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Dear Friend

 

Prelude

Some years ago, my life got twisted. My wife got breast cancer, and it was a dark time for me. I was afraid to loose her, I was afraid to fail her by not being strong enough. Luckily for us, she survived, and now over 6 years later, she is “cured”.

But, back then, a lot of things happened. My wife was lucky to have friends, or at least one friend, who was her rock. She was there for her and that relationship certainly help my wife in those difficult times.

One of the things that happens in those situations is, that everyone of course asks “how is your wife?”. Noone asks about the husband. So I had to rely on my friends to be a support network for me.

Sadly, this turned out to be a clusterfuck. I remember, one friend that I was supposed to visit the weekend my wife got her diagnosis. I called him, told him, close to tears, that i can’t visit this weekend. That, seriously, was the last I ever heard of him.

My best friend, a person I had known over 30 years, since high school, did not behave much better. What I expected was someone who calls, at least on a weekly basis, to check in with me. Instead I had contact not more often than in the past, and when I inquired once, I got told “I don’t want to disturb your wife”.

I ended this relationship, in anger, in frustration, without ever telling my friend what happened, or why I hurt him like that. It took me years to understand the thing completely (as it usually does), and while I have no intention to rekindle that relationshp, it is a bit therapeutic for myself to write the following letter:

 

Dear Friend,

I know that we did not part on good terms. I made a hasty decision, and that decision to terminate our friendship of over 35 years must have hurt you.

I don’t know if you will ever read this, or if you actually care to understand why I did what I did. It does not matter. It helps me with my life to write this down, and if it happens to help you, or someone else, reading this, all the better.

When my wife got cancer, I was devastated. As probably everone is, who is confronted with news like this. I was confronted with endless possibilities in my head, and most of them were on the dark side of things.

My wife got a therapist and friends who were there for her. Of course, the world cared for her, her state of being, her state of mind. After all, she was confronted with a potential deadly sickness, and I, I was just the husband. So nobody really worried about me.

This included my friends. As said above, one in particular made a fantastic exit. But you? You, the friend I loved for so long, the one I knew for longer than anyone? You did not behave the way I needed you to behave.

Go back a level. I know I am one of those people who overdoes love, friendship and all that. I am always there, I do everything for the people I care for. When you were in the hospital and needed to get out? I drove 100km to be there and argue with the doctors and get you home. You had an infected tooth, I called for a few days every day to make sure you are ok. Your lifepartner needed to move furniture? I drive an hour to help.

I am an idiot, i know.

But I normally don’t expect this to be returned, at least not to that extend. But here I was, more afraid, more sad, more devastated than at any other time in my life. And I desperatly needed someone to be there. For me. Just for me. So that I did not feel so fucking afraid and alone anymore.

And you did not increase your level of contact. You and me have been in touch around every 6 weeks, and that’s the way it continued. I never told you: please call me more often, plese tell me you care. I never thought I needed to. You were suppoed to be my best friend. You were supposed to know.

But, you did not. You did not want to call more often, you were afraid of disturbing my wife. Disturbing her from doing what? From sitting there being afraid for her life? Yeah, who does want to be disturbed from that….

I did not understand this back then. By now I know. We, in our society, are not used to deal with death, or the potential of it. When my other friend disappeared from my life, he did so, because I believe he just was scared. He got this phone call, and then he did not know what to do. He waited, and the longer he waited, the more he was afraid that if he calls now he has to deal with the ultimate, the one thing you can not fix, the one thing you do not know how to heal.

And I believe, to some extend, this ailed you as well. I, by now, believe you cared. Of course you did, you were my friend for so long. But you did not want to change the routine, upset the balance of things, because that would be admitting that something terrible might have entered this relationship. You were scared, just as I was.

But, from my side, I did not see this, I did not want to. I needed someone to give me strenght and support, and all I got was the “same as usual”. That was not enough, that was something that made me deeply sad, frustrated and disappointed.

I needed you to be there for me. And it hurt, it hurt soo much that you were not.

So, I terminated our friendship. I wondered for years why. Why did I just go and cut you off. I realized in the last year why. I was just not strong enough. I knew back then that I should have talked to you, tell you what I need, tell you that I am sad about that you did not behave the way I expected, listened to you about your fears and your problems of dealing with the situation. You liked my wife, you must have had your own set of fears around it.

And here is the reason. I just had no strength for this. I was feeling that if I talk to you about this, that this will take more strength than I have. I needed every last bit of it to be there for my wife. I had nothing to give to you, to help you deal with this. I needed you to help me, not the other way round. There was nothing, not a single bit of strength for you.

