A little background
In '08, with no foreign language ability, I managed to make a solo ride around parts of southern Germany and much of Austria.
Early this year I had put in a request and had it approved by my wife to plan another trip to the Alps in September 2012. I was hoping that
would be long enough to corral another rider (ideally one with at least had german in high school) to take the same trip.
Then I see this posted in Trip Planing on ADV in late May this year:
Alps in September, 10 Days Many Passes - Still Need a Few Brave Souls
I am leading a trip to the Alps to ride a bunch of the historic passes between Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria.
Still looking for a few buddies to come along.
Very similar to the Edelweiss rides, but more flexibility, more riding, a bit less sightseeing. This is for serious riders - we'll be doing
a lot of switchbacks, much better than the "tail of the dragon" or any other curvy road this side of the pond. We'll rent bikes in
Heidelberg and pick biker-friendly hotels. Good food too. In the post-season there are plenty of affordable rooms and few tourists,
and the weather is usually stable.
Dates: 10 riding days, September 12 to 21, 2011 (still a bit flexible)
PM me for details
We emailed and phoned (even made my first Skype call).
I discover he is a native german but has been working in the US as a mining engineer for many years. Has a couple of bikes. Has
european maps in his GPS. He said there wouldn't be any more than six in the group, would be to tough to manage any more.
Cathy gives me the ok (and yes, I had to give up going in '12)
We will be renting our bikes from Stefan Knopf in Heidelberg, a few hours further from the Alps than Munich (where I started last time)
but Jürgen had rented from him before and spoke highly of his services. Stefan has a B&B at his site which saves a lot of logistical
problems for a rider's first and last day in Germany. Having been there, I can also speak highly of the experience. In my part of the
country, Stefan would be known as a "stand-up" kind of guy.
Jürgen knew two other potential riders that might sign on, but they weren't able to commit. A few week before we were to leave, Marc
from NC (as fate would have it, we all own GS's) expressed an intrest in going. I shared a few communications with him. He had
hitch-hiked across europe in the '70's and had been back several times since. Hadn't ridden in the Alps though. He was a bit leery of
what kind of trip he might be getting into but decided to come anyway.
We all agreed that if the 'chemistry' between us didn't work out we could all find our way around on our own.
I was the only one who brought along some maps
No, I didn't bring ALL of these but I had a pretty good stack (and aquired some more there)
Time to go
Cathy was kind enough to drive me to Springfield MO for my flight to Chicago.
My flight is three up from the bottom
Perhaps I should introduce my carry on luggage
I had been watching the dollar/euro/chf (swiss franc) exchange ratio for some time. While I was waiting for my flight out of O'Hare I
studied this kiosk for a while but never did totally make sense out of it. I just went with what I had.
No jetway for me in Frankfurt
I soon located the shuttle that would take me to Heidelberg.
I may not have known it at the time, but through this gate lies motorcycle nirvana
Rooms on the left, the shop (and also Stefan's home) on the right
A place for maintaince
I would have an '05 GS
Marc and Jürgen loading up
We walked around the city for a while, then got some rest for for the ride.