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Larry & Sally at a final dinner.
Larry & Sally, we are so pleased to have you as our first alumni interview!
Q: You are joining us on two tours this 2015 season. These will be your 17th and 18th tours with Beach's. What makes you keep coming back?
A: The unique magic of the Alps, sitting on the top of a pass, finding a big rock, and having lunch with the mural of the mountains in the background. It's like having a spiritual experience. Making new friends and having more goulash soup (all of that good food!).
Q: I'm sure things have changed a lot since you started touring with us in 1990, what are the 3 best and the 3 worst changes you've seen over the years?
A: Best: Providing GPS units. Taking pictures for the group. Having Rob & Gretchen on tour with us!!!! Worst: We still miss going to the Pension and having Grandma cooking for us. We miss some of the "unique" places we used to stay at. I understand the change is due to the changing times. Still wish you did the three week tours.
Q: Sally, what do you enjoy most about touring:
A: The picturesque countryside and all of the little roads that we ride on, the little villages we go through where we get to see the locals, and Oh those beautiful flowers.
Q: Do you have any advice for the first time (on a tour) passenger?
A: Don't over pack and have good riding gear and rainsuits for warmth to go over those mountain passes and if it rains.
Q: Larry, how about advice for the first time (on a tour) rider?
A: Relax, you may be in a new country for the first time and things will be different, go with the flow, the reward is some of the most amazing riding and scenery you will ever experience. Be courteous and have a smile and people are receptive all over the world.
Thanks again, you two! See you in May.
Larry & Sally on Susten pass.
The sweeping turns in Italy.
Q: Jack, you have been on 12 tours with Beach's! You also volunteer to represent us each year at the BMW MOA rally. You must really believe in us. What was the deciding factor in choosing Beach's over anyone else?
A: In 1975 I met a gentleman and his wife who had been on tours with Bob and Elizabeth Beach. He found out that I was interested in motorcycles so he shared his collection with me which consisted of two BMW motorcycles dating back to 1972, which I believe was Beach's first tour year.
He said that he was going to get me on the mailing list for Beach's Motorcycle Adventures and as a result I started receiving the brochures and tour schedule. Not only did I receive these very special publications but I also received an annual call from Elizabeth Beach encouraging me. At the time all the encouragement in the world could not pay the expenses of a family of girls and their educations. So Elizabeth continued her annual telephone visits with me over the next 24 years and I finally was in the position to take my first tour in 1999.
For the next ten years I took at least one tour a year. Riding and visiting some of the most beautiful places on earth is only surpassed by the experience with the Beach Family and the many friends I have made on these tours. While I have had an exciting life, and one which most cannot imagine, the Beach experience has been one of the highlights so far. I hope to be on tours as often as possible for the next 25 or 30 years.
Q: Which is your favorite tour? And why?
A: Difficult question as I have been on all of the ones that truly interest me. The Alps tours are wonderful and the riding challenging, New Zealand will always hold a special place in my heart but the one I loved the most was Italy. Tuscany is so beautiful, the food wonderful, the history intriguing and the riding just right. Where else could you ever have such a well rounded tour with passes, beaches, and sweeping curves, not to mention my favorite town; Florence.
Q: What do you enjoy most about touring?
A: Touring with Beach's is the way to go. You have the best of everything; great hotels and food, many different routes daily to choose from, the freedom to ride where, how, and with whom you choose. The family feeling that Gretchen and Rob provide, and of course the other equally wonderful tour members, is a gathering of dear friends, many of which come back year after year forming bonds of true lifetime friendships. Then there is the hassle free transportation of your luggage from hotel to hotel, and, of course, riding the most wonderful motorcycle known to man is the icing on the cake.
Q: Do you have any advice for the first time tourer?
A: Do this thing as early in life as possible so you have time to plan and do the next ten or fifteen. You will not be disappointed. Despite what they tell you, you probably will not need to take a blazer with you. I have and it has never left the bag in 12 tours.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?
A: The Beach family will provide you with a motorcycle adventure that you will hold in your heart for the rest of you life. Do not miss this rare life experience.
Thank you for your time Jack. You are truly part of our family.
Jack relaxing on a ferry to Corsica.
Q: Tony Sr. you have been on 14 Beach tours and Tony Jr. you have been on 12 Beach tours. What makes you keep coming back with Beach's?
A: Personalized service. Better value for the tour than other companies; motorcycle quality, riding days, and hotels. Also the freedom to ride on your own with maps and a GPS.
Q: Tony Sr. your first tour with Beach's was the Classic Alpine Adventure in 1995. Since then you have ridden with us in every location we have offered, joining us this year in Sicily. Do you have a favorite Beach tour?
A: The Classic Alpine Adventure!
Q: Tony Jr. your first tour with Beach's was in 1996. You were only 19 years old! Now you are married with 3 children. We have enjoyed watching you grow up. Was it difficult being the youngest on tour?
A: No, it was fun! My first tour was an unforgetable experience.
Q: How has your perspective about touring changed from when you were younger?
A: Each tour I appreciate more and more being able to travel through beautiful places.
Q: Do either of you have any advice for the first time tourer:
A: Come prepared for challenging roads.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: We like that new tours are being implemented.