It required less strength to throw our friendship away that it required to explain my pain to you. And there was only that option, because keeping you in my life would have prolonged the pain to feel abandomed in all this. I could just not deal with this, I could not try to fix the 2 of us, and to fix my life. There was no room, no energy, nothing left to give.

I am sorry I was that weak. That I did not have the strength to accept your failing me. You had to face something extraordanary –  the wife of a friend potentially dying. And you could not deal with it in the best way possible. But, I faced much worse, and I had to face it alone. Because you were not there for me the way I needed you to be there. I needed you to step up and be better that this.

6 years later, I understand that I was asking a lot. But my wife had friends, who had the same challenge, and they behaved as I expect friends to behave. Good for her.

I have forgiven you for letting me down. I have also realized that I am asking to much, in general, of my friends, in fact of people in general. So, I apologize for hurting you years ago. For terminating my friendship with you without telling you why. I am deeply sorry that I did it the way I did it.

I am not though, expecting our friendship to “resume”. You did let me down, you let me down when this was not an option. I would never, ever, trust you to be there when I need you.

I only want to explain why I did what I did. And, I do miss you, a lot. But I just would never be able to trust you to be there. For me.

Love

F.

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A new bike arrives

If you don’t care about why others buy what bike, stop reading now. 

For the last 3.5 years, i was riding a 2015 BMW R1200RT with much joy, a little over 10tkm per year on that one. It was the easiest bike to ride i ever have ridden, and it is probably one of the best touring motorcycles ever build. I did really long trips with that one (like Marbella -> Zurich in one go, took 22 hours) and i did not hurt too badly when i arrived home 🙂 

The RT had a lot of good points:

  • very comfortable
  • very good 2up machine
  • easy to ride
  • Boxer engine (i know that is debatable and can be on both lists :))
  • great weather protection
  • on the minus side though
  • terrible luggage system. Heavy. small, try to attach additional fuel tanks, or a tent… 
  • pretty bulky and heavy when you need to push it
  • it’s a sports tourer. You don’t do any gravel roads, because each scratch looks just wrong on it
  • in the hot summer, the weather protection is a curse

I want to do gravel again in Africa, and the RT is not the ideal machine for that, due to the luggage option, the fairing that just does not want to be scratched and the available tyre options.

So the idea of going BMW GS again, or similar. After 4 BMWs in a row, i felt it was time for a change. They ride great, but all 4 of them had significant issues (during warranty, but still, in the shop, and some of it might have been dangerous if not caught in time) – the QA is lacking imo. And, in all seriousness, in Europe, you go to any Motorcyle happening, if you ride BMW, you have to RFID tag YOUR bike to find it again among all the other bikes looking exactly like yours.

I considered KTM and Ducati, but i don’t like the KTM look personally, and the nearest Ducati dealer is rather far away. The Triumph dealer (which i bought a Thruxton R from 2 years ago and am very happy with) was just around the corner of the office. 

I always like Triumph, but the last time i rode an Explorer, the cockpit was kind of ugly, and the machine just felt too high compared to the GS. So back then (7? years ago), i went with a GS that i happily rode for a few years. 
In March i did a 3 hour testride of the newest Tiger 1200, and i liked it enough to buy one on the spot. Lucky for me, they delivered my machine before Brexit becomes a reality over here, I do hope they sort this out before i need spare parts 🙂

What i noticed so are about the machine, compared to my GS and RT:

  • all the knobs and buttons are backlighted in the dark. That’s very useful imo, there are buttons i don’t use often enough to have a muscle memory for them (at least not yet)
  • the LED adaptive light is amazing in the dark. Finally, i go into a turn and i see the road and not the house on the other side.
  • the triple engine is very different compared to the boxer. It’s quiet (as long as you don’t let the tiger roar) and very cultivated. Lucky for me i have another 2 cylinder engine if I miss the vibrations.
  • The luggage system (from Givi) is a lot better than the ZegaPro stuff from Touratech i had on my GS. Just mounting and unmounting is so simple. Same 45/37L asymmetrical side case setup, which for me is better than the Triumph (GIVI based) 37/37 symmetrical system.
  • Good display, easy menu navigation
  • very comfortable, good enough weather protection (of course, RT was better)
  • super stable on the highway, although i have not been on German super speedways yet
  • on my RT i had to select: rider/rider+1/rider+luggage as setups for the machine. On the Triumph, this is done automatically based on the weight it measures. I like it, the older BMW system was a pain to remember to do, and if you didn’t you noticed first time you had to break hard. 

