Tale of 2011-1

Reunion part 1                                                                           Christmas story 2011 - 1


Part 1 


"I know that boy, but what from or where from..." Werner was wondering

He was dead sure that he saw, maybe even met,  him before; his stature, posture, gestures when he talked.

Everything of that young rider of the American team seemed familiar to him.

He was sure that he knew him, but he just could not determine how and where.

After the ISDT (International Six Days Trial) of September 1969 in Garmisch Partenkirchen, host country (west) Germany had invited the other participants for a three day contest from the 21-st  up until the 23-rd of December that year.

Nothing official, just a 3 day 'enduro' as a training or preparation for the ISDT of 1970 in Spain.   

With the extra challenge of the winter conditions in the Schnee-Eifel in Germany during the Christmas season.

Most participating countries of that year’s ISDT had registered;

Germany itself of course, as well as the winner of the "Trophy" in Garmisch, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the 'host' for 1970, Spain.

Plus several other European countries and the USA.   

Werner Mayer came to the Eifel in Germany as an official of the GDR ISDT-team.

It was in the  American encampment where Werner saw the young man.

Doubts just would not leave him alone ...


James Carpenter, Jim to friends, had been working and organizing '48 hours a day', in order to accommodate the American team during the Christmas season in Germany.

As an American living in Germany, no one was in a better position to arrange this than Jim.   

He could speak the language, and as the owner of a motorbike shop, he had his 'contacts' in Germany, especially in the motocross and trial world.

Besides, his son Vern was going to take part, for the first time, in the US-team at this international motor-sporting event.

Apart from his tasks as a 'quartermaster', JIm had also organized a celebration on Christmas eve. 

Most European teams would get home in time for Christmas after the contest, but for the Americans that would be impossible of course.


It was Tuesday the 23-rd; the final day of the race and it had been 2 days of battle, tinkering, suffering, freezing, helping, trumping...

In the morning you could feel the tension in the air at the start site.

Although it was 'only' a sporting, not official race, all riders were very  keen for the final day.

Except... The GDR team was not ready yet.

Where were the riders ? "Psychological warfare" someone murmured, "I'm not going to let those chaps get to me. I'll just race my own race".

Still, there was something eerie about this situation. Something seemed not quite right.

In the distance a heavy two-stroke came alive. "An MZ 500" one of the pilots said, "they 're coming".

But the bike did not come their way, it moved at high speed in the opposite direction.

For a second there only was the disappearing squeal of the 2-stroke, but then shouting and yelling was heard from the GDR encampment.

A second 2-stroke was started. It went screaming after the 500. 'That's a "250", someone said. 

Then, in an 'explosion' of noise more engines started.

The sputtering 3-cylinder 2-strokes of their cars; Trabants, Wartburg- and Barkas-vans could be heard as they diverged in all directions.

One of the Barkas vans came racing up, loaded with riders.

The Driver jumped out and shouted to the officials: "we need our race-bikes". 

"Cannot be done," one of the officials said, "not before the start of the race or else you'll be disqualified". 

"Scheißegal", the driver yelled excitedly and started to command the pilots to the 'Parc Fermé'.   

The gate was opened and in no time the GDR pilots had disappeared on their MZ-  and Simson-bikes.

The driver jumped back into the Barkas and howled off.

Leaving everyone stunned, nobody spoke a word...

Then a shot rang in the distance. And after a few seconds another 2 could be heard. Then silence...

"What the hell... ?" come from an American mouth, followed by a shocked "blimey" from a Brit.

I'll bet you my Maico that one of them has legged it to the West, a German pilot said, "I need my bike, we've got to search for that fellow. Come on, who's with me ?" .

"Hey Günther", Jim called out in shock, "you're not planning on handing over that guy to the GDR lot, are you? ".

Günther look offended, "hand him over? Are you out of your mind , Jim? 

We need to help that guy, hide him, keep him safe from the claws of those monsters.

If we're not too late".  "It's not too late", someone said, "I still can hear the 500".

"I'd very much like to help", some Brit said "but I really don't know my way around here".

"Okay", Jens, another German, called out. "If more of you want to help find him, then let's make pairs of two's or three's .  Foreign riders can join up with a German.

The Germans deliberated a while, who would go which way. Here and there riders from different countries started  their bikes and joined up with a German colleague.

The many 'couples' took off one by one to 'rake' the Eifel.

The officials, team-managers, technicians, and some left behind riders from different countries realized that this sporty event had just been flushed down the drain.

