual biker meeting in Garmisch, and wanted to know if the police department would be interested in supporting and policing this event. Cheesy couldn’t believe his luck, and before long he was involved with what has since become one of the best-loved motorcycle meetings in the world.
Of course, a town like Garmisch has a packed annual events program. As well as hosting numerous sporting events, such as the Alpine Ski World Championships and – if the bid is successful – hopefully the 2018 Winter Olympics, it also holds many other festivals throughout the year, of which BMW Motorrad Days is Cheesy’s favorite. For his team, this involves the coordination of the arrival and departure of thousands of motorcyclists, closing off roads in the town centre and directing the flow of traffic. The police team also accompanies the popular motorcycle parades as well as securing the routes so that they all run smoothly and offer participants a trouble-free ride.
With tens of thousands of BMW riders descending on Garmisch-Partenkirchen every July, it’s amazing to think that the first event was covered by just three policemen!
“It’s true that at the beginning of the BMW Motorrad Days era, there were just three of us in charge from the start to the finish, although even now we only have eight police on duty during the day and another eight in the evening,” says Cheesy. “All motorcyclists who visit BMW Motorrad Days are generally well behaved, as I’ve been looking after them here since 2002 and I’ve never experienced any kind of aggression.
“I am always amazed by the friendly atmosphere here. It’s great there are so many different nations that come together to make a special party, and even when there is a little alcohol involved, everything remains on a calm and relaxed level. Many people tell me that they couldn’t imagine an event like BMW Motorrad Days taking place in their home town with such a small number of policemen involved, but maybe the secret is Garmisch itself – I hope it always stays like this!”
What Cheesy likes best about BMW Motorrad Days are the friendly visitors and the unique atmosphere. And although he finds his job very satisfying, punishing people is not his “cup of tea”, so if he had the opportunity, he would travel more himself, as his current role involves a lot of time welcoming tourists from all over the world – some of whom have travelled a long way to get to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
For those making the journey to BMW Motorrad Days in 2010, Cheesy’s best advice is to arrive a bit earlier – or stay a little longer afterwards – to take advantage of the many things on offer in the region, such as hiking in the Alps, swimming in beautiful lakes, and exploring some of the great local roads that take you across to Italy and Austria. One of the most enjoyable pastimes though, is just relaxing and enjoying the fantastic scenery and natural wonders of the region, so a cable car ride up the Zugspitze (Germany’s highest mountain) should be top of everybody’s list.
But as any motorcyclist will tell you, the journey is as important as the destination, so those arriving on two wheels should follow Cheesy’s advice and stay off the Autobahns when there are so many smaller, more picturesque routes to explore.
“For those coming from the Munich area, I would suggest a route that passes the Starnberger See or the Walchensee. The way through the Walchensee leads you to the Kesselberg, but make sure you stick to the posted speed limits and watch out for the speed traps! Those coming from the south should take the route through Mittenwald, where there are many nice roads and fantastic scenery. We want our visitors to BMW Motorrad Days to arrive and leave safely, so please be careful on any of the mountain routes if it rains, as the roads become very slippery. Safe journey and we’ll see you all in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.”
This is the second in a series of themed articles that will be released over the next three months, revealing more details of the 10 years of “BMW Motorrad Days” - 30 years of “GS”
event program, partners, special guests, various behind-the-scenes stories of interest, and much more.