Europe 2013 - 13 day loop through the Dolomites, Alps and Vercors

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Krime, Jun 7, 2014.

  1. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

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    It wasn't long after returning from our first European adventure to the Alps in September of 2012 - See: Europe - 9 Countries in 10 Days (From England to the Alps and Back) - before my then girlfriend (now wife :D) started planning our next, longer, and even more incredible trip that we'd set out for one year later in September of 2013. A new itinerary + another rider, my old man (as they say), would join in the adventure!

    This time around, it was all about planning an awesome loop around the Alps. For that, we'd need to find a great city near the Alps with a good deal on two adventure bike rentals, and the helpful advice of fellow ADV riders for the best routes to take. Munich, Germany would fit the bill perfectly and adding the festivities of Octoberfest to the end of our trip, and two awesome Triumphs (An Explorer XC and an 800 XC), made it a no brainer.


    The Route:

    We'd take off from Munich, Germany and head through the Alps, passing through the Dolomites in Italy, which would result in a rider down and a broken foot on Day 2. But that wouldn't stop us, we'd make our way (via the Alps) to the our furthest point West - the beautiful gorges/cliff-side roads in the Vercors of France. From there we'd continue back to the Route Des Grande Alps and then head back East towards Munich, in what would be THE best ride we've had yet (excluding the rider down part of course)! The loop was about 3,200km total.


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    The Riders:

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    Megan and yours truly, me (Erik) on the Explorer XC.


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    My dad, John on the matching explorer 800 XC.


    Some Preview Photos:

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    We were well equipped with 2 action cameras (mounted front and back) that would capture the action of each days ride, and my Nikon DSLR. Stay tuned for a heck of a lot of pics and our daily ride videos!

    :clap
    #1
  2. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    Subscribed!:clap
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  3. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

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    Day 1: Munich, Germany to Arabba, Italy

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    Click HERE for a more detailed view of our GPS tracks in Google Maps.


    We've got a long day planned for our first leg of the trip, we're heading from Munich, through Austria and landing in the Dolomites for the night. We'd been told the Dolomites would be a highlight of our trip, and having been so close by last year (visiting Stelvio Pass), we were stoked to be heading there!


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    Nothing like starting the morning packing on the showroom floor of a Triumph dealership. We got a few puzzled looks. :lol3


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    Out front our XC's are loaded up, pointed in the right direction, and ready to go!


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    First stop after the long run down the Autobahn and hitting some pretty heavy traffic. Best McDonald's with a view I've seen yet - Somehow they're not quite the same back home. ;)


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    Arriving in a small town at the edge of Austria.


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    The mandatory 'Megan with flowers' pic of the day. ;)


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    Stopping to take off some layers in the warm weather. Perfect weather for our first day out.


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    Gassing up in Innsbruck, Austria before heading down the Brenner Pass.


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    A quick pitstop along the way.


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    Riding the Brenner Pass towards the Dolomites.


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    Our favourite part of the ride so far, following the winding river road as we enter Italy.


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    Arriving in the Dolomites, we pass through Corvara, Italy.


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    The sun's setting, it's getting dark and Corvara is so beautiful at this point I'm thinking we should have stayed here for the night!


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    But then we arrive in the mountains of Arabba, and looking down at the town we know we've stopped at a great place for the night.

    As we rode down, we'd arrive in the central part of town to find that the main road was closed off for a cycling race the next morning. Nevertheless, we'd find our own detour (after a couple attempts) and arrive at our hotel for a much later than planned check-in - what else is new? It seems to be a reoccurring trend almost every day on a trip like this. :lol3


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    We'd head to the one restaurant in town that was still open and have our first taste of Italy - pizza and wine.

    Afterwards, it was to the bar by our hotel before calling it a night. There's always something awesome about winding down in a foreign and small town after your first day out on the road, and Arabba was the perfect place for it. We were loving the little we'd seen so far of the Dolomites, and we're looking forward to a full day of exploring more of this incredible part of the world tomorrow! :nod


    Day 1 riding video:

    <iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/97654398?color=4cbfed" width="1024" height="575" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #3
  4. Bongolia

    Bongolia stop acting

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    :thumb

    :lurk
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  5. Armyguy

    Armyguy Adventurer

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    :thumb:thumb Subscribed. Looking forward to more.
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  6. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    What body/lens(es) did you pack? I find that the hassle of unpacking/repacking my D800 causes me to just skip a lot of shots. I now travel with my AW100 P&S hanging from my neck. Getting lazy in my old age.
    #6
  7. petka

    petka Adventurer

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    Nice views

    Sent from my HTC Desire X using Tapatalk
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  8. Big Lee

    Big Lee Been here awhile

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    Some great views there :evil reminds me of my trip down that part last year :D
    #8
  9. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

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    Day 2: Arabba, Italy to Nova Ponente, Italy (The Dolomites)

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    Click HERE for a more detailed view of our GPS tracks in Google Maps.


