Looking for suggestions for a Alps tour starting in Germany

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by Rogue_Ryder, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. Rogue_Ryder

    Rogue_Ryder

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    I'll have a good 4 or 5 days or so to myself in Germany at the beginning of July. I'm planning on renting a bike from Knopf tours or a similar outfit anywhere between Frankfurt and Kaiserslautern.

    I'm put together this map https://goo.gl/maps/CqutNkzDfbB2 of roads I think would make up a good tour. I'm looking for any suggestions on routes, lodging etc. This will be my first time in this part of the world. I'm a big fan of mountain riding (I live in the Rockies) and like to visiting historical sites and viewing wildlife.

    Thanks in advance for any tips!
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  2. rosmoe

    rosmoe Been here awhile

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    If you find yourself (& you should) in Arabba, center of the Dolomites, stay at the Hotel Evaldo. I am sure MichaelJ will have a great route planned out for you. He knows the Alps !
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  3. Khabel

    Khabel Adventurer

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  4. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    Being a Francophile, I'll recommend the RDGA. Not only a great route by itself, but puts you in the centre of a great riding area. No road tolls, no special speed limits with enforcement because the local squids have spolit it for everyone. Just plenty of roads very rarely used by campers and caravans. And always more, more, more.
    Surfaces not always brilliant, but that just helps you keep the speed down to enjoy the views.

    One of the passes is the Col de la Bonnette, claimed to be the highest, paved through road, but what do statistics really matter. Last time I was there, there was a flight of golden eagles swirling about. As we rose up the mountain, we wound up above them. I think this was a late September, but it was steely bright albeit cold.

    From the two towns you mention, easy access down the A5 Autobahn towards Basle. If using the motorways in Switzerland, you do need a vignette - yes you do! But if prepared to forgo the shortest routes, then normal roads are fine.
    My preference is to turn slightly west and cut across the Jura, another, lower range. Pontarlier is an often used staging post. Then east into the Swiss Jura, very different to the more well known Alpine section. Less travelled, less busy.
    The less visited Vercors is also a nice alternative, not quite so far.
    Not sure where the "offical" start of the RDGA is, I usually vere off at Bourg St Maurice. The RDGA goes right down, almost to the Med at Nice. Lots of different, interesting, alternatives to return without retracing your steps. Lots of great little side trips too. An embarrassment of riches. If any particular road is not to your liking, then there are plenty of alternatives.
    France is easy to be a traveller in, lots of accommodation at all price ranges, lots of very decent places to eat or grab yourself superb ingredients for a picnic.
    B&B's are called Chambre d'Hote, but perhaps easiest is to get to a town or village (many is not most) with a tourist office. They exist to help you - especially in summer, there will likely be a student on language practice, so English is not a problem, they will find you somewhere, even when there is a fair or fete on and everywhere is crowded out. They have always offered to ring ahead for me - which helps, and stops the host mistakenly taking in someone else.
    Larger towns will have chain hotels, usually around the €50 or less for a triple room (in France almost all accommodation is per room, not per person. Except in Cd'H, breakfast is seldom included. I usually wander down to the local boulangerie and buy my croissant (other choices available) then take that to the cafe or bar of my choice, where I can sit outside and watch the beginnings of everyday life and bustle. Cafe's also serve beer, bars also serve coffee. Don't be too surprised to see a few guys having a glass of wine or beer first thing, its a European thing.
    Quite a few Vauban fortifications down there to explore. Earlier, just off the A5, a side trip to Neuf Brisach for one of the most complete "star" forts. Also some bits of Maginot line in the vicinity.
    The French National Motor Museum in Mulhouse - began with a warehouse full of Bugattis confiscated from Freres Schlumph, but much more now. The adjacent Railway Museum is good too.
    Sinnsheim near your start point is probably too much for your limited time frame.



