Newbie begging for help on the first adventure, going from London to Cannes.

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by Usernumbernine, May 15, 2013.

  1. Usernumbernine

    Usernumbernine Adventurer

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    @slim-line tonic - The plan was never to do it in one day. I mean, god I'd be scared to do it in 3 even. Thanks for the advice though. I'm planing for around 400 miles per day right now, so I have time to see things. Am also planing to leave very early every day. Around 7ish.


    @RTLover - Man, I am now really doing this by myself and I've made a bit of a mad change to one bit of the route and am planning to do it in either 5 300 miles days or 4 400 miles days. The main change is going down from zurich to try the stelvio pass before heading to andermatt. Also nice to put my feet in Austria for an hour or so. I have no knowledge at all of the region. Do think it's worth adding a day for that?

    here is how it looks: http://goo.gl/JgMq2

    Thanks guys, this whole thing of planning the route is super time consuming and your help has been a huge part of it. I'm really enjoying it though. Really can't understand why I wasn't doing this before.

    Anyway. Cheers one more time for all the help! :freaky
    #21
  2. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    I won't tell you not to do it, I'll just try to shave off the bits that will needlessly cost you time and mileage or don't have much riding pleasure.

    Stelvio is an icon. Why, I don't know. IMO, it isn't one of the best passes to ride, perhaps with the exception of the southbound road to Bormio. There are two approaches from the north. Lemmie tell you that S38 is tricky, more so with a big bike. There are 48 very tight and poor visibility hairpins on a poor surface, oncoming traffic. The other approach is from Mustair. Shorter but still with a dozen or more hairpins. This does not diminish your claim to having conquered the hill. :D

    Your map has you going from Davos to Nauders and then south to S38. My suggestion is to go through Zernez and take the 28 through the very nice Ofenpass to Mustair and up to the pass from there or on down to the S38 for the other approach.

    Julierpass is the perfect section to test your lean angles at speed, but only to the legal limit of course.

    I take the mileage/time figures on any map as a minumum since they obviously can't predict weather, don't include stops, etc.

    The advantage of riding solo/two-up is that you get to set the pace.

    Cheers
    #22
  3. xs904

    xs904 Ready to scramble.

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    Well, all I can say is what a fantastic way to run your new bike in!

    Advice wise, don't rush and try to keep to deadlines, it spoils the fun. If you see something and want to stop then stop.
    Eating out, the French stick strictly to lunch times. If you haven't stopped by 1pm, you're going to struggle to find anywhere open. That said, also look where the locals eat (lots of cars outside at lunch time), it will be cheap and good food. We found the restaurant's at railway stations usually excellent.

    Fuel stations, not all except UK cards, and beware that almost everything is closed on Sunday in France.

    Oh and post some photos when you get back.

    Enjoy the trip.

    Rob.
    #23
  4. Usernumbernine

    Usernumbernine Adventurer

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    With massive Help from RTLover this is the route so far:

    http://goo.gl/0lzlk

    I just need to refine the route from points A to B and points E to F as those are just main roads with no planned interesting route yet. So if any kind soul out there have any suggestions, it would be incredibly valuable! :D

    @XS904 — Thanks mate. Advice duly noted. The trip at this point is more important to me than the stuff I'll be doing in Cannes. Thanks for the tip on the cash, didn't think about that and I never normally carry cash around. Since I now plan to start the days quite early (6-7 am) I think if I don't stop by 1pm I will probably starve!

    Another thing I need to start thinking about is how to document the trip. :deal
    #24
  5. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    If I were planning A-B, I'd take the same route as you've laid out. Why? Because I'd want to cover that segment as quickly as possible. IMO, the north of France and the west of Belgium are rather boring. I'd want to bank some miles straight away to spend later on in the trip. French motorways are predominately toll, whereas Belgium's are free. As for the Lux-Baden leg, I haven't done your route but I've done the A31/A4 in France more times than I ever wanted. It's mind numbing most of the way.

    From Diekirch, you can hook up to the route 10 just to the east, which follows a river to near Trier. It would likely be slow going because of the time of year but it's worth the detour. My minimum knowledge of that area of Germany is the autobahns. :D

    XS904 brought up some practical info. As for credit/debit cards, in France, if you don't have one for a French bank, you'll generally be blocked out at automated pumps. Along the autoroutes, stations are 24/7 and no problem with cards. There are frequent service areas, petrol, food, etc. In towns of any size you can usually find some sort of eatery open but not all day. Your ATM card should work at French banks' ATMs. Good idea to have some euros handy. Accepted in Switzerland in many tourist areas, hotel, restaurants, but always wise to have some Swiss francs as well for incidentals.

