Europe 2012 Maritime Alps ans Vosges

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by PFFOG, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Well another adventure in the books. Two+ weeks playing in the Maritime Alps, the Vosges, with a little of the Black forest thrown in for good Measure. This year we were back on a tour with Beach’s Motorcycle Adventures http://www.beachs-mca.com/ , on their Alpine West tour.


    We arrived in Zurich a couple days early, and spent some time wandering around town, We were going to get some early riding in, but persistent rain would have taken some of the fun out of the corners, so we laid low, and spent some time wandering around the old town.

    We stayed in the old town, so lots of shops and variety of restaurants to keep us occupied.

    View from our room.




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    Saturday Night on the square
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    Weekends saw a lot of partying, and as almost no hotels have AC, windows stay open, so earplugs were handy for a good night’s sleep.

    Altstadt (Old Town) Zurich, like many of the European Old town is just amazing, building that were built before Columbus sailed to America! And churches with Majestic clock towers everywhere.





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    A 2 wheel culture for sure, it is great because most drivers started on 2 wheels so they have a respect for them, that you don’t get in North America.





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    #1
  2. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    On to the riding part of the trip.

    Here is my GPS tracks and elevation profile from the trip. Rode most of the high passes in the Alps, included the Assietta Kammstrasse, a 30 km dirt trail that follows a ridge and traverses several Cols. I have to say it is the most beautiful ride in the Alps, everywhere you turn, gorgeous scenery.



    Also found a little road with 30 switchbacks in less than 5km! 2/3 of the Stelvio without traffic and the rough pavement!

    GPS tracks


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    Elevation Profile in Feet


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    #2
  3. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Monday was time to ride, and mother nature cooperated, it was overcast an hazy, but the moisture stayed in the sky. First day is a loop day, returning to Zurich.



    The wife and I decided to take the long route, meandering small roads and up and over a small pass in Switzerland.



    I know watching videos can sometimes be as exciting as watching paint dry, but they do show the roads better than still pics do so I will link them as I go along.



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    My steed for the next 2 weeks, not often you call a R1200GS pretty, but I kind of like the looks of this one. Gave it back with about twice the mileage it had when I got it.



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    Did I say small roads? They offer great views, almost non-existent traffic, and an up close and personal view of the countryside.


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    Lunch was on the Pragel pass, my first of many bowls of goulash zuppa, a lunch time staple in the Alps. It is a little different in every place, my theory is it is the leftovers, thrown in a tomato base, with some spices, and served with bread. Just right for a light lunch.



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    Our view from our table on the patio




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    The low clouds hanging over the eastern side of the pass




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    As well as some gravel washed on the road, the numerous waterfalls were running from the recent rains.


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    #3
  4. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    cool!
    we were there almost the same time?
    similar routes too (well the first part anyway).
    #4
  5. Motopumps

    Motopumps Long timer

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    :lurk
    #5
  6. enduro0125

    enduro0125 Sticks and Stones™..

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    Great photos.

    :lurk
    #6
  7. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Tuesday 9/4
    Time to hit the road. One of the Advantages of a tour, is no real packing, just leave the suitcase in the lobby, and it magically appears in your room at the next hotel! Saddle bags never came off, all we had to carry was helmets, and the tank bag at night.



    We were headed to Kaysersburg for the night, via the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). Weather was again cool, hazy and overcast, but dry.



    We headed out of Zurich and were soon into Germany and the Schwarzwald. We rode along taking all the small roads we could find, even though traffic was non-existent on the bigger roads, you just see more, and the small roads have a way of slowing things down, have a more relaxed feel, and that is what vacations are all about .





    Just a taste of a small road.



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    We wandered along, extending the trip to catch as many good roads as we could find.


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    Stopped for a nice lunch at a place with a lakeside view.



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    We resumed traveling on, yup more small back roads. We stopped along, check that in the road for a bottle of water and to soak in the countryside. In ½ hour or so we relaxed we had maybe 4 other vehicles go by.





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    We arrived in Kaysersberg, which is one of our favorite towns in the area, we passed through in ’07, and when we went back to the area in ’09, we spent 5 nights here. Touristy, yes and no, It is small enough that you don’t get the feel of a tourist town, but you do get the variety of shops restaurants, lodging etc. Luckily, for the charge card, we did not get to town until after the shops were closed, so the wife did not have the opportunity to shop :D


    Those that are fans of the Tour De France and historians, we stayed in a Hotel that was run by Roger Hassenforder, a professional cyclist in the 50’s and 60’s and won several stages of the race, and wore the yellow shirt for a few days in his career.



    Rooms were typical small town Europe, well-appointed but small.



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    A morning walk through town, where I had the streets to myself for the most part. A very picturesque town.



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    #7
  8. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Wednesday 9/5

    The route now heads south towards the highest peaks in the Alps, but it will take a few days of playing on some great roads to get there. Today’s route took us up the highest peak in the Vosges in France, at 4672 feet, and once part of the Tour De France.