On the negative side: 

  • the Tourance Next (default tire), is creating some weird noises between 35-55km/h. Not too annoying, and a known issue, which might go away once the tire is a bit more run in. 
  • The keyless system is only for the ignition. You need a key for filling gas, you need another key for the topcase/sidecase. I noticed that yesterday: i got the helmet out of the topcase, forgot the key in the topcase lock, rode home for 40km including highways to luckily discover that the key is still in the lock when i searched for it in the garage. The BMW system is keyless for everything, that is much nicer.
  • Also, you can argue that the Triumph is not really a  “dirt bike”. Of course not, but it is probably less a dirt bike than the GS, and even more so compared to the KTM. I got the Xrt version which does not even have the spoked wheels.

The non spoke wheel Xrt version is as “dirt” ready as the Xca, but yes, if you hit a rock, you probably break the wheels. I don’t plan on doing that (i do gravel, but normally i don’t cross dry river beds, especially not alone on a big bike like that), and the non Xrt is 10 pounds lighter than the Xca. Also, you can only get a red bike as an Xrt 🙂 
So far, only 6 hours of riding in, but i enjoy the bike, it has (beside emergency call) anything i would want in a bike and i am looking forward to going to Africa again next year.

Fuji XT2 filmsimulations for CaptureOne 11

I am using CaptureOne for my photo management and editing needs. One of the things I miss from Lightroom are the easy available film simulations for the XT2.

In CaptureOne you can achieve the same by using ICC profiles. Some of the great members in the community created profiles to simulate the film effects, and they are available for download at varies places on the net.

What is missing though is the adaptation of the file for the XT2. The profiles, at least the ones I found, are all created for the XT1 or the Pro, and while they are exactly the same in terms of use for the XT2, they show up for the wrong camera in the CaptureOne menu.

To fix this, you only have to change the file names to the correct set. For those who find this post, but primarily for me, in case I forgot what I did:

Here are the original instructions I used:

[FujiXForum]

[Eivind Rohne]

And then I changed the filenames, after copying them to the correct folder, and if you can like, you can download a zipped file with the .iCC files [here]

A weekend in the Swiss Alps

The weekend 14.10-15.10.2017 was a beautiful weekend over most of Europe. Christoph, a friend of mine from Berlin happened to be in Bozen, Italy for 2 weeks, and we decided beforehand that if the weather holds, we meet in Switzerland and tour a bit.

As I just came back from Spain with the R1200RT, I decided this time it should be the Thruxton R. I used a small Ortlieb bag with 2 Rockstraps as a luggage solution, and then we met around 10:30 in the morning on Saturday in Zernez.

From there, we went over the Fluelapass, the Oberalp Pass, the Furka Pass, the Grimselpass (where we turned around), over the Furka Pass again to finally arrive at the Albergo San Gotthard, on the top of the San Gotthard Pass to spend the night.

The next morning, we went down the old San Gotthard pass road, the Tremola. a primarily cobblestone road. This is a must ride if you are in the area, this road and the views are amazing.

 

 

 

 

We then went up the San Bernadino pass, which is so beautiful. It starts with a highway like race track kind of route, that is perfect fun. You exit shortly before the pass, and then a wonderful road in to the mountain starts. Boatloads of fun, especially as we had not that much traffic in our direction.

From there we took the Splugen Pass into Italy, had Pizza in Chiavenna, and then took a lovely ride over Bregaglia and the Maloja-Pass to St. Moritz and back to Zernez, where our ways parted.

900km in 2 days on a Thruxton R, and beside the highways it was as comfortable in the sunshine as an RT would have been.

All kind of pictures of the trip are in the gallery below.

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The road to Marbella

30.9.2017 Zurich to Sitges

I start later in the morning, as I love to have breakfast with my wife, and we got talking, and at the end it was 9:40 before I hit the road.

Originally I wanted to travel today to Martao, a town close west to Barcelona. That‘s a bit over 1000km, and I thought that will be enough for the day.

There are two things I realized, once again, what I love about those long motorcycle travels. Yes, it‘s purely highway, and not really that interesting to ride. But, 2 things always seem to happen when i do that. Some might never understand why I ride 2200km from Zurich to Marbella, for 2 days, instead of just taking a plane.

First, my thoughts finally have time to wonder. No phone, no email, no „can i have a second of your time“. Only me, the bike, the road. It is true: boredom is the most important ingredient to innovation, to relaxation. Only when you have nothing to do can your thoughts come alive in yourself.