    Just a note about highway numbers in Europe if you're not familiar. Especially on the motorways, you'll see numbers beginning with 'E' and 'A' on the same roads. 'E' designates European-wide roads.

    Document the trip? Pics, pics, pics. Vids if you have a GoPro or similar. Don't get trapped by the 'gotta keep rolling, no time for pics' mantra. If you see something, stop. Before you collapse in the evening, make some notes on the map or in a note book because the trip isn't easy to keep straight in your head.
    #25
  6. catweasel67

    catweasel67 RD04

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    Live and learn eh :1drinkI never knew what monoposto meant, I do now :)
    #26
  7. Usernumbernine

    Usernumbernine Adventurer

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    Heya. News on the trip. It all seems to be going according to plan, in no small part due to your help.

    I'm now just a bit scared with the way I have created my GPS file and I don't know if I am doing this right. I've put the whole thing in one long route with loads of waypoints and I don't know if this is the best way of doing this. I'm quite worried about it actually.

    Anyone experience willing to take a look at this GPX file and tell me if this is ok?

    File is here: http://we.tl/4HRnLUZVgc

    Thanks again a lot for the help.

    Hopefully this will happen.

    #9
    #27
  8. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    The highest pass in the Alps with competing Wurst Men at the top? :evil

    I do agree with your overall evaluation - I don't mind going down the Trafoi side, but coming up is a major PITA.

    OTOH, being in the Alps on a bike and not visiting the Stelvio is like being a Catholic in Rome and not visiting the Vatican. It's just something that HAS to be done :D
    #28
  9. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    I'm coming into this a bit late.

    The GPX loaded into Microsoft's AutoRoute nicely - 2,524.6 kms over 5 days, per AutoRoute. Busy.

    Below is a screen capture of my GPS from 2011, and is pretty much average compared to prior years - the Moving Average is the critical figure here and included about 500~600 kms of Autobahn.

    I tend to do short days - leisurely breakfast and early stops, but that doesn't change the average speeds. The general consensus (over on alpineroads.com) is that 250~300 KMS/day in the Alps is a good day's ride. You'll be primarily on main roads, so that figure could kick up to 4~500kms/day comfortably. If you have booked your hotels along the route, that lets you do a longer day without wondering if you'll find a place to sleep that night.

    Consider that on backroads (i.e. non-autoroute) will have you going through a lot of towns with their commensurate low speed limits.

    You're spending a lot of time in Switzerland. Switzerland is lovely, but has low speed limits overall. Which the local constabulary be more than happy will point out. Visa/Mastercard accepted.

    I'm not sure how your schedules are, but since you have an event in Cannes, I'd take a quicker direct route down, and take a more leisurely trip back.

    [​IMG]

    Going back to one of RT_Lover's posts, I'd be VERY tempted to take a right at Santa Maria Val Mustair (just before your point #38) and go over the Umbrail Pass and then on up to the Stelvio, doubling back to Bormio from the top (after the mandatory Wurst (see my previous post)).

    I say this because (a) you're on a new-to-you bike and are carrying a pillion - another new experience. Climbing the uphill right hairpins on the Trafoi side can be difficult, especially with oncoming downhill traffic. On the plus side is that you'll be on a GS which has lots of low-end grunt and fairly quick steering.
    #29
  10. Usernumbernine

    Usernumbernine Adventurer

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    Hey MichaelJ,

    Amazing response. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this and for looking at the GPX file.

    A few things have changed for other people have pointed out to the same things you did.

    I'm not taking a pillion passenger anymore (that was a big lapse of judgement which has been fixed)

    The trip will now happen over 7 days. I'll leave London on the 13th in the morning. Always starting early.

    Leg 1 - London to Han-Sur-Lesse

    Leg 2 - Han-sur-lesse to Ettlingen (where I will stop at a BMW dealership for my bikes first service)

    Leg 3 - Ettlingen to Davos (short day due to service in the morning and in preparation for the next couple of days in the alps)

    Leg 4 - Davos to Andermatt through the stelvio

    Leg 5 - Andermatt to Chamonix

    Leg 6 - Chamonix to Grenoble

    Leg 7 - Grenoble to Cannes

    I haven't booked any hotels as I'm trying to keep some flexibility but that was a decision taken without much consideration, should I reconsider this? What's your opinion?