    The Vosges are very similar to the Smoky’s in topography, the roads are plentiful and as good as the best NC roads, with one BIG difference, other vehicles pull over to let you by, and you can pass almost everywhere, with no fear of a ticket. The Europeans assume if you are smart enough to drive, you are smart enough to figure out where it is safe to overtake


    The ride on the way up the Grand Ballon.


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    The GOPRO is a great little camera, but next time I would find a different way to mount it, on rough roads it bounces too much, on a helmet the movement can be distracting, and the sound is not as good, too much wind noise, or if you use the closed back, just muted sound. Music overdubs take away some of the sense of the road.



    Col du Bagenelles


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    Not a lot of pic’s this day, as it stayed overcast, but stayed dry. This area of France has numerous cemetery’s, full of French, German and American’s as the area switched hands numerous times through the years, as recent as WWII. Also some Museums, which we visited, back in ’07 and ’09, so we did not stop this trip.



    At a late morning stop for Cappuccino on top of one of the peaks we arrived as this was leaving.


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    It would not be my color of choice. There is a lot of strange auto colors in the area, on some very expensive cars, a bunch of flat black, flat OD green and flat browns. They look like they forgot to put the color coat on, after applying primer! Don’t get it myself, but to each his own.

    Arrived at our next hotel a little late, and had a great view from our room, that is Switzerland on the other side of the valley.



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    #8
  9. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Thursday 9/6
    Still under a cool hazy sky, but dry. We started out riding some very small local roads that meandered through wooded areas and pastures. Although the roads can be rough and are not really conducive to spirited riding, they do offer a real view of the region and life off the beaten path.

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    The wife and I were joined by another rider, I meet in ’07, on an Alps tour, and this was his 3<sup>rd</sup> MC trip in Europe. After stopping to fuel up, I hear the other bike popping and spitting. Immediately I suspected a big Oops, I suspected he filled with Diesel!!



    Now this may seem silly and stupid, but in Europe, where most of the cars are diesel, almost all pumps dispense both “sans plumb” and “gasoil” there is no color coding, and unlike the US, the nozzles are the same size, names like Shell V-Power, apply to both too. It must be fairly common, because many stations have a BIG metal plate on the back of the handle that says DIESEL!



    So I keep moving until I spot a garage, as I know if he stopped, it would by iffy if his bike restarted. We pulled in and looked in the tank, sure enough it smelled a little like diesel, I took out my siphon hose and dipped it in the tank, then put a drop on the warm valve cover where it did NOT evaporate instantly…..sure enough “gasoil”. He was greeted by a young mechanic and communicated his problem, they had him roll the bike up to one of the bays and the kid showed up with a bucket and 12v pump to drain the tank. He refilled with “sans plumb” and after grinding the starter for a bit, the bike sputtered spit, popped and finally fired. He asked what he owed them, and they said nothing! He pitched the kid some cash, which he seemed surprised to get, but accepted. All in all just a 45 minute delay and back on the road.


    We stopped for a nice lunch along a lake, the fish and soup was good!


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    Still plagued by overcast and hazy skies that would do the Blue Ridge proud, no picks of the day. I promise I will make up for it as we move along.



    Our Hotel was on Lac d’Annecy, purported to be the cleanest lake in the Alps.



    Sunset at the Hotel.


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    #9
  10. moto rrad

    moto rrad ADV n00b

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    Great photography, great roads! :clap

    Can I ask.. appears you are using HDR photography.. true? Just curious as to your camera, and what "HDR program" you are using? Thank you!

    cheers,
    Stu
    #10
  11. bonzodg

    bonzodg 24/7 B-road hooner

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    Thankyou MASSIVELY for giving the viewer the option of hearing the real time sounds.
    Riding's absolutely about being in the atmos of where you are.
    I'm enjoying the videos SO much without some lamebrain's idea of 'music' to have to mute!

    (I'd like to know specifics about the camera too please)

    Wonderful stuff altogether,
    good luck!
    #11
  12. Wildman

    Wildman In my castle

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    Probably one of the Lindt family. Get it now?

    Oh, and nice pics.
    #12
  13. MikJogg

    MikJogg Weekend Adventurer

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    Great report and pics.

    I like the vosges too (just an hour from my home),more than the blackforest-because of the nice small roads and less traffic than here.

    Oh,and i like the brown bugatti,it looks like my favorite chocolat :drif
    #13
  14. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Just a few have been HDR, using photomatix, All have been run through Lightroom, in bulk, to enhance clarity. The profile is best for scenery, but personally I am not thrilled with the results on some, but I haven't had time to do the 900 photos individually.

    Stay tuned, some simply breathtaking scenery to come.

