Springtime in the Alps

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by AlpineGuerrilla, Apr 25, 2011.

  1. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

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    Hello folks

    I've taken two trips to the Alps this months and would like to share some impressions with you. This is my first attempt at a ride report and it's propably gonna be boring. So get off my lawn!


    For those who are still here, let me begin with the first trip (April 2-3), which took me in two days through the Swiss and Italian Alps.


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    After some 100 miles on the Autobahn and a few on rural roads I was finally ready to hit the first pass this year, the Julier Pass. As this pass is an important route for the region, it's opened year round, in winter time only with snow chains of course. But I was asthonished how far away winter has already gone.

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    On the way to the Summit you ride through a village with the melodious sounding name Cunter.

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    Another beautiful name for this frozen lake: Lai da Marmorera.

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    What's better after a nice ride on the lonesome pass than a warm meal with a view? Well I thought so.

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    On my way to the next Pass was St. Moritz with an interesting pattern on the frozen lake.

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    There were still some skiers on the Bernina Pass, who looked at me like I was an alien. Well, 5°C (about 40 Fahrenheit) is too hot for skiing and ok for biking, so who want some?

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    Further on, I was able to witness some workers who detonated an avalanche and I had to wait for the road to be cleared again. The explosion echoed for multiple times from every side, amazing.

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    Crossing the border to Italy was interesting. As soon as I was in Italy, I was the slowest on the road. 20km/h speed limit because of road construction? 70km/h does it for them. Time to blend in and enjoy the warm weather.

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    Lonesome road near Porlezza at Lago di Lugano

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    Snack time and enjoying the sunset on the swiss side of Lake Lugano

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    As it was getting dark and I did not find an appropriate place for stealth camping (it's pretty crowded there) I went to an official camping spot. They did not hesitate to rip off 40 swiss francs (approx. the same in UDS) for one night. Wonder what it costs in July or August! Well forget about it and ride on.

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    Why can't I fill up my bike here? The tiny text says, you're not allowed to sit on your bike while refueling. Don't ask me why, but my fellow swiss people have a strange concept of security.

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    Some back roads between the lakes.

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    Notice the goat. There were many goats in the middle of the road and they did not bother to step back. But just as I grabbed my camera, they got scared and ran away, except for this little fella.

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    On the ferry over Lago Maggiore

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    Switchbacks on the way to the railway transport

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    Bikers (engine or not) get inside an extra wagon for the 10 minute ride.

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    This railway transport is an important way of getting north from the canton of Valais. If it weren't for this railway, you'd have to take a 150 miles detour around the mountain range, at least in summer time. I think it's always fun taking the train through the mountains.

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    After two days of enjoying 1100km on the road I was back home and ready for bed. Two days of riding can be worth one week of holiday.



    Stay tuned for part two, where I visit even more lakes and mountains in Italy and Switzerland.

    Cheers
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Stunning ride! Thanks for the great pics :clap

    :lurk
    #2
  3. degonzomon

    degonzomon Old school

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    Great pics, i spent some time ski touring the back country of the Bernese Oberland in 09, wow what a place :eek1. I stayed with a friend in a small town of Mullenen. i plan to be back soon armed with a bike.
    #3
  4. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am.

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    Excellent!:thumb

    Thank you for sharing.

    I'm dreaming from many miles away.
    #4
  5. Roadscum

    Roadscum Long timer

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    Excellant and Thank You! :clap Please keep it coming.

    I'm coming over on June 6th and plan two months to enjoy the roads, the food, and the people. That train ride is somthing I'd like to do!

    Regards, Paul
    #5
  6. maiden.jade

    maiden.jade Been here awhile

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    I need to make a better effort to get to Europe in the near future. Yes, very near future.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. :clap
    #6
  7. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the flowers, guys. I know I'm lucky to live an hour away from the alps.

    My second trip was on the easter weekend (April 22-25). The "big" passes were still not open, so I made a route more or less along the italian lakes.

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    A friend invited me to their family cottage for breakfast, so it started by riding with him to the canton of Schwyz. I liked it that much (especially the view), I stayed for lunch.

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    Filled with lots of meat and saucers, my trip went on. As much time has passed and I still wanted to do some miles today I did not bother to stop until I was on the Ofen Pass, which leads through the Swiss National Park. This is one of my favourite passes, as it leads through miles of uninhabited nature and is very twisty with perfect asphalt. What a good start!

