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Old 04-25-2011, 12:26 PM   #1
AlpineGuerrilla OP
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Springtime in the Alps

Hello folks

I've taken two trips to the Alps this months and would like to share some impressions with you. This is my first attempt at a ride report and it's propably gonna be boring. So get off my lawn!

For those who are still here, let me begin with the first trip (April 2-3), which took me in two days through the Swiss and Italian Alps.

After some 100 miles on the Autobahn and a few on rural roads I was finally ready to hit the first pass this year, the Julier Pass. As this pass is an important route for the region, it's opened year round, in winter time only with snow chains of course. But I was asthonished how far away winter has already gone.

On the way to the Summit you ride through a village with the melodious sounding name Cunter.

Another beautiful name for this frozen lake: Lai da Marmorera.

What's better after a nice ride on the lonesome pass than a warm meal with a view? Well I thought so.

On my way to the next Pass was St. Moritz with an interesting pattern on the frozen lake.

There were still some skiers on the Bernina Pass, who looked at me like I was an alien. Well, 5°C (about 40 Fahrenheit) is too hot for skiing and ok for biking, so who want some?

Further on, I was able to witness some workers who detonated an avalanche and I had to wait for the road to be cleared again. The explosion echoed for multiple times from every side, amazing.

Crossing the border to Italy was interesting. As soon as I was in Italy, I was the slowest on the road. 20km/h speed limit because of road construction? 70km/h does it for them. Time to blend in and enjoy the warm weather.

Lonesome road near Porlezza at Lago di Lugano

Snack time and enjoying the sunset on the swiss side of Lake Lugano

As it was getting dark and I did not find an appropriate place for stealth camping (it's pretty crowded there) I went to an official camping spot. They did not hesitate to rip off 40 swiss francs (approx. the same in UDS) for one night. Wonder what it costs in July or August! Well forget about it and ride on.

Why can't I fill up my bike here? The tiny text says, you're not allowed to sit on your bike while refueling. Don't ask me why, but my fellow swiss people have a strange concept of security.

Some back roads between the lakes.

Notice the goat. There were many goats in the middle of the road and they did not bother to step back. But just as I grabbed my camera, they got scared and ran away, except for this little fella.

On the ferry over Lago Maggiore

Switchbacks on the way to the railway transport

Bikers (engine or not) get inside an extra wagon for the 10 minute ride.

This railway transport is an important way of getting north from the canton of Valais. If it weren't for this railway, you'd have to take a 150 miles detour around the mountain range, at least in summer time. I think it's always fun taking the train through the mountains.

After two days of enjoying 1100km on the road I was back home and ready for bed. Two days of riding can be worth one week of holiday.

Stay tuned for part two, where I visit even more lakes and mountains in Italy and Switzerland.

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Old 04-25-2011, 04:55 PM   #2
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Stunning ride! Thanks for the great pics

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Old 04-25-2011, 07:48 PM   #3
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Great pics, i spent some time ski touring the back country of the Bernese Oberland in 09, wow what a place . I stayed with a friend in a small town of Mullenen. i plan to be back soon armed with a bike.
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Old 04-25-2011, 08:30 PM   #4
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Thank you for sharing.

I'm dreaming from many miles away.
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:49 AM   #5
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Excellant and Thank You! Please keep it coming.

I'm coming over on June 6th and plan two months to enjoy the roads, the food, and the people. That train ride is somthing I'd like to do!

Regards, Paul
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Old 04-26-2011, 08:01 AM   #6
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I need to make a better effort to get to Europe in the near future. Yes, very near future.

Thanks for sharing your story with us.
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:58 AM   #7
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Thanks for the flowers, guys. I know I'm lucky to live an hour away from the alps.

My second trip was on the easter weekend (April 22-25). The "big" passes were still not open, so I made a route more or less along the italian lakes.

A friend invited me to their family cottage for breakfast, so it started by riding with him to the canton of Schwyz. I liked it that much (especially the view), I stayed for lunch.

Filled with lots of meat and saucers, my trip went on. As much time has passed and I still wanted to do some miles today I did not bother to stop until I was on the Ofen Pass, which leads through the Swiss National Park. This is one of my favourite passes, as it leads through miles of uninhabited nature and is very twisty with perfect asphalt. What a good start!

A few meters after the italian border

Vine watering in the Vinschgau Valley, a welcomed refreshing. The temperatures climbed from about 5°C (41F) on the Pass to 26°C (79F).

Next stop: Gampen Pass. The sun was already setting and I had the road all for myself.

