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leonb

Ride Report Alps/Dolomites Europe (long)

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leonb

Hi,

 

A few weeks ago, a friend and I went for a ride in the Alps and Dolomites. We kept a diary (as usual) and I've put that diary on my homepage. In order to lessen the load on that homepage, I've copied/pasted it here. For pics you would have to go to my homepage though (which gets shut downed by geocities if it gets too many hits frown.gif ). I'm still working on the overview pic, but as another ride comes up, I better post this now.

 

 

 

Day 1, May 9th 2002, Eindhoven (NL)- Zurich (CH) - Nauders (A), 736+ 338km (457+210mi)

 

I got up at 1:00am this night, took a shower, did my usual wake up routine. Called my girlfriend and fired up Magnet (my '00 BMW R1100RT) at 0145am. Went to a cash machine for some much needed Euros, and off I went. What can I say? 736 Kilometers mostly on German autobahn. Uneventful, easy riding.Didn't take her up to too much speed. Max was about 160km/h. Almost no traffic. It's Ascension Day, so everybody is off from work and the road is mine. The Swiss speedlimit of 120km/h (75mph) seems slow, very slow. Yet, I behaved like a good citizen and kept Magnet at the 120km/h mark. For a change I didn't get lost in Zurich. Must be because there was a detour...

 

Arrived at 7:50am at Mark's place. Revved Magnet a few times, and Mark came outside. Had breakfast and coffee. Good coffee... We checked for the latest information about the passes on the internet. We saw that our initial plan could not be carried out, as Timmelsjoch and Bielerhohe in Austria were still closed. We changed the desired route and headed out. At 0930am we checked our first pass (Albispass 791m, 2595ft). After some more low but fun passes at Mark's playground (in the Swiss cantons of St. Gallen and Appenzell), we headed towards Liechtenstein (country number 4 for me today) and the Fluelapass (2383m, 7818ft). At that pass, that had only been open for about two weeks after winter closure, we encountered a lot of snow. Luckily it was only at the side of the road. We had to take extra care though, because of the water that was spread on the roads from melting snow.

 

After the Fluelapass we sped towards Nauders. Very little traffic, especially compared to the rest of the day. Highlight of the day was the last twisty part from the Swiss-Austrian border over the Norberthohe to Nauders itself. We did this part at Edelweiss 2 too (twice even), but then in wet conditions. Now it was dry and loads of fun.

 

Our new rear tires are definitely worn in now. Our hotel is the one we searched for at Edelweiss 2. The hotel is reasonably good, although the shower gets a C-. Tomorrow we'll head to the Reschenpass and then onwards into Italy. Dolomites, here we come!

 

Mark adds: "Rolf sucks. Rolf sold our soup to bicyclists!!" (Rolf is the owner of a little "Alpenstubli" at the Schwagalppass. We ordered soup, and he brought us empty plates, which he later removed again for serving his last soup to his bicycle friends. Phuh!)

 

Mark adds: Walkie-talkies (ridie-talkies??) are working terrific. Although you have to _S_P_E_A_K_ _V_E_R_Y_ _C_L_E_A_R_L_Y_ because of the wind noise over 80km/h (50mph) and our hearing protection.

 

Passes for today:

Albispass (791m, 2595ft)

Hulftegg (953m, 3127ft)

Wasserfluh (843m, 2766ft)

Schwagalp (1278m, 4193ft)

Stoss (942m, 3091ft)

Luzisteig (713m, 2339ft)

Wolfgangpass (1631m, 5351ft)

Fluelapass (2383m, 7818ft)

 

 

Day 2, May 10th 2002, Nauders (A) - St. Martin in Thurn/San Martino in Badia (I), 289km (180mi)

 

Two-and-a-half hours of slow traffic between trucks, RV's and farm vehicles. That's how our ride started this morning. At Merano the streets were filled with even more cars and people. *sigh* What a lousy start!

 

The real fun started after we managed our way out of Merano, around noon. And it started out good. The Jaufenpass was white with snow and it was raining. We enjoyed it anyway. At pass height itself there wasn't much to see, so we continued. A few switchbacks later a restaurant presented itself and we had a nice lunch there. The stretch of tarmac next to the restaurant that was not part of the road (some people would call it a parking lot) was filled with 7 or 8 BMW motorcycles plus Mark's Zoeki (an '01 Suzuki Bandit 600S). After a lunch with an amazing view we continued toward the Penser Joch. Also a fun pass to do. From time to time the sun showed itself and the roads were dry. Via some small backroad (via Klobenstein) we managed to avoid Bolzano. It turned out to be a fun little road. We really worked hard through those curves. Nearing the end of our little detour, the road was

becoming increasingly smaller. I don't think I could have overtaken Mark, because the bikes wouldn't have fit next to each other.