The game was clearly over...   

Jim's boy Vern took off searching with an American mate of his.

He knew the area quite well, they lived not far away from here.

Jim himself returned with some riders to their 'base camp'.

Like the teams of most countries, they had found domicile in a kind of holyday parks with bungalows.


The morning of the last day of the event, Werner decided to go for it.

In preparation he had his padded wax-suit, gloves, crash helmet and goggles ready at a secret place.

Before he rest had finished their breakfast he left the dining room and went to the toilets.

Nobody to be seen; he grabbed his gear and sneaked out from the back of the building.

There were two machines in a kind of army tent at the edge of their encampment, a 500 and a 250.

They were experimental prototypes, not really to be used in the race. 

Werner had planned to take the 500 and sabotage the 250.

Everyone was preparing themselves for the final day of the race, so he still had time.

He put on his suit, took a jerry can and poured the contents in the tank of the 500.

He then turned around to 'fix' the 250 and got the scare of his life; next to the bike stood a man in an immaculate coverall.

It was Flack, an agent from GDR's secret service, the Stasi, disguised as a mechanic for the outside world.

It was his task to keep a close watch at the officials and riders, as Werner knew.

He stood there, feet a bit apart, arms crossed, grinning at Werner. "Did sir have plans ?" he asked sarcastically.

In a nanosecond Werner saw his plan blow up totally.

But before the nanosecond was over, he decided "never !" and swung in despair the empty jerry can at Flack.

He hit him to the side of his ugly head.

Accompanied by a 'hollow boi-i-ing...',  Flack slowly fell to the 250, which tipped over, and landed with it on the floor, and stayed there, groggy. 

"Must get out fast",  Werner thought. He put on his helmet, goggles and gloves.

Contact on, petcock open, choke on... "Please, in one go... please !" Werner prayed.

He heard people outside coming his way now, wondering what these unusual noises could mean.

The first man opened the patch that was used for a door.

At that moment Werner kicked the starter and with an ear-splitting noise, the 2-stroke came alive. 

The men at the 'door' stopped in surprise, just long enough for Werner to mount and launch the bike from the tent.

Outside he chose the nearest forest path and disappeared out of sight... fast....

Flack recovered more or less and got up  "stop him" he yelled, "he'll escape... after him".

The 250 was hastily picked up.

Someone poured petrol from a jerry can into the tank - spilling half of it - and Flack started the engine.

"Notify Breitheim", he shouted at the men and pursued Werner, without suit, helmet or gloves.

"He won't get far without winter gear, in this cold", one of the men said with a little malicious pleasure in his voice.   

Another 'clown' in a immaculate coverall came running, followed by some more men. 

"What's happening", he asked, out of breath. "Mayer has done a runner on the experimental 500, herr Breitheim" someone said. "and herr Flack went after him on the 250". 

Breitheim swore: "Scheiße, he's running off to the West" and he started giving orders.

All men acted immediately and in no time all cars, vans and pick-ups dispersed in all directions.

He then directed a group of men to a Barkas minibus, took the wheel and took off to the starting place, while talking to himself "we need to pursue him on the race-bikes".

 

Later in the afternoon the German pilots and their foreign colleagues came back one by one.

Neither of them found the slightest trace of the fugitive, he seemed to have gone up in smoke.

But because many of them ran into searching East Germans on the way, they assumed that he must still be at large.

For most foreign riders it was about time to get ready for the journey home and they started to leave for their respective encampments.

The organisation requested the German riders to stop searching.

If a GDR citizen ran off and reported to the (west)German authorities, it was 1 thing.

But if individual Germans would interfere with internal GDR matters, it could lead to serious diplomatic issues.

And so the spontaneous well-intentioned 'rescue' bled to death.

Jim's son and his mate came back later in the afternoon. He had heard from a German that it did not concern a rider or a mechanic, but an official; an older man apparently. That same German also thought that he knew where about the man could be hiding, but he was not allowed to search anymore.

"Politics.... pffff..." the frustated rider said.

"I do hope that he'll make it", Vern said, "it'l be dark in a while.

Oh, by the way dad, can I have the car tonight ?

We are thinking of going out a bit in town with a few mates. You don't need it ?".

"Hmmm.", Jim reacted quite absent minded. For some funny, mystical reason, Vern's remark just would not leave him alone...   

 

After the joint diner in the dining room Jim retreated in his cabin.

The thing that his son told him kept on 'hanging' on his mind.

