The first problem we had was that the bikes for Cesar Grajals and Thomas Steinbacher ended up getting over charged by FedEx. Then they ended up being held by German customs. As well as all the clothing that was packed for the riders, marketing articles and shirts also ended up in impound in Germany. A great start to our Euro trip. No bikes, it’s raining, its cold and a tax bill with a note saying to meet us at customs in Pirmasens Germany .
When Tom landed He got an email that Cesar had his entry into the country denied by Lufthansa, after American Express told us all is set with his passport and green card for reentry into USA. Cesar ended up going to the Austria consulate in Denver, Colorado and it was closed. This delayed Cesar a whole day. And with Tom was fighting with German customs, they missed the start in Austria for World Cup. And if you miss the prologue start you cannot qualify for the overall race win. So now sitting in Germany and it’s about 50 degrees and it’s raining, and raining, and raining.
Not a problem they figured. Let’s just get out of here. All they need to do is to change the flight tickets back but Lufthansa said because of law (blah blah) Tom cannot return for minimum of 7 days.
So they called American Express. And because Tom is a good client of 16 years they will help but because all the tickets and fine print it will cost almost more money than the original 2 way ticket. So no matter how they do it or try it doesn't work. So far, not the most perfect trip. The day of Tom’s flight to Germany he booked tickets for Cesar and himself to Columbia on August 27th for a business meeting on the 28th. While Tom was waiting for the email confirmation from Amex he was on the phone with Amex supervisors were informing Tom of the flight and of course that was also booked wrong (now at this point, just imagine Tom’s heart rate with a long distance phone bill)
While this was going on Tom also was trying to get an appointment with the German customs in his home town Pirmasens. Tom was about to lose his mind and was 2 steps away from getting arrested. German customs is run very black and white, never thinking outside of the box. They finally gave Tom his bike. They inspected his USED bicycles and then charged Double Taxes claiming that they are new bicycles. Then realized they were wrong and approved that the bikes are in fact USED and that they over charged him. It only took them an hour to realize this. But now they want Tom to go to Koln which is 350km away and fill out a form for their mistake and not ride the bikes, but to ship them back and maybe, just maybe, Tom can get his money back for the overcharge on the taxes. Sounds like a joke, but it’s not. Tom is stuck in Germany with not allowed to ride his bikes, Missed the World Cup race, it’s raining none stop, and it’s freaking cold out. And on top of that, German customs also tagged his bike with an official seal stamped on his bike, which they stated he cannot ride it with the seal on the bike. This has to be a joke. The response from customs was “what can you do?” likes it’s a out of there hands.
Finally Amex called back and the rep says “ok I have multiple solution, let's look at them quickly because it is almost 5.30 and my shift is over soon”, OMG what the F@#% is this a hidden camera show?
Tom’s options are, He waits 7 days in Germany and they can give me a free exchange flight, but I have to pay exchange rate. Or Tom buys a new one way for more than originally 2 way. or in 5 days Tom can fly for a little cheaper or Amex can refund my money for the messed up Colombia flight (there messed up but Tom can say thanks for fixing it and giving MY own money back) or option number 4 Tom can get his Colombia flight money back and he can give Tom a super cheap flights directly to Columbia and also can change Cesar tickets for free by using the refund money to pay for it. So now Tom is flying Saturday with my bikes (with German tax seal on it) to Columbia and because He cannot go to Koln to the tax office and because he want to ride my bikes He cannot get his tax money back. How the heck after Tom explained 12 times to the customs people that Tom rides, sells eats, sleeps, bicycles they put a German seal on the bike and says just wait till the paperwork is done and the bikes go back to the USA (MAYBE) Tom is absolutely speechless about the thinking process of some people, how do you live in such a box. Now Tom finds out that the hotel in Austria also refuses to refund his money or even refused to refund partial money. So now Tom will be stuck in Colombia for 12 days till my meeting on the 28th.
But life sometimes doesn't always go your way but as long as you can smile you’ll be fine.
Today is the first day they have a small break from the rain and Tom get dressed and walk out the door and boom, full blown rain AGAIN, ok back in the house and have coffee number 6.
About an hour later a little sun so now Tom said “Forget this I'm going”. With 3 shirts and jacket off he go. Awesome fun ride around his mom’s house back to my old neighborhood. But here we go again with more bad luck. A landslide and the road was closed. Tom just smiled and said “great trip”. He turned around and only knew the highway route so he ask a friendly German guy and his daughter, she looks at me and say “Hey you’re Tom from Florida we watched your show” and they all laughed Tom’s new friends said “no no go around this way it's longer and uphill but no cars and a fun road little rough but nice”. So Tom say thanks and smiles and go up this rough road he is right nice quite and fun, bad road but good, 30 min later up hill road turns into gravel and mud , Tom look around, nice woods and fields. But no paved road so back to square one. All Tom can think about all that happened in 3 days and smile and laugh it off. Finally he stopped a car and get good none gravel directions, now on his way home. A fun ride but guess what? 45 min away from home here it comes again, Rain and more rain even more rain. Downhill all the way back home in the rain nothing Tom can do but smile. Back at moms now writing this with a big smile coffee number 7 and a good home made German meal.
Ok now let's see how tomorrow's 17 hour journey to Colombia will work out :)
See attached pictures of my nice German seal on my bikes and a succession from the 5 customs people not 2 ride. 1 hour at customs and tax office with 5 people. Now I know where our tax dollars go , lol lol live is amazing just ride and smile away.