 

At the roadside, we visited a supermarket for some fruit and water. We figured we could use it as a shelter for our first severe downpour while we were stopped anyway. While waiting for the rain to stop, we thought we found a nice little road leading us towards where we wanted to go. But later we found out that it lead towards The Village Without Paved Roads. And without any signs for direction too. After 3 turn-arounds and asking twice for directions (if a man asks for directions, it must be pretty bad, right ladies?) we ended up where we wanted, but not before a muddy downhill slalom around rocks type-of-roads though. We laughed at the speedlimit of 30km/h (19mph). We would never have dared to do that kind speed over there...

 

At St. Peter (it was already 5:30pm by now) we decided to go on for a while longer. The road was good and mostly dry, the sun was out and most important of all, we still felt like going on. Here we had one of the most beautiful views of the mountains and valleys around us of the whole trip. I hope the photos turned out well. Two passes further we were getting tired. We both were making mistakes and we took it easy in search of a hotel. We found Hotel Diamant (Hotel Diamond, 3 carats).

 

Riding-wise, the highlight of the day was the detour we took in order to avoid Bolzano (from Ost. d. Turisti/W.H. Touristen to Collalbo/Klobenstein). We both had a "learning moment" today (e.g.: "paint on a wet road is slippery, even if you don't *intend* to ride over it" and "Oh sh*t, this corner is tighter than I thought..."). The hotel owner (the same guy as the barman, the cook, the desk-clerk, the maid, etc...) asked us whether we would like to eat fish tonight. We said we didn't like fish and he replied that he knew what we'd eat then. And eat we did. After a salad, we got pasta. Feeling pretty stuffed and ready for desert, the main dish was served. Oooops! Being Dutch, of course we ate it all. Then came desert.

 

The towels in this hotel are like tablecloths. And yes, the tablecloths look like towels. Weird... The shower gets a C- again. It doesn't feature any shower curtains, hence the toilet, toiletpaper and heating all get wet during a shower. Our balcony is very wide though. About 25 meters (80ft). Most noticable about our balcony are not the empty flowerbaskets, nor the nice wooden ornaments. It's a shower door used as part of the roof.

 

We appreciate our ridie-talkies more and more. We use it mostly for safety issues. ("Rocks!! in that corner" "CAR! after this hairpin!")

 

Reschenpass/Passo di Resia (1507m, 4944ft)

Jaufenpass/ Passo di Monte Giovo (2099m, 6886ft)

Penser Joch/Passo di Pennes (2215m, 7267ft)

Kofel Joch/Passo di Eores (1863m, 6112ft)

Wurz Joch/Passo delle Erbe (2004m, 6575ft)

 

 

 

Day 3 May 11th 2002, St. Martin in Thurn - Caldaro/Kaltern , 316km( 196mi)

 

12 Passes, half of which were above 2000m (6562ft)!

 

Got up at 6:43, so we could have our breakfast at 7:30. We were glad to get out of bed. The bed proved to be too short (1.90m/6'3"). As we were the only guests, we got our breakfast right away. Done with breakfast, We needed a 24mm wrench to loosen Zoeki's rear axis for a chain adjustment. After some calling around town (the hotel owner did this for us in an unintelligible local dialect (he is also the hotel's phone operator)) we found a wrench. Forty-five minutes later (9:20) and we were on our way. We took it easy towards the Grodnerjoch, where we could take a helicopter flight around the mountains. But at 60 Euro's for 10 minutes and not such a great view, we thought it was better to continue.

 

The weather up to now had been pretty good. Our descent started wet though and it didn't get any dryer. The two following passes of the Sella group followed in quick succession. All wet and foggy. The summits of the surrounding mountains were hidden in the clouds. This was supposed to be the most beautiful part of the trip, but we didn't see much because of the low clouds. So we have to go back one time to verify that.

 

At Cortina d'Ampezzo, we had to search for our desired way out. After some guessing we ended up going up the right road though. It was a quick road and soon we arrived at the still frozen Misurina lake. We warmed up while eating a pizza. At the restaurant we left our seats soaking wet... oops.. bye! The roads would be a lot more fun if they were dry, but we're having fun anyway. I think we're riding in the area where the cover-photo of John Hermann's famous Motorcycle Journeys through the Alps was taken. A lot of pine trees while riding the only road through the mountainous area. After a while we encountered a dry road. We immediately let our bikes stretch their legs. Loads of fun. After some smaller passes we reached Caldaro/Kaltern, where we found a hotel for the night. Our bikes are in the basement parking with some other bikes, no doubt chatting about the roads they saw. We had some dinner in town (interrupted by two ugly Italian girls) because the hotel didn't have a restaurant.

 

We encountered quite some BMW motorcycles today, most of them with German plates. The little Italian guys in their little Italian cars haven't shown themselves that much yet. I'm glad.