I couldn't stop riding and I did not find an open store to buy me dinner, too bad. Luckily, some flower store was still open (wtf?) and they sold apples and bananas. So my dinner consisted of apples and bananas plus a Snickers I still had in my pockets. Stealth camping between vine and forest.

I got up early and rode some small Pass, again all for myself. I can imagine how full it is here in summer time or on daytime. My stomach thought it would be a good idea to get me some breakfast and the bike was thirsty too. So I went on the Auto Strada for a short time to go to a gas station with shop. I was surprised how good the sandwich and the coffee was - I guess thats Italy. Where else do you get delicious fresh food in gas shops?

Further on, I stopped to eat the last remaining banana.

And on to the Kaiserjägerstrasse (roughly: road of the emperors hunters) or Strada dell' Alpini in italian. This road was built in the late 19th century to supply the forces along the Austria-Hungarian/Italian Border. And you wouldn't believe there's a road if you stood at the foot of the mountain. Incredible road!

This next Pass (Passo della Borcola) was officialy still closed, and there was still snow and debris left on the street. However, that means more lonesome road for me. For miles I haven't seen anyone on this road from nowhere, through nowhere and to nowhere.
(The picture below was chosen as picture of the day on bikepics, see see here)

On the next Pass, which was closed too, there were some workers clearing the road from some trees. They were so kind to make a small gap for me to pass through.

Beautiful and twisty road through a canyon

Again some Passes, where I rode into the clouds and got a little bit wet. The downside was, I couldn't see Lake Garda from up here. Maybe next time.

Finally arriving at Lake Garda I ate a delicious salad

Many miles and twisties later I arrived at a camping at Lago d'Idro which featured a heated swimming pool and a restaurant with a stuffed Idontknow with two penises.

Reading a good book (Brave New World) with this view. And of course the occassional revving of two stroke motorcycles on the other side of the lake.

Breakfast view.

Lago d'Iseo with the island Monte Isola

Sleepy backroads with all the churches chiming for easter, as it was easter sunday.

Taking my meal in a restaurant with lots of kind people celebrating easter. We talked a lot, but we did not understand each other that good. Well, if was fun anyways.

After the next hill, there was a rather heavy storm raging. The sun dried me after the next Pass. There was a lot of rain announced for this weekend on the weather forecast, but this was the only time I really got wet. Good thing the storms are stopped by the mountain ranges.

My last salad, now it's time to head home.

I'll soon upload a video report of this trip as I had the GO PRO with me. So check back here if you're intersted.

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Old 04-30-2011, 12:37 PM   #8
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Thanks for the photos AG. I've been lusting for a return trip, perhaps in '12.
I was also lucky enough to catch a few passes that were closed by snow (gesperrt). Doesn't get much better than being alone on an Alpine road.
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:06 PM   #9
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Thank you very much for the report and great photos. I’m going to be riding some of the Alps for the first time starting in the middle of June for a month. I’m taking my camping gear and have been wondering if I was wasting my time and it would be to cold. You’ve made me a lot happier for making the decision and carrying all the extra gear. Did you camp all the way? I have no idea about camping facilities, is there a lot of camp grounds.

Cheers Steve
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Old 05-01-2011, 04:32 AM   #10
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Yeah I always sleep in the tent. When I started doing multi-day rides, it was just because I couldn't afford to stay in hotels. But I somehow never had to urge to change this habit.

There are plenty of campgrounds in the Alps, but you should stick to the tourist regions. There are always campgrounds along the lakes. If you want to stealth camp, do what the name says, be stealthy.
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Old 05-14-2011, 05:21 PM   #11
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Rlly nice pics! think I'll do a trip there too. Are there a lot of people during sommer? or should I wait till next year and go during eastern holidays?
can you legaly sleep with your tent on the border of the road or do you have to pay one of those expensive camping locations?

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Old 05-14-2011, 05:48 PM   #12
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Very Cool
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:54 PM   #13
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As always, the Alps are breathtaking... Thanks for the write-up!
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Old 05-15-2011, 12:22 PM   #14
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Great pics keep them coming, between the mountain views and the food shots it doesn't get much better. it helps motivate me for a return trip out there
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Old 05-15-2011, 04:56 PM   #15
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Impressive stealth camping! I'm traveling around Switzerland right now but left my camping gear up in northern Germany because I'd rather stay at a hostel than pay big $$$ to camp. It is great to see you find a place to do it.

I wonder what the local response would be if they found you. How laid back are the swiss with property? I know alot of places in Texas the land owners would be pissed.
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