They bloom from June to August. I was late in Provence this year, visiting the southeast area of France, just north of the French Riviera, the last weekend of August, just missing the beautiful violet fields. I stayed the night at the Hotel Le Panoramic, at the end of the Gorges du Verdon, one of the most scenic locations in Europe.
In the late afternoon I was sitting on the patio, enjoying the view and having a glass of local rose wine when another rider parked his motorcycle just down from mine, took off his helmet and asked, “you made it from Vaud in one day?”
“Yes”, I said, “and I am riding back tomorrow. I like things moving.”
He laughed and went to the bar to get his own drink.
And I probably learned this attitude from an old song that goes like this: ‘buy me a drink, sing me a song, take me as I am because I can’t stay long.’
Even this late in the year, the fields smell nicely as you ride trough them for miles and miles. It’s an all-lavender theme as you ride from the mountains into the south plains of France. The small, historic villages and towns are just a delight to see.
But one more thing, if you leave the hotel early on a Sunday morning, like I did, it’s a special kind of silence in the mountains, just me and the canyon, 700m deep. Small chunks of rock were lying on the curvy road, like they fell down during the night and needed some effort to avoid.
About halfway through the gorge I saw a small place to park and take pictures. There was a van there and two young people were getting their gear ready to climb the rocks.
I said, “Bonjour,” with my best French accent. The girl looked at me with a smile and said, “hi bro.” Nobody has ever greeted me this way, but it was nice to hear.
Later that day riding through the Alps towards Grenoble on a curvy two-way road, my motorcycle started flashing a warning light, that I am loosing pressure in my front tire. “Great,” I thought “middle of nowhere on a Sunday afternoon.” So I stopped, gave it some time, kicked the tires a few times, started again and the issue disappeared.
BMWs are pretty reliable, sensor glitches and all that, and the bikes actually saved the company from bankruptcy more then once, so they do something right. The machines are good to the core, and I am here to testify.
So this got me thinking about the BMW business, specifically that BMW is actually is the one company to take private, not Tesla. All it would take is maybe selling some non-core assets, suspend dividends payments for a bit and find some investors from the Middle East, since the Quandt family controls it anyway. In a striking contrast to Tesla, BMW is awash in cash. They also know how to make money on volume cars, as do the Detroit boys. It took them at least 50 years to master it and they are not incompetent. Worldwide supply chain with just in time delivery and assembly not in a tent in Fremont, California, but in controlled environment are not easy to match.
But I seriously doubt the Quandts will go for it, even though it would be fun to watch.
So, back to riding hard and keeping it real - I have this friend in Ontario, in the city of St. Catherine’s, opposite side of the lake from Toronto. We come from the same little town in Poland originally, but we only met in Canada. And he tells me to “watch out Tom, I had a friend like you, he loved bikes, even parked his Harley in the living room. Then a bunch of teenagers t-boned him and he is gone now.”
Sure, things happen, but you need to live it up, no? “Buy me a drink, sing me a song…”
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler