Hello America! | Part #1 – Trading Our Home Trails
No matter how much people try to make you believe something, it may not be true. We are not all the same, we don’t necessarily share opinions, and we have different habits. And this is good, because this is what makes our lives so unique and exciting. But what happens if you swap your life with someone you’ve never met? We found these two inspiring individuals (well actually, they found each other and us) and you can experience for yourself firsthand how their cultures clash. Hello America! Servus Deutschland.
Evan is from the United States and got his first mountain bike in 1988 when he was a kid growing up in the northeastern state of Vermont. He rode cross-country and raced downhill in the 90’s with support from Schwinn and Brooklyn Machine Works until his professional life pulled him away. He lived, worked, and rode bikes from New York City to California over the years but always stayed tight with his crew who made a living riding bikes. These days he works on computers to pay his bills and continues to rides bikes all over the world while he also passes his passion for bikes down to his kids. His latest job brings him to Germany and now he hits the trails in search of the European soul of mountain biking.
‘David Hasselhoff, soccer, tight v-neck shirts – I was full of expectations (and maybe fears) when I left my mother-country America and moved to Germany. At first I felt insecure and I was sure that I was THE FIRST biker to ever give up his home trails and go start over in a new world. Right? I had a tight crew and a killer local scene with access to loads of people and sick trails. Nobody else would be dumb enough to walk away from that and start all over again … in a new city … in a new country … on a new continent. Right’?
And the biggest concern of all: How would the riding be?
It didn’t take me long to make new friends and find my way around the biking world here in Europe. And almost a year after I left the US, I found out that I’m not that unique after all. Sure, I have my own stories, but it turns out that at about the same time I made my move, there was someone else experiencing similar things in my home-country. I’ve never met this guy in person or seen him before … but just by fate we became friends on Facebook. We both experienced almost the same things in our new lives… excitement, awesome trails, and a totally new rider scene. This makes me think that bikers are somehow a special breed – no matter where they live or grew up, there is a unique and universal culture we all share.
Digital and social media shrinks our world considerably because it brings together people who may not otherwise be introduced. Back in America I was not an avid social media user, but since I moved to Germany I’ve learned to adapt. My circle of friends on Facebook grows slowly as I meet new locals, and it was through friends of friends that I first met Steffen. Actually, if we didn’t share mutual real-world friends, I’d have to wonder if I was being pranked since I’ve still never met him in real life.Steffen – A German in America, who weirdly hangs out with Evan’s friends…
I was incredibly confused when I noticed frequent Facebook updates about my home trails in America because they were coming from a German guy from Stuttgart. An awkward instant messaging conversation between Steffen and me confirmed that we had swapped lives in the last year. Within about a month of each other, I moved from just outside Washington D.C. to Stuttgart, and he did the reverse. He was riding my trails, and I was riding his. He was drinking beer in my bars, and I was drinking beer, well, everywhere. The primary similarities are that we are both 41, we love bikes, and our wives have very similar names.
It has been entertaining to read Steffen’s stories about my hometown and hear his impression of American cycling from a German perspective. It seems that he has similarly enjoyed my stories. The brains behind Enduro Magazine think that readers on both sides of the Atlantic will also enjoy our adventures as we learn about new cultures, trails, and rider communities. Thus, Steffen and I will hit the trails and from time to time share the experiences of an American in Germany and a German in America. We hope you enjoy these stories as much as we enjoy exploring.
Words: Steffen Gronegger & Evan Phillips Illustration / Photos: Jannik Welz, Christian Lämmle, Max Leitner