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    A few meters after the italian border

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    Vine watering in the Vinschgau Valley, a welcomed refreshing. The temperatures climbed from about 5°C (41F) on the Pass to 26°C (79F).

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    Next stop: Gampen Pass. The sun was already setting and I had the road all for myself.

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    I couldn't stop riding and I did not find an open store to buy me dinner, too bad. Luckily, some flower store was still open (wtf?) and they sold apples and bananas. So my dinner consisted of apples and bananas plus a Snickers I still had in my pockets. Stealth camping between vine and forest.

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    I got up early and rode some small Pass, again all for myself. I can imagine how full it is here in summer time or on daytime. My stomach thought it would be a good idea to get me some breakfast and the bike was thirsty too. So I went on the Auto Strada for a short time to go to a gas station with shop. I was surprised how good the sandwich and the coffee was - I guess thats Italy. Where else do you get delicious fresh food in gas shops?

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    Further on, I stopped to eat the last remaining banana.

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    And on to the Kaiserjägerstrasse (roughly: road of the emperors hunters) or Strada dell' Alpini in italian. This road was built in the late 19th century to supply the forces along the Austria-Hungarian/Italian Border. And you wouldn't believe there's a road if you stood at the foot of the mountain. Incredible road!

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    This next Pass (Passo della Borcola) was officialy still closed, and there was still snow and debris left on the street. However, that means more lonesome road for me. For miles I haven't seen anyone on this road from nowhere, through nowhere and to nowhere.
    (The picture below was chosen as picture of the day on bikepics, see see here)

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    On the next Pass, which was closed too, there were some workers clearing the road from some trees. They were so kind to make a small gap for me to pass through.

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    Beautiful and twisty road through a canyon

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    Again some Passes, where I rode into the clouds and got a little bit wet. The downside was, I couldn't see Lake Garda from up here. Maybe next time.

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    Finally arriving at Lake Garda I ate a delicious salad

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    Many miles and twisties later I arrived at a camping at Lago d'Idro which featured a heated swimming pool and a restaurant with a stuffed Idontknow with two penises.

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    Reading a good book (Brave New World) with this view. And of course the occassional revving of two stroke motorcycles on the other side of the lake.

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    Breakfast view.

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    Lago d'Iseo with the island Monte Isola

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    Sleepy backroads with all the churches chiming for easter, as it was easter sunday.

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    Taking my meal in a restaurant with lots of kind people celebrating easter. We talked a lot, but we did not understand each other that good. Well, if was fun anyways.

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    After the next hill, there was a rather heavy storm raging. The sun dried me after the next Pass. There was a lot of rain announced for this weekend on the weather forecast, but this was the only time I really got wet. Good thing the storms are stopped by the mountain ranges.


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    My last salad, now it's time to head home.

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    I'll soon upload a video report of this trip as I had the GO PRO with me. So check back here if you're intersted.:1drink



    Cheers
    #7
  8. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

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    Thanks for the photos AG. I've been lusting for a return trip, perhaps in '12.
    I was also lucky enough to catch a few passes that were closed by snow (gesperrt). Doesn't get much better than being alone on an Alpine road.
    Jim
    #8
  9. Buzzo

    Buzzo Adventurer

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    Thank you very much for the report and great photos. I’m going to be riding some of the Alps for the first time starting in the middle of June for a month. I’m taking my camping gear and have been wondering if I was wasting my time and it would be to cold. You’ve made me a lot happier for making the decision and carrying all the extra gear. Did you camp all the way? I have no idea about camping facilities, is there a lot of camp grounds.

    Cheers Steve
    #9
  10. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

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    Yeah I always sleep in the tent. When I started doing multi-day rides, it was just because I couldn't afford to stay in hotels. But I somehow never had to urge to change this habit.

    There are plenty of campgrounds in the Alps, but you should stick to the tourist regions. There are always campgrounds along the lakes. If you want to stealth camp, do what the name says, be stealthy.
    #10
  11. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv

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    Rlly nice pics! think I'll do a trip there too. Are there a lot of people during sommer? or should I wait till next year and go during eastern holidays?
    can you legaly sleep with your tent on the border of the road or do you have to pay one of those expensive camping locations?

