3 Strangers Meet for a 10 Day Ride in the Alps

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by on2wheels52, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,545
    Location:
    northern Arkansas
    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
    Jürgen

    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

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    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

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    Perhaps I should introduce my carry on luggage

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    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.

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    No jetway for me in Frankfurt

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    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

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    Rooms on the left, the shop (and also Stefan's home) on the right

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    A place for maintaince

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    I would have an '05 GS

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    Marc and Jürgen loading up

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    We walked around the city for a while, then got some rest for for the ride.
    Jim
    #1
  2. hoser54

    hoser54 just havin' fun

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    104
    Location:
    Northern Illinois
    Sounds like a great ride!! Subscribed:1drink
    #2
  3. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    northern Arkansas
    Day One
    Stefan has breakfast ready shortly after 7, we soon figure how to operate his espresso machine. By 9 we are heading south on Autobahn A3.
    70 km brings us near Buhl, where we exit for what Jürgen calls Schwartzwaldstrasse.

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    Stopped for lunch in Schluch-see

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    Nobody had the chicken

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    We crossed the Rhine river into Switzerland at Waldshut. The 100 km from there to Schattdorf are much busier, involving some stop-and-go
    traffic and almost always we are among other vehicles. But it was still an entertaining ride.
    We had a garage to park the bikes for our first two nights in Switzerland at Berg-Gasthaus Haldi.

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    It would have been a long walk up there

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    But they had thoughtfully provided an easier way up

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    And here we are in the Alps

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    l-r, Jürgen, myself, Marc
    We didn't expect much from the musicians on the courtyard

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    So I was suprised when I heard these two guys warming up on the other side of the building

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    They were there to play for a group of agents who were having a banquet at the place.
    It's all about harmony

    [​IMG]

    Jim
    #3
  4. Haroon

    Haroon RIDE for PASSION

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    556
    Location:
    Jeddah, Saudi Arabia/ Bangalore, INDIA
    Jim- Nice to hear about another super ride in the Alps from one of my Alps guru:D
    I am tuned in.
    #4
  5. Ridestrong

    Ridestrong Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    157
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I'm goin' on this ride too! Subscribed!
    #5
  6. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

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    Day 2
    If I had any jet lag I lost it in Heidelberg. I was up by 6.
    Their pasture looked pretty lush for september

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    A tidy henhouse

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    He seemed to be the head chicken

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    They all had bells

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    Sunrise on Shattdorf and Urner See

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    The place looked like it had been there a while

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    We didn't get a card key

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    Jim
    #6
  7. RevBill

    RevBill Irreverent Reverend

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,169
    Location:
    Mayodan, NC
    ... awesome .. hope you don't mind if I tag along ..
    #7
  8. JurgenB

    JurgenB daily rider

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    400
    Location:
    Alps
    Jim,
    you're doing a wonderful job! Great photo documentation. One of these days, we'll have to do it again and ride the other 1000 or so passes we missed on this ride....
    #8
  9. axelwik

    axelwik Yep

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    395
    Location:
    Albuquerque
    I thought that picture of the city down below looked familiar. I have an uncle that lives in Shattdorf.
    #9
  10. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,545
    Location:
    northern Arkansas
    Day 2 Continued

    Breakfast at 7 again, then off to ride "Around Andermat", a six pass loop and ending back at the hotel.
    I meant to take a photo of the sign indicating the way Susten Pass in Wassen. No billboard type affair, it was about like the street
    signs in my subdivision. It wasn't hard to find though (especially when you're following someone who knows where they're going),
    there weren't many crossroads in the town.
    The agenda for the day: Susten, Grimsel, Furka, Gotthard, Lukmanier and Oberalp passes.

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    I have to remind myself that mountain passes aren't all big dramatic affairs like this one (in Colorado)

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    Sometimes the road just kind of flattens out

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    There were a couple of times I had to turn around after I went by the pass sign or when I saw Marc and Jürgen parked.
    But of course the road to the passes was great.