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    Waking up to a beautiful view out the window.


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    Heading back to our room after breakfast, getting ready to suit up and head out.


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    Hitting the road with overcast skies, but no rain just yet.


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    Looking back Arabba in the distance.


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    Officials stop traffic for the approaching cyclists racing.


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    After a good 30 minute wait, racers begin to pass by the narrow streets.


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    The rain begins and we stop to suit up.


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    Looking up at the Falzarego Pass.


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    The views of the summit.


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    Looking back at the Falzarego summit as we work our way down the mountain.


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    Next up, the beautiful Giau Pass.


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    Reaching the summit, the clouds roll in heavy on the other side of the mountain.


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    Passing through the dense clouds during our descent, Megan spots a heard of sheep.


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    Getting under the clouds again visibility improves enough to get some more shots in.


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    Looking back between the valley.


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    Stopping in the heavy rain for more sheep pics!


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    Looking towards the next climb ahead, the Fedaia Pass.


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    Stopping at Lake Fedaia to take in the scene.


    From here we'd ride on through the ever narrowing roads, and tighter corners of the italian mountains. The roads would get more and more remote and constantly transition between wet and dry, and just when we're getting into a brisk and steady rhythm&#8230; disaster strikes!

    Wrapping one of the winding corners, the road is partially wet, but nothing serious&#8230; out of nowhere my front begins to wash out and I get on the gas to throttle out, countering the nose dive and evening the bike out. The bike goes into a full drift - the longest drift I've ever been on in my 12 years of street riding (and I ride a superbike back home with my share of drifts!). Megan's screaming as the bike's weaving in and out of the drift, passing an oncoming car in the process! :eek1

    The bike straightens out and I can hear Megan's sigh of relief that it's all over and we've managed to kept the bike rubber side down. I hit the Sena headset to warn my dad who's following behind us, and just as I do I look in the rear-view mirror and see him on the ground sliding across the asphalt! It's almost surreal, I can't believe it just happened! We jump off the bike and run to his aid. His foot is in a lot of pain as he gets up and hobbles towards the bike. We get the bike upright as quick as possible and off to the side of the road to avoid another accident with oncoming vehicles coming around the blind, slippery corner.

    As we lift the bike up, there's a big oil spill around the bike on the asphalt. We weren't sure if it was coming from the bike, but fortunately it wasn't. Looking through the bend the entire corner was smothered in a heavy coat of oil. How Megan and I managed to stay on two wheels, I have no clue!

    None of it was caught on video, and with our adrenaline going, I didn't get any pics in either. The damage is relatively minimal - the side-case took the brunt of the damage, but the front brake lever broke clean off&#8230; which was not a good scenario. My dad would get back on and ride through the the wet mountain roads with only a rear brake&#8230; Thank God for our Sena headsets, I'd travel a good distance ahead of him and give him a heads up when he needs to slow down well in advance.

    We had another 50-60km or so originally planned for the day, but we desperately needed to find the first hotel we could. We were in such a secluded area of the mountains it felt like it would be a good while until we passed by anything. Fortunately it wasn't too long before we passed by a hotel and restaurant about 10 km's in&#8230; the parking lot filled to the brim with motorcycles - perfect!

    We stop and find out there's no rooms available at the Mondschein hotel, but there's a small pension close-by that has a shuttle service to and from this hotel for dinner. Perfect timing, the shuttle driver is at the restaurant and he generously offers for us to follow his van to his Pension - Pensione Villa Mahlknecht.

    We arrive at Mahlknect and there's no room large enough to sleep 3, so two fellow riders were generous enough to give up their room for us (given the situation). Thank you again if you're reading this! ;)


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    Arriving back at the Mondschein hotel for dinner in Nova Ponente, via the shuttle.


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    A feast awaits us after a looooong day. Lots of wine was consumed that night, most of it going to dad of course. :D


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    Everyone is in good spirits considering. Despite the mishap, and the rain, the Dolomites were incredible. The priority for tomorrow (besides the hospital, which dad refused) was to find the closest Triumph dealership to get a replacement brake lever. Over dinner, I found that Bolzano had the part in stock, so instead of heading south as previously planned, we'd make a detour and head north to Bolzano first thing in the morning.


    Day 2 riding video:
    A wet, but awesome ride through the Italian Dolomites.

    <iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/97660510?color=4cbfed" width="1024" height="576" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #9
  10. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Historical side note. What appears to be garden variety Talus slopes on the Falzarego are, in large part, mining spoils from WW1 tunneling operations.