    From your map - the A7 Autoroute is one of the most boring motorways in the world. I would delete that.
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  5. glitch_oz

    glitch_oz Long timer

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  6. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    For folks from afar, the Alps may look small and compact, but after a couple of weeks blitzing around day after day, and realising you have passed so many alternative routes you could have taken, and comparing your trails to what would be possible if only you had lots more time.
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  7. glitch_oz

    glitch_oz Long timer

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    It's the same with Tasmania...that tiny blob-in-the-ocean at the bottom of Oz when looking at Google maps.
    A few days will do for a loop, right?
    Hmmm...after 11 trips over 30 years totaling about 7 months of solid, everyday traveling, I've still got no problems at all with finding another 2-3 weeks worth of new stuff, places + attractions to fill another 4000km of absolutely stunning travels, food, PEOPLE!, history, vineyards and breweries, coastal landscapes and endless other things.....apart from the tracks and twisties, of course.
    When folks talk about 4 days in Tassie, I can only cringe.
    No use arguing, though....
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  8. Rogue_Ryder

    Rogue_Ryder

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    Thanks for the fantastic recommendations! Nick I will definitely be modifying my route; I want to avoid busy and boring routes as best I can.
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  9. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    Glitch's first link - impressive aren't they - has several of the roads I was thinking about.
    Start or end points in the set take in routes that include the Gorge du Verdon and Mont Ventoux (means windy, and it is).
    The Gorge du Cians, one of several cols running north south and which make a great ride, and takes you near both Entrevaux and Castellane, the kick off point towards the Gorge du Verdon and beyond.
    But really, a look at even a cheap Michelin regional map, 1:200,000 will show you the layout, and allow you to do some prioritising to suit yourself.
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  10. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    One of my favorite hotels, if not the favorite. I need to spend a couple nights there this year.

    4-5 days isn't much - you'll spend 2 of them getting to the Alps and back to Heidelberg. I've had a bike with Stefan since 2009 and it's a slog through the populated bits to the lumpy bits.

    The Autobahn, of course, will be backed up for 10 kms or so for no apparent reason other than it can. Annoying.

    Perhaps your easiest reach would be the Andermatt area in Switzerland - more than enough stuff there to keep you busy and happy for 3 days.

    Given your limited time, Arabba would be my second choice due to its greater distance (otherwise it would be #1 - one of the few places in the world where you can ride 18+ passes between breakfast and dinner).

    Forget everything you know about how many miles you can cover in a day. Plan on averaging 35MPH - unless you stick to Autobahns. And why would you want to do that?

    Now, if you had 45 days...
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  11. GvG

    GvG Been here awhile

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    What I would probably do is this https://goo.gl/maps/NYavuTMBHYp clockwise

    Slab it at first (personally I don't mind it that much the 1st day, but despise it the last day) on the free German Autobahn (Austria and Switzerland require vignettes). Then you start with the Hahntenjoch (be aware of police, it's the first year it's max 60 km/h here and the white paint is slippery even in the dry), to the Stelvio and back along some Swiss passes and through Liechtenstein (just to have been there). Then back through the Black Forest. There's some nice riding to be had there, but it's also close enough to the Autobahn if you're running out of time.
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  12. glitch_oz

    glitch_oz Long timer

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    Agreed.
    With the AlpineRoads forum being "out of action", here's a backup of some ideas of how to fill those days around Andermatt
    http://www.austouring.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6265
    (some of the gravel stuff, particularly around the St. Gotthard doesn't apply anymore as access has been closed off/ gated over the last few years).
    Maybe I'll update the thread one of those days.
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  13. FinlandThumper

    FinlandThumper Banning Snowflakes Super Moderator

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    I have done the alps before and will do them again in a few weeks. The advice of @nickguzzi is right on...they do look small and compact but you could spend your life exploring. My only advice would be that you quite honestly cannot go wrong in this region no matter which direction or route you take. Legendary riding and passes abound in every direction. I would say collect specific place advice and then decide which direction based on weather forecasts.

    Personally, I loved the loop that runs from stelvio up and over in a loop that takes in davos, st. Moritz, and the Swiss alpine park. Was jaw agape most of the ride and met a lot of friendly riders at the passes. Bernina and Fluela were highlights there as I recall. You could work that route in for example as the southernmost part of your trip.

    If you do get south enough to run stelvio, do it in the morning hours if you can because by afternoon there are a lot of people riding it, especially bicycles and it is a bit hectic. But worth the ride no matter what.