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    We came a cross a nice pair of Triumphs

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    A small galcier

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    When you're on the road you never know what the restrooms will be like

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    I don't normally see many (any) Aston Martin's in my part of Arkansas

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    It was the time of year when the cattle are moved down from their summer pastures. Not a big deal in some places

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    Some places it is

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    Cow bells as big as a 5 gallon bucket

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    It clouded up as we returned, but didn't look like rain

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    Meat and potatoes for supper

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    Jim
    #10
  11. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    2,545
    Location:
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    Day 3

    Jürgen's original plan was to head southwest to the French part of the Alps. But the weather forcast showed that rain storms would
    be developing in that area and we would likely be caught up in them when we headed back east. Perhaps I will make it there on
    another trip I thought, as my map of France went to the bottom of the stack.
    With our schedule so flexible, we had no reservations to cancel. Over breakfast we looked at a map and plotted our route for the day.

    No school bus for these kids, we wondered if they knew how lucky they were

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    Some of the older kids rode the scooters to the tram station

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    Bidding farewell to our host, she was a sweetie. Jürgen had stayed there before; I'm sure Marc or I would never have
    found such a great place to stay on our own.

    [​IMG]

    Jim
    #11
  12. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    2,545
    Location:
    northern Arkansas
    Day 3

    Fom Jürgen, "Starting from Schattdorf, we ran back up Oberalp and Lukmanier passes to Biasca, then on to Bellinzona.
    From there, north across San Bernardino into Splügen, back South across Splügen pass, through Italy for a short bit, then into
    Chiavenna and across Maloja Pass into St. Moritz. Staying at Hotel Palü in Pontresina."

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    We stopped for a while there, Marc and Jürgen had a bite

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    We dropped down to Italy

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    They must have had some good memories of Americans

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    Jim
    #12
  13. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Day 3

    Given the palm tree, perhaps we weren't in one of the higher elevation areas of the Alps at this point

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    Somewhere on the road

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    I recognized the tram car in St. Moritz from one of the Bond movies.
    It wasn't far from there to Pontresina
    The nicest hotel in town, but not ours

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    We did take in the lobby though
    The one we had was fine, a bit souless perhaps. It was pretty new

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    I had a nice view

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    We saw these signs in Switzerland

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    I may not have the best translation, but in effect the girl is saying that she will use the crosswalk and that she expects you to stop for her
    (and come to a complete stop)

    A lady was taking a photo of this in Pontresina, I figuried I might as well also

    [​IMG]

    Jim
    #13
  14. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Location:
    Toronto
    Great ride :thumb

    :lurk
    #14
  15. sloater

    sloater Steve Segal

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
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    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Great photography :clap

    Have a great ride!!!
    #15
  16. c-zulu

    c-zulu Resident Dirt Burner

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    Very nice.
    #16
  17. Ladybug0048

    Ladybug0048 Bug Sister

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Spokane Valley, WA (the dry side of the mountains)
    Nice. I'm looking forward to more.
    #17
  18. Catastrophic Failure

    Catastrophic Failure Catastrophic Failure

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    156
    Location:
    Tacoma
    The riding looks great and your photos are even better. I spent 10 days racing around Germany on trains and in a car during the 2006 World Cup, thank you for sharing the correct way to see Germany! :clap:clap
    Looking forward to more of your Ride Report!
    #18
  19. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

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    Oddometer:
    2,545
    Location:
    northern Arkansas
    Day 4
    There were low clouds as the sun came up

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    We pulled our bikes out and loaded up

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    I was suprised that in just a few kilometers the sky had cleared

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    Me coming up to Bernina

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    The big picture of the area

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    We took a break at the pass

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    I think hangliders land here, though none did while we were there

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    I failed to get this KLR rider's name, he had about the only set of knobbie tires I saw

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    I guess the border crossings aren't as serious as they used to be, although this one had a uniformed guy

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    I had been waiting for this sign

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    Jim
    #19
  20. Al-X

    Al-X Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    235
    Location:
    Johannesburg, South Africa
    Beautiful scenery!! Must have been a jol!!
    #20