Alps 2011 Peter, Frank, Dave and Me Introduction I think it's fair to say that from the moment I first turned a wheel onto Passo Sella in 2009 I've been planning this return trip. That experience, shared with my friend Jim (trflyboy on STN) was, by an overwhelming margin, the most amazing time I've spent on two wheels. It took 2 years to make it happen, but on June 11th I was back on an airplane headed for Europe. But let's back up a little. First up was putting together a crew of riders to join us. Long story short, in the end there would be four us going. Myself, plus Dave (nearlyseventy), Peter (gasguage) and Frank (Skee). Unfortunately Jim was unable to join me this time around. Next was figuring out where to go. I knew the Dolomites would be in the mix again - I think I could spend the rest of my riding days there and never be bored. Last trip we spent some time riding the passes in the Swiss Alps around the town of Andermatt, and while they were spectacular neither Jim nor I felt the need to go back and redo them. That left about half the trip open for new places. Looking into bike rental options, our riding areas got narrowed down to a few obvious choices. We could fly to Zurich again and rent from Moto Mader, but that would pretty much mean repeating the 2009 trip almost exactly, which we didn't want to do. The other locations with major rental bike options were Milan and Munich. Bikes from Milan were pricier, and would mean our first time on the bikes would be escaping Milan surrounded by crazy spirited Italian drivers. That left Munich, which would work out fine. There were several rental outfits to choose from, prices were pretty good, and it's a city I've always wanted to visit (I come from German ancestry). Using Munich as our base meant we had a few new riding areas to choose from to add to the Dolomites section - western Austria, the Black Forest area of Germany, a return to Stelvio and Gavia just to name a few. After an untold amount of e-mail exchanges and Skype sessions, a plan was made. We'd head out from Munich to the Berchtesgaden area of Bavaria, head over Grosglockner to the Dolomites, then Gavia and Stelvio on the way back to Munich. We chose to rent from an outfit in Landshut, just north of Munich, called Moto Maier. They had good prices, offered a large selection of bikes, and Hermann was great to deal with over e-mail. Dave, Peter and I would be picking bikes up on Thursday the 16th since we had more vacation time to burn, and Frank would get his on Friday and meet us at our hotel. This trip was going to cost a bit more than the last one, as airfare prices never came down this year for peak travel to Europe. I had started tracking prices in the fall of 2010, and they went from around $1,000 to $1,500 by Christmas and never came down. This was particularly troubling to me since at the end of the biking section of the trip my wife and son were flying out to meet me to spend an additional 2 weeks in Europe. In 2009 I paid $645 for my flight from PHL to ZRH, so I had budgeted around $2,400 for the three of us. Now I was looking at $4,500! I would have to do something about that.