    BTW, most were from a Nikon 5100, using a 18-250 sigma lens, some are using a 10-20 sigma.
    #14
  15. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    I love chocolate too, but not for a car color. You are lucky to have the great roads on the area, that close, I would move to Europe in a minute if it were not for family
    #15
  16. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Friday 9/7

    Today would be a round trip, as we stay on the shores of Lac D’Annecy again tonight. We came in from the North and West, crossing the Swiss/France Boarder 5 times, would be heading to the S when we leave. So the wife and I decided to head out to the NE on small roads, along the Swiss/Italy/French borders.

    We started out on the small Col de Bluffy, which is a popular bicycling road, but not quite Tour de France caliber, the next climb was the Col de la Colombiere, which has been part of the Tour 20 times since 1960.

    The climb from the West is interesting and scenic, but like most of the Rockies, not really challenging for a corner fanatic. We stopped for a few pics at the top and headed down the East side, a much more entertaining road.


    Another vid, some find boring, some interesting, so your choice. Switch to HD if you have the speed, they look much better.

    A ride down E side of Col de la Colombeire.


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    Heading up Plan de Saleve:

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    Still had hazy morning skies as we headed up Col de la Colombiere


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    View NE from top of Colombiere:


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    We were headed toward what looked like a great bunch or roads near the Swiss border, the Col de Joux (Plane and Verte) and the Col’s de la Ramez, Savoliere, and l’encrenaz. You can imagine my disappointment when we rolled to the base of de Joux I started to see some professional rally cars. Fearing my playground for the day was closed for a race, I headed up anyway, sure enough no ride to the top today.

    Not knowing where the start was, I headed west, hoping to at least pick up part of the loop, but no dice. It was all closed off.
    So we meandered back, and decided to ride some small roads that again looked interesting, and found some great pavement with little traffic.

    Afternoon haze back at the top of Plan de Saleve


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    Later skies cleared a little, as we headed over Col du Collet and Col des Glieres, one of many small dirt roads we would ride on this trip. The more I ride the more I seem to gravitate to the small dirt roads.



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    We got back late afternoon and enjoyed a couple of beverages under the shade trees overlooking the lake.
    #16
  17. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Saturday 9/8


    Yea, it is a weekend, but by traveling this late in the season, traffic was a non-issue.



    Today&#8217;s ride was up and down and up again! Eight Cols (passes) on the agenda today. Many if not all have been part of the Tour de France Cols&#8217; Forclaz, Tamie, Madeleine, Glandon, d&#8217;Huez, Serenne, Lautaret and d&#8217;Izoard


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    LOTS of pictures today, not only did the weather clear, the scenery was phenomenal!



    We decided to ride with a couple of other solo riders today, or should I say they decided to follow us. Up and over the first 2 passes, it was getting time for a break, and when Pussy beckons, it is a no brainer!


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    Stopped here for a nice cappuccino



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    The town is on a dead end road, so the streets offer lots of room to play and beautiful views


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    After a nice break we were off again, the high passes put you above the tree line, and the landscape is somewhat stark at the top.
    Col de la Madeleine


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    Up Col du Glandon


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    We stopped for Lunch atop Glandon, and ate on the terrace with this view


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    A nice plate of Pasta and bread, and we were off again!


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    Up the L&#8217;Alpe d&#8217;Huez, a famous Tour de France stage, where there have been estimates of over a million spectators! Luckily they all went home and we had the place almost to ourselves.

    Than down the back side Col de Sarenne, much rougher and narrower, but beautiful landscape.

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    We were running a little long today, the GPS calculated we would make it just in time for dinner, so we contemplated for about 2 seconds, whether to take the direct route, or the high twisty one, you can guess which one won.



    The view from the top of the Col d&#8217;Izoard was worth the risk of having to go to bed with just dessert.



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    We got into the hotel to find dinner was moved later, so time for a glass of wine and shower, before another wonderful meal, and more wine
    The view from our room.



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    #17
  18. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    OK here is a video from 9/8. Some people like them, others find them equivalent to watching paint dry. BUT, they do give you the best feel for what the riding is like, even though the camera has a tendency to straighten out the curves, my average speed was about 55 km/hr (34 mph)

    This was my first attempt at helmet mounted vids, I got a lot of wind noise, which is annoying, but music is too IMHO, so if you just barely turn the sound on, you do get a little feel for the ride, just with a noisy helmet and no ear plugs.

    If you have the speed, watch in HD too, This is heading up the north ramp of Col de la Madeleine


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    #18
  19. bonzodg

    bonzodg 24/7 B-road hooner

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    Bloody lovely!
    The helmet mount gives such a good feel for the way you ride and read the road.
    Massively enjoying the spirited ride and another YAY for the real sound!
    My movie has an incessant roar of wind noise,thinking of taping over the mike.....
    What's the spec of the camera please?
    (and,cos I'm techno-thick,how do I get HD?)
    Loving this,many thanks
    Lorenz
    #19
  20. enduro0125

    enduro0125 Sticks and Stones™..

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    I know where I'm going next year!
    #20