 

Passo di Gardena/GrödnerJoch (2121m, 6959ft)

Passo di Sella/SellaJoch (2244m, 7362ft)

Passo Pordoi/PordoiJoch (2239m, 7346ft)

Passo di Falzarego (2105m, 6906ft)

Passo Cimabache (1529m, 5016ft)

Col San Angelo/Misurina (1756m, 5761ft)

Passo Tre Croci (1805m, 5922ft)

Passo di Giau (2233m, 7326ft)

Passo di Fedaïa (2057m, 6749ft)

Passo di Costalunga/Karerpass (1745m, 5725ft)

Passo di Lavaze (1805m, 5922ft)

Passo di San Lugano (1097m, 3599ft)

 

 

 

 

Day 4, May 12th 2002, Caldaro - Zurich - Eindhoven, 465 + 736km (289 + 457mi)

 

We started off in Caldaro towards the Mendelpass. A good wide road to start the day easy. The pass isn't really high, but Caldaro itself is pretty low, so we encountered some hairpins anyway. Via Fondo we headed towards Passo di Tonale. That turned out to be a fairly straight road and most bikers let their bikes get the better of them. We behaved ourselves and cruised along. At one point we were overtaken bij two german bikers (from Freiburg). They triggered the only-green-below-50kmh (30mph) traffic light which forced us all to stop. *sigh* At green they roared off. But soon we caught up with them in the twisties. Slow cornerspeed, but high straightaway speed. What else can you do with a 30cm (12 inches) wide rear tire?

 

We had a brief stop at the Tonale. Not for the sights but for Leon who wasn't feeling to well. A while later on the Passo di Mortirolo Leon had to get rid of his breakfast. Oh well. The road up the Mortirolo consisted of bad tarmac and was not as wide as the Tonale. Descending the Mortirolo took

forever. Lots of steep hairpins and a narrow (1 car wide) wet road. After Mazzo di Valtellina we could shift into 3rd again. Yay! We quickly left Tirano and zoomed up the Berninapass (CH). For a change it didn't snow while we were here and it even felt comfortable.

 

We had a nice snack at the Ospizio Bernina. It was still dry when we climed back aboard and the road down was empty except for one or two cars. So we reached St. Moritz at spirited pace and Leon felt lots better. We opted for the Malojapas and Splugenpass instead of the quick way home over the Julierpass (which we had already covered in our previous tour).

 

St. Moritz is only a few meters below the Malojapass, so we had an easy road up the pass. Mark thinks we saw the most beautiful scenery of the entire trip along this road. We only took one picture going down the pass, though. The road from Maloja to Chiavenna (I) took a long time because of slow driving italians (they exist after all!!) and few possibilities to overtake them. After Chiavenna (at 333m) we went up the Splugenpass. But this road had bad tarmac, many extremely narrow switchbacks, tunnels, galleries and cars. We thought it would never end. We soon realized we were not going to be in Zurich at 5:00pm. Finally, at 2113m (6932ft) altitude we reached the top and crossed the border into Switzerland again. It was already 5:00pm.

 

Luckily the Swiss take better care of their roads and soon we were enjoying the curves down towards the highway again. Ahhh, broad beautiful tarmac. We quickly took the highway towards Chur. At the Walensee we ended up in a huge traffic jam. We later found out that the length of the traffic jam was about 16km (10mi)! Luckily for us, most cages moved out of our way and we split lanes most of the way. At the exit Thalwil, our magnificant tour suddenly ended when Mark and I took our own ways home.

 

So it was around 8:30pm when I arrived in downtown Zurich, right in the middle of a local monsoon. I wasn't looking forward to my 736km (457mi) long ride home in the wet. A few kilometers after Zurich the rain stopped though and I made good time towards the border. The roads were still wet and some drizzling never stopped until I passed Basel. I welcomed the speed limit in Germany and saw a clear sky above me. I sped home. One stop to get gas and to put my polarfleece sweater on. I arrived home safe and sound in Eindhoven at 2:10am.

 

We have to go back to the Sella group some time. And we might as well take a nice route to get there too then wink.gif

 

Mendelpass/Passo di Mendola (1363m, 4472ft)

Passo di Tonale (1883m, 6178ft)

Passo di Mortirolo (1896m, 6220ft)

Berninapass (2328m, 7638ft)

Malojapass (1815m, 5955ft)

Splugenpass (2113m, 6932ft)

 

Leon's total for Edelweiss 3: 2880km (1789mi)<BR><BR>

 

 

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jackie

What a beautiful trip! I want to ride there!!! With all that snow on the ground it looks like it was way cold to be riding in those passes. Is there that much snow in the summer time, too? I hope they have good beer in that region... laugh.gif

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leonb

Dang, you're right! I thought I checked...Guess I didn't...

 

Leon

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Doug 55

Great report on your excellent adventure ! A lot of the mountain and lake scenery looks like what we enjoy touring through in our region.

 

Keep the shiny side up and all of that stuff !

 

- DQ laugh.gif

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