    As I don't know the stelvio region well at all I'm trying to understand your directions to plot it on google plus before fiddling with the route on the gps but I am not really sure about what you meant. I imagine that uphill hairpins will probably be a royal pain but if they are going to be too hard for me than maybe i should reconsider. i will try and plot this route on GMaps, see if I can manage to understand it.

    ---

    New Edit: Am I going the wrong way around the stelvio? Is it absolutely mad if I do this then? http://goo.gl/maps/t6fTu :D Really want to ride all of those hairpins :)
    #30
  11. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    You're traveling late enough in the season so that most, if not all, of the hotels will be open (they tend to take a break between the ski & moto seasons) - and early enough to be ahead of the tourist hordes. You should be good to go taking it as it comes.

    Your route in blue - highlit alternate route in yellow. My last ride up the Trafoi side was on the beast below, which really doesn't like sharp turns. I never had any problems when on a rented GS - and the fact that you're now riding solo makes it a lot easier. Also - there won't be a lot of traffic to contend with that early in the season. Bring warm gloves, though.

    [​IMG]

    Again, I was riding my old GSX1100G with the kicked out front end on my last go. You should be good to go - although the northern ramp is a lot more fun going down than up.

    The decent into Bormio is a good ride, and shouldn't be missed.

    An alternate alternate would be to take the detour above, go down the northern ramp, reverse your original route back to Santa Maria, climb the Umbrail again and then head down to Bormio on your original route.

    Puff, puff...

    If worse comes to worse, there's a good gelato shop in the center of Glorenza.

    Or so I hear... :D

    [​IMG]
    #31
  12. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    Nowadays, says the senior biker :D, finding a hotel is so much easier. I have been using http://www.booking.com/ a lot for a few years. Instead of fumbling around with maps and guide books, road signs, and sign languages, just open the smartphone and bingo! That said, I've found that train stations in decent sized towns will have, or will be close to, tourist offices, mines of good info should your phone die.

    The counter-clockwise track around Stelvio is the better one. Up and down from/to Mustair is about the same level of difficulty. By the time you get to Andermatt, you'll be glad you didn't do it the other way.

    This will be a great and wonderful ride for you. All the best!
    #32
  13. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    Bussy posted this morning about the passes of Grimsel, Furka, Susten, and Nufenen still closed. Confirmed by this site: http://www.andermatt.ch/en/news/traffic-conditions-1

    Since you're going through Andermatt to Chamonix in a few days, you should be ready for some alternatives. Looks like Furka is the only one you'll be concerned with. If the pass is closed, you can take the train from Realp through the mountain to Oberwald. From there you're good to go down the valley to Martigny.

    Check here for Stelvio: http://www.alpineroads.com/passstatus.php
    #33
  14. Usernumbernine

    Usernumbernine Adventurer

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    Thanks both RTLover and MichaelJ, your advice was invaluable and the trip went exactly as planned. Every single inch of it, apart from the odd deviation I did here and there to enter some light off road sections that looked inviting and I had never done any off roading before so I was a bit eager.

    I will try and post a ride report but yes, one of the best experiences of my life. Amazing places, amazing bike, intense few days.

    I also ended up doing it by myself and it was a brilliant way to spend some alone time.
    #34
  15. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    You obviously did something wrong. :evil

    And pics - we need pics. :clap

    The great thing about traveling solo is that there's only ONE person that you have to make happy. :wink:

    One week from today and I will be in the air heading for Heidelberg and 3 mostly solo (there will be 3 days ridiing with others) weeks on my bike in the Alps. :D:D:D
    #35
  16. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    Don't ya just love it when a plan comes together? Really chuffed for you. You're a gritty guy and I'm sure there will be more rides in the future, the NEAR future even.:D
    #36
  17. catweasel67

    catweasel67 RD04

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    +1 on the comments made by others - especially about posting a RR :p

    I'm, personally, intrigued by the idea of picking up a brand new bike and heading off, almost immediately :-) . Last time I did that was 20 years ago but then it was only from Basingstoke to the Rock and Blues in Derby, nothing compared to your journey.
    #37
  18. c-m

    c-m Long timer

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    I've ridden to Cannes I few times from the UK.

    First time I took Route Napoleon which was great fun.

    The second time I took the Routes Des Grande Alps, which was also great fun.

    For cheap camping and accommodation I would recommend staying in Antibes, or even Menton for easy access to Monaco.

    Have fun. There's some great roads that way.
    #38