    Five days isn't enough, but I had that much time last time and have memories for a lifetime. Ride safe and have fun, no matter which way you turn you will have a great time.
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  14. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Not really out - just no HTML tags in messages - no quoting or pictures. It has slowed almost to death. Need to beat up on the Admin when I see him in July.

    +1 Some roads are better than others, but they're all great.

    And getting lost just MAY be the high point of your ride.
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  15. glitch_oz

    glitch_oz Long timer

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    The reason for the quotation marks!
    Hope, Tim can fix it.
    PHPBB is a baaaastard (that's the oz-connotation of "bastard") forum software.

    As for the OP...the only thing "wrong" is the time span of 4-5 days and a starting location that requires 2 days of back+forth commuting to get to the good stuff!
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  16. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Yeah - I noted that. But better 2-3 days than 0.

    Setting the hook, so to speak.
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  17. ErikMotoMan

    ErikMotoMan Airbag crash survivor!

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    Been hooked since 1981...
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  18. Rogue_Ryder

    Rogue_Ryder

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    Thanks for all of the replies and suggestions!!!

    Unless my prior engagement runs long, I should be picking up the bike on July 1 and returning it on July 6th (Flight back to USA from FRA on the 7th). This schedule will allow me a a little more time to ride than I had originally thought. If I can get the bike by mid day on the 1st that should give me a 5 full days of riding.

    I would love to take more time to ride, but I just did a 3 week tour in India & Nepal in March and I'm short on vacation time, and cash from a 3 week India/Nepal trip in March.
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  19. Rogue_Ryder

    Rogue_Ryder

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    Just thought I'd post an update, and say thanks again for the suggestions!

    I picked up the bike from Knopf on Saturday Morning, and was on the road in no time. Stefan gave me a handful of maps and some suggestions on routes out of Heidelberg (rode along the river and saw many castles), he recommended that I visit the German 2 wheeler and NSU museum in Neckarsulm. After the museum I slabbed it down to the Austrian border and picked up the route suggested by GvG :thumb. I made it through AUT, and into Italy and over Passo Stelvio and into Switzerland and spent the night in Silvaplana. I bailed on Switzerland this morning and headed back down into Italy (warmer and sunnier!). I rode along Lake Como this morning and then slabbed it on the Auto Starda to take Petite St. Bernard into France. Another great pass. I'm planning on hitting some more mountain roads tomorrow and eventually start making way back towards the black forest in Germany and return the bike on Thurs. Hopefully any more highway time will be limited. The handful of hours I've done was worth experiencing the variety that I have so far.


    [​IMG]
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  20. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    Sounds like you are having a great time.


    If you crossed the Petite St Bernard, then you are within riding distance of Col de la Bonnette. Reputedly the highest through road pass. Whatever, it is a great ride.
    From Bourg St Maurice you first need to do the Col du Telegraphe, the Col du Croix du Fer and the Col du Restfonde, that's all before the Bonnette.

    You could follow the Route des Grande Alps. Goes right down to the Med eventually. Then blitz back, or go part way and guesstimate where to make the turn. Most certainly worth it as you are nearly there.
    The Parcs Ecrins, Queyras and Mercantor all have fantastic roads, views, stuff like that.

    I have gone from the Med to Pontarlier easily in a day, using most of the RDGA. Sometimes adding a few side trips too. (two up, loaded for 6 weeks camping, on a touring guzzi). But make sure your have plenty of fuel.

    There are several routes you could take from there, but if you felt under time pressure, then swing west and into the Bauges Massiv then into the Jura - keeping to a northerly heading, which should be easy enough as that is the way the earth wrinkles just there. You can either avoid Switzerland entirely (I often use Pontarlier as a staging point. You can slice though Swiss Jura, which is very rural, pretty nice and no motorways or go round. Sort of heading in the direction of Basle (but avoiding it if possible - follow signs for St Louis to cross the Rhine north of the border) and straight into the Black Forest\Schwartzwald. If you are cutting it too fine the A5 Autobahn will take you to Heidelburg in three ish hours.

    Have fun.
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