He knew the area very well and he just remembered that there must be a hunters shed or cabin of sorts over there.

A friend of his, a bird-watcher, had taken him there sometimes to watch birds.

And now he got this unexplainable urge to check it out.

For a while he put the thought aside; "none of my business" he thought, but... he could find no rest, he simply had to go.

Almost automatically he grabbed some food; cheese, sausage, a few apples and 2 bottles of beer, and put them in his shoulder bag.

As well as the large torch and extra batteries. Since Vern took the car he decided to go by bike.

He put on his padded wax-suit and started his 'desert sled' as his Triumph TR6 Trophy was nicknamed.

For the biggest part he could take the normal road, but the last few kilometres are a dirt road.

He then still had to walk about 1,5 kilometre to the shed. If he could still find the path, that is.

About 200 metres after he turned on the dirt road, he saw a Barkas minibus and a Barkas pick-up in a little sand-path on the right. 

In the light of some spotlights he could see a group of men recover a motorbike that apparently crashed in a ditch. 

He stopped for a while and heard snatches of a conversation: "tomorrow … search the area... too dark now..."

As  he continued he thought: "so they don't have him yet". A few kilometres on he parked the bike.

He did not continue all the way to the footpath, so as not to give away the path to the shed.

It's very dark. For a moment he considered using his flashlight, but he set the thought aside and let his eyes get used to the dark.

It may be cloudy, but the earth was covered in snow, so it didn’t take long for him to see reasonably well. 

He estimated that he would get at a crossing in about a kilometre where he hoped to find the footpath to the shed.

As he set off for the crossing, it started to snow a little.

When he arrived at the shed, Jim found no signs of life, but then, possible footprints would have snowed under, he gathered.

He tried to open the door, but it appeared to be barred from the inside.

He lit the inside with his torch through a window. Nothing.

He did not see how inside the shed, Werner cowered and pushed himself even tighter to the wall under the window Jim was looking through.

Jim then went to a window in the opposite wall.

Werner tried to move under that window, but his movement could be heard clearly.

Jim switched off the torch and whispered half laud in German: "Don't worry. I'm not from the GDR. I live here, I want to help you. Could you open the door ?".

Werner hesitated for a while, thinking: "What a funny accent" and concluding that it won't be an 'east German' talking surely. 

So he shuffled to the door and unlocked it. Jim stepped into the shed.

He switched on the flashlight and pointed it at the sealing, so as not to shine in the man's eyes.

The men can clearly saw each other. "Good eveni..." Jim stopped halfway... silence...

Both men gasped for breath, both their jaws dropped. 2 pair of eyes stared in total disbelief...

Than they whispered almost simultaneously the other man's name; "Jim ?... "Werner ?" 

They were completely confused. For seconds they stood there motionless. then both of them came alive.

In silence they shook hands. Lumps in their throats, tears in their eyes. Just like 25 years ago in the Ardennes.

A brief moment of embarrassment, but then they embraced, pat each other on the shoulders... 

Impossible or not, this reunion made them both very happy.

Jim closed the door and the men sat down on a bench along the wall.

He put his torch upright in a corner thus lighting the shed, and said: "So it was you taking off. 

Man, you won't believe the commotion you caused. East and West were trying to find you.

For very different reasons I can assure you...

But how are you? You crashed the bike didn't you ?  Are you hurt ?".

"Ach, well just a little bit", Werner said, "Jim, old boy, I'm so happy to see you again !". 

"The feeling is mutual Werner. Absolutely mutual", Jim replied, "but ahm... are you hungry, thirsty ?

I brought some stuff with me, Cheese, sausage, apples, beer".

Werner had not had anything to eat or drink since breakfast that morning and happily accepted the food. While eating he gave a brief account of the events of that morning and concludes:   

"So I see this sand road quite late, and going too fast for the bend I landed in the ditch.

My shoulder does not feel well, and I fear that I've sprained my ankle.

When I saw that the bike's front fork was dislocated, I knew I had to walk on.

I had no Idea where I was, and I have wandered around for hours.

Stopping many times on the way to cool down my ankle with snow.

And then I came to this cabin and I decided to stay the night in here hoping to be able to report to the West German authorities somewhere tomorrow.

If I could find my way back to civilization before Breitheim and Flack - by the way not at all MZ-factory personnel but Stasi agents - would find me, that is.   

And then you knocked on the door...". Goodness, can you believe; it was you who knocked...".



To be continued... in 'Reunion part 2'.