    Bummer about your Dad - diesel spills are more common than they should be.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
    #10
  11. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

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    I brought my D600 with a my kit Nikkor 24-85mm f2.5-4.5 VR lens as a general all rounder. Left my 24-70 f2.8 at home as that thing is huge and heavy. Still though, it was a bit of a nuisance as you say - had to bring my tank bag along or there's no way it would have worked out.
    #11
  12. Riteris

    Riteris Dessert Runner

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    I am sorry for the reason you had to go to Bolzano but it is a neat little town... worth a visit!
    #12
  13. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

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    Very cool, keep these historical side notes coming please. I find I'm learning more about the places we were through Wikipedia and elsewhere now that I'm back, and retracing our steps. Would have been good to learn more about them pre-trip but there's just not enough hours in the day. ;)
    #13
  14. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

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    We found the same! Definitely a nice surprise.
    #14
  15. Cooltours

    Cooltours Rider of passion

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    Great report! I'm in!
    Very nice view-guiding on 2:08
    "Bienvenuti ad Arabba" can make it to the frontpage!
    A bit too many HDR or reworked pics in my opinion.
    Most definitely it was well worth the wait for this report for sure:-) Thanks for posting!
    #15
  16. dannyboy57

    dannyboy57 n00b

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    Fantastic.
    Beautiful views.
    Keep em coming.
    #16
  17. wsmc831

    wsmc831 Been here awhile

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    Did a similar trip last August, nice to see some spots I recognize.
    #17
  18. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

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    Appreciate the compliments! Lots more to come.


    Thanks Cooltours, my pleasure. Glad you're liking the video techniques - lots more of that in the next one. As for the pics, I hear you, it's not for everyone. There's always the video footage for that unedited look. ;)
    #18
  19. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

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    Day 3: Nova Ponente, Italy to Storo, Italy (via our Bolzano detour and Riva Del Garda)

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    Click HERE for a more detailed view of our GPS tracks in Google Maps.


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    Catching the morning sunrise.


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    An old Fiat in front of the clouds.


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    Today's route would take us on a slight detour, we'd head north to Bolzano, which would turn out to be wine country for the region - a part of the trip pre-planning we'd been looking for, but didn't find&#8230; things work out in funny ways sometimes.


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    Saying goodbye to some great people, the owners of Pensione Villa Mahlknecht. They helped us over breakfast, making calls to Bolzano to make sure we had our parts lined up.


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    Heading down the mountain in what's looking like a beautiful sunny day ahead of us.


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    30 km's later we arrive in the bike shop in Bolzano to get the clutch lever. Turns out this dealership rents out bikes, and at good rates too... the new KTM 1190 is up for grabs for those interested. We saved the brochure for a future trip... After yesterday's ride, we knew we'll be back to the Dolomites again, and Bolzano would be the perfect starting point.


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    Megan's off getting some wine route brochures, dad's finishing up his repair, and I'm taking this shot. :D


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    We explore some of Bolzano's wine country. We stop in front of Tramin Winery&#8230; Megan's winery of choice. I beautiful place with damn good wine.


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    Exploring the winery, having some flights, and then picking up a set to bring home to Canada.


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    We head South and we're back on the originally planned course - the Northern start of the Manghen Pass.


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    Continuing the climb, we pass a few wandering donkeys. The roads here are absolutely incredible - narrow, lined with the highest trees, and a mix of sweeping corners and hairpins.


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    Megan and a her new friend. :D


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    Climbing up and out of the forest.


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    Avoiding a few road blocking cows later, we reach the summit of the breathtaking Manghen Pass, and it's THE perfect place for a lunch stop. Forget lunch in Riva Del Garda as planned, this is the place to be!


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    Inspired by the menu's front cover...


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    I go and get the shot. :D


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    Looking back at the road we came in on.


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    Back on the road we head to the South side of the summit, and stop to take in the view of the way down.


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    Stopping at the bottom of the mountains, before getting on the highway to Riva Del Garda.


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    Arriving at Lake Riva Del Garda from the North (after passing through Trento).


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    We ride along the West side of the lake to take in some views before turning around and heading back towards Storo.


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    Between the mountains.


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    Stopping for this hidden gem we had programmed into our GPS thanks to MichaelJ's advice in the pre-planning stages of the trip.


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    Looking onwards to Storo, where we'll be staying for the night.


    We'd arrive in Storo and it's pretty much a ghost town, no one is walking the streets and hardly any cars can be seen driving about. We stop on the side of the road and I look through the GPS, confused after not passing even one hotel on our way into town. I women in a car pulls up beside us, and says she knows a place we should be able to stay at (it's the off season so many hotels have closed for the year) :eek1. We end up following her to her sister's place.


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    It's a beautiful newly renovated apartment, with 3 guest rooms. They're surprised to see us and they open it up just for us&#8230; The bad news: It's on the top (4th floor) with no elevators, just a steep stairwell and my dad's busted up foot. With no other options, we'd have to make do!

    Accident aside, we're loving our time in Italy so far. :clap


    Day 3 riding video:

    <iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/97730118?color=4cbfed" width="1024" height="576" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #19
  20. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    cool.. posted just in time for lunch :thumb
    #20