By bblfish on Nov 15, 2008
In the early dot.com boom era I invested a little money in E-Trade. Their stock went up 20 times. I cashed out and got a motorbike in 1999. The K1200RS pictured here, in front of my 2001 San Francisco rental house in the Sunset in San Francisco.
In 2001 I lost my job. To pay my rent I worked for European companies, enjoying the great bay area weather, reading books on psychology, meeting people, and having a good time. But my visa ran out so I had to return to Europe. I crossed all the US on the K1200 all the way through the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul and to Toronto, where I put the bike on a boat and flew off to London.
In London I ended up in some dump in the richest part of town, after hard work found a real bad job at a company in Staines (of all places) that had downsized 99% of its employees, and having found a little extra unexpected cash had employed a few more people. The manager had heart trouble but that did not stop him drinking 3 or four large Starbucks a day and smoking a pack of cigarettes. The combination of a bad job in Staines working on something that had no hope of survival was too much.
I got a contract in Holland for Philips, Eindhoven at much better pay. I thought I was going to get a Java job. Instead I found I had to do shell programming. At least there were strict working hours. So I discovered cycling. And cycled all round the beautiful country of Holland.
The way insurance laws are in Europe is like many things on this continent quite twisted. You think you could get an insurance and ride your bike anywhere. But nothing is that simple of course. The laws never took into account people that might want to travel for longer than an extended holiday out of their country. After 3 or 6 months of being out of England my insurance would be void. I was told I would need an local insurance company. This meant I would have to export my motorbike (that is, pass customs again), change license plates (mine was bblfish), and much more (getting another driver's license?). When you are contracting, how are you to know how long you are going to stay on that job? So it becomes tricky to work out when that paperwork is worth the expense.
So one day in Maastricht, late in 2003, as I was just starting on a new job, I decided to get my just expired insurance renewed. Of course in Holland all shops were closed on Saturdays and Sundays, and especially at any hour where you might not be working. As I walked back to my motorbike I saw a couple of guys eying it suspiciously. I thought I'd catch them red handed. I looked around to see where I could get some help. Turned around. They were on the motorbike, with a big iron wedge. As I rushed towards them they managed to get it started, and I was just able to throw my helmet at one of them as he drove off.
I managed to find a police officer within 1 minute. He called the station. They asked me what the color of the helmet of the thief was. I could not answer. Did that matter? It's the only blue BMW K1200RS in town I shouted! But no. They were completely useless. The thieves were clearly well organised, and it would not take long before the bike was out of the country.
I had always wondered whether the internet would be more useful than them. So here's the vin WB10554AXXZA52260 .