So I ride, and my thoughts drift to issues long forgotten, to ideas barely remembered, to incidents not resolved. I like that. I can hold on to some of that and make it better once I am no longer riding.

The other thing is that you see the world changing around you. I started in the Zurich, passed through the rolling green hills of the Aargau, down to Geneva. I see the hills change to the harsher, brutal rock-faces of the French Alps, which in turn give way to hillsides in France. Later that green, French hillside gives way to the more brownish, dry southern French countryside. That then turns to Spain, the majestic mountains of the Ardennes, where after hours of rain, the clouds are now pierced by light, like the fingers of the creator reaching down through the dark clouds to create pockets of beaming glow at the mountain peaks. Nature can be so amazing, another thing you do not really realise when you just hop in a plane, hop out and your journey is done.

On the bike, you see the landscape change, the architecture change. You get disheartened by hours of rain, and feel jubilant when you finally see sunlight breaking the clouds. You can smell the churro‘s in the air, you can taste the whine, the olives. It‘s a journey with an experience, not just a „visit“.

At the end of the day I continue on for another 100km and end my day in Sitges. The hotel booking.com recommended to me is directly at the beach, next to a seafood restaurant that had probably the best calamaris of my life, a nice few glasses of white whine and a cognac to finish it off. A good day, and it does easily beat airline food.

 

The distinguished Gentlemen Ride, Zurich, 2017

Today was the 2017 “The distinguished Gentlemen Ride”, an annual worldwide event that tries to raise awareness for Men’s serious killers: Cancer and suicide. The event was a big success, raising more than 4Million Dollar worldwide, with 500 riders participating here in Zurich alone. This was the biggest convoi I ever have participated in, it was a bit scary, a bit loud. But, looking at the faces of the people on the sidewalks when this 10 min long caravan of Motorcycles passed them by, priceless.

Below is the route we took this year:

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Touring the passes over the national holiday

Tomorrow I finally have 2 days of time and the weather is supposed to be nice.


So I decided to combine 2 hobbies of mine: Astrophotography and touring this beautiful country.  I will ride to Grimselpass (not the straight way: Klausenpass and Sustenpass are on the way, if you are willing to waste some time) and stay the night there, to stargaze and shoot some milkyway pictures if the sky is clear enough.

 

 

 

Next day, it goes back home, riding down Grimselpass, then over Furkapass, Overalppass and Chur back home. Today I spend 4 hours on my Thruxton and took 3 other passes here in the closer area. Yes, Switzerland has its disadvantages in terms of police controls etc, but man is that country beautiful.

 

 

Sustenpass, another pass around the block

The Sustenpass is the number one rated motorcycle pass (by a popular German motorcycle magazine, (MotorradOnline) in Switzerland.

Going there again, from my new home, takes a good hour to the start of the pass. Around 10km before the pass start, I have a short pitstop, at a Gasstation/Fastfood chain, which accidentally is the same stop I made the last time before I went up the Klaussenpass.

I realised then, that I could create a very nice day tour, by first riding the Sustenpass, then making a pause and continuing over the Klaussenpass towards my home, or the other way round.

Sustenpass is all that a biker could ask for. Great road conditions, nice, sporty curves and really great views in between.

Klausenpass

The Klausenpass (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klausen_Pass) is one of the few higher altitude passes that is open already in May, and it is close by. It takes a bit over an hour with normal traffic to get to the start of the pass, but, if you are like me and have your navigation system (iPhone 7) in some pouch on top of your tank bag, it can get to too hot – it was 28 degrees today. So it shuts off, which I did not see, as it was so bright and hot, and I rode for 30 minutes in the wrong direction.

Beautiful area though.

And then it can take another 30 minutes to get through a “technical inspection” by our local friendly police officers. That totally did not happen to me, that would have been to hot standing there at a bus stop in the sun, while he was asking stuff like: “Do you have the paper work for your exhaust….hmm… is the cat still in there?”…

Anyhow, once I arrived I had a quick break at the Burger King at the last roundabout (coming from Altdorf), and then I was off for 46km of pass driving.

In an article on motorradonline they rank the 10 most beautiful pass roads here in Switzerland, and Klausenpass is on number 6. Wow. I have not seen the other 5 yet, but I can not wait.

Overall, this is a 3-4 hour tour from my home, and as most of the other higher passes are closer to the south border, this is probably one I will visit rather frequently. I can not believe I live that close to so much beauty.