Thank you both and we look forward to seeing you soon in Rome!
Father & adventure travelers!
Plotting their route on the Island Adventure
Scott & Jo riding Grimsel Pass, Switzerland 2014
Q: You have been on 9 tours with Beach’s. What is it about a Beach Adventure that keeps you coming back?
A: When we were doing the research for our first European motorcycle adventure, we were struck by the honesty/transparency of Beach's listings. The descriptions of what we paid for were complete, with no surprise omissions or additions. We felt we could trust our money to a company that had a family member on each tour, as opposed to jobbing out the guide duties. And we have the best of two touring models: 1) like a bus tour, someone else has taken care of the reservations and made the arrangements, as well as hauling our baggage around; and 2) like independent travelers, we just have to get ourselves from Point A to Point B, on our own schedule according to our own whims.
Q: Your first tour with Beach's was in 1995. I'm sure things have changed a lot since then. What are the 3 best and the 3 worst changes you've seen over the years?
A: This is a two-edged sword answer. 1) (+) We now have GPS units, with Rob Routes programmed in. When the GPS behaves, that's a good thing. (-) We no longer get maps as part of the package, and have to buy our own (yes, I'm a Luddite). 2) (+) When we started, there were only Alps tours offered. Seriously, how bad is that? (-) But now there are more choices - so many trips and updates, and not the financial wherewithal to take them all. 3) (+) We used to stay two nights in Andermat. (-) Now we only stay for one night. I love the loops around Andermat. Yes, we can take one from a free day in Interlaken, but I'd really rather stay in Andermat. The worst things that haven't changed: lardo and grappa. The best things: Gretchen and gelato.
Q: Which is your favorite tour so far, and why?
A: Oh, please. Each tour had its positives, even the one that poured rain all but two days. We've had magical groups, great sights, fabulous dinners,fun roads. It's all good.
Q: What do you enjoy most about touring by motorcycle?
A: Umm - Getting off the bike? :) Probably the Europeans' reaction to bikers - they expect to see bikes on the road, and are generally excellent and accommodating drivers.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?
A: The language barrier is not very high. I can think of only a few instances where people weren't friendly and kind to the monolingual bikers, whether by drawing us maps, pantomiming information, or hopping in their cars and leading us.
That is very true. Thank you for your time and loyalty. It is always a pleasure travelling with you two!
Scott celebrating his birthday with us on tour in 2014
John receiving the Million Miler Reward from BMW Motorrad in 2006
Q: John, you have been on 26 Beach's tours. What kept you coming back with us?
A: I had nothing but a good time. Loved the roads, loved the hotels (most of them), loved the people. I bought a 90S on the first trip, and thought: 'it's in Munich, why not leave it with Mike Krauser (around the corner from the Beach Hotel Huber) and come back with the Beach fall tour. Beach's had just two tours a year in those days. The groups met and assembled at JFK and were met in Munich by an Ober Bayern bus that took all of us to the BMW factory delivery site. Several other spring tour folk did the same.
There were 2 other tour groups doing the same thing, both based in San diego, California. One was the guy Bob and Elizabeth had first gone with and were sure they could do it better. I went to visit the guy and decided some one else would be better as well.
Several tour folk became special friends, and we met each year on a Beach Adventure, and often again in the US. A few are still alive and still friends, across the US. We often planned special add-on excursions, before or after a Beach tour.....the Isle of Man, Dalmatian Coast, I.F.M.A in Cologne, Fahrerlehrgang at Nuerbergring. We made friends with European riders and motorcycle people. The Krausers visited me in Coronado. I had long talks with his sister, Irene. Euro-BMW folk came to my San Diego BMW rally.
Q: It sounds like touring with the Beach's was a life changing event for you. Your first tour with Beach's was in 1975. How did you come to the decision to join an organized tour?
A: I had made 3 trips to the Alps by car and noted the bike activity. Tried it by myself, and found I needed help.
Q: What do you find are the biggest differences when riding overseas?
A: In some areas, motorcyclists rule the road, or dominate it anyway. Always, motorcyclists are welcome at hotels and restaurants. In America, roads go by the mountain peaks. In the Alps, roads weave between each peak.
Q: Do you have any advice for the first time tourer?
A: Do it. Make friends with other riders. It may not be "the trip of a life-time" because you'll be back.
Q: What are you up to now, are you still riding?
A: I just took delivery of the new R1200R, red frame. Kept the old R1200R, as it's far and away the easiest bike for me to ride. I had tried some updates of the old 1200R, but found them uninspiring. My 2007 is a wonderful bike. This new one is inspiring. The throttle is super sensitive!
Q: Anything else you'de like to add?
A: When folk list the problems about going this year, I ask, "Will it (your old mother, your dog, your income, your health) be better next year?"
Thank you for your time John. It is always a pleasure speaking with you!
John in 1980 on Beach's tour
John in 2015 on his new R1200R
By Bill Edwards, Local BMW Club Newsletter
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Reporting from New Zealand
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John and Martha Ullberg escape from the "Mid-winter, Northern Hemisphere Blues".
Traveling around New Zealand's South Island with Beach's Motorcycle Adventures
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