    Tyvm!
    #11
  12. manshoon

    manshoon Been here awhile

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    Very Cool
    #12
  13. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    :clap As always, the Alps are breathtaking... Thanks for the write-up!
    #13
  14. degonzomon

    degonzomon Old school

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    Great pics keep them coming, between the mountain views and the food shots it doesn't get much better. it helps motivate me for a return trip out there
    #14
  15. daveg

    daveg no longer homeless

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    Impressive stealth camping! I'm traveling around Switzerland right now but left my camping gear up in northern Germany because I'd rather stay at a hostel than pay big $$$ to camp. It is great to see you find a place to do it.

    I wonder what the local response would be if they found you. How laid back are the swiss with property? I know alot of places in Texas the land owners would be pissed.
    #15
  16. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

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    It seems there are a lot of you interested in stealth camping in the Alps. Guess I'll share some experiences with you.

    The "big" and well known passes and the tourist regions of course are pretty crowded in July and the first part of August. I think the best time in the alps is from mid-August to mid-September. But if you're unlucky, the first onset of winter could already be in September. If you're lucky, you'll have a lot of lonesome roads in great scenery with beautiful colors. But it could already get pretty cold on the passes.
    Wild camping is technically forbidden, but it depends on the country and the region. I have never been seen by an official, but I guess they're just not looking out for you.
    I imagine the bigger "problem" could be the locals if you're camping in their back yard or somewhere near.

    Here's the experience I have from about 20-25 overnight stays in the wild so far:
    France for instance is pretty laid back, I go as far as to just build up my tent near the road (backroads or something similar of course), nobody seems to mind. Just keep out of the national parks!
    Switzerland is also not that big of a problem, but it's more or less difficult to find a good spot. I have asked a farmer once if I could sleep on his field and he denied. But that was just because there was fresh manure on it. :arg He went on to show me a nice place and surprised me with some fresh milk and eggs in the morning, that was fantastic. :clap Anyway, keep away from touristy regions like Lucerne, the Lakes and such.
    I've heard some horror stories from Italy with expensive fines ranging to hundreds of Euros, but I can't confirm that.
    Camping-wise, Austria and Slovenija are a white spot on my map, sorry.

    If I should ever have contact with an official, here's my excuse: "Sorry sir, I was just tired and the campground was full. It was just too unsafe to ride on. I'm really sorry. (puppyface)" Have to test that sometime. :D

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    That's propably my worst choice for a place to stealth camp so far (it's in Italy tho). At about 6 AM I woke up to the sound of a tractor driving past me. I immediately got up and packed my shit. A few minutes later, the farmer came bake and watered the vine a few meters away. I just smiled and waved to him and he did the same. It was propably luck that he did not seem to mind, I can imagine not every farmer likes having people in his vine! It would have propably been more of a problem in Switzerland. I was just tired, it was getting dark and there was no better place around. You should be more cautious than I was. ;-) Generally speaking, you should be fine with common sense and the usual stealth camping practices.

    Oh, one last thing could be of importance, especially to the US peeps here: don't ride to spots on paths that are banned for motorised traffic. That could be more of an issue than your tent.
    #16
  17. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

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    Those were my favourite camp sites so far:

    Camping at the end of the road in Valle Onsernone. The stream marks the border to Italy. On the other side of it is an abandoned hotel with a still intact thermal spring. That's my buddy and behind him on the right is my old mule, a Honda CM 125 C.

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    Camping on the Julierpass last August.

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    This is above Walensee and the spot where the farmer brought us breakfast the other day.:clap

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    #17
  18. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

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    Ok, I finally finished the promised video of my tour. :1drink I tried to mix different perspectives, pictures and timelapses together, hope you like it.

    First, there's a scary clip when a KTM rider couldn't stay on his side of the road.

    <iframe width="640" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/M7ekZ2HLhlo?rel=0&amp;hd=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


    And the full movie here:

    <iframe width="640" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/1hacJ5KgkVk?rel=0&amp;hd=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #18
  19. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    :clap:clap

    Great video!!
    #19
  20. timmie415

    timmie415 n00b poster but not rider

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    You have a little slice of heaven to ride in there my friend. Here in Northern California is not bad but the grass is always greener on your side of the pond. Although that video of the biker on your side of the motorway leaves something to be desired. I bet your heart skipped a couple of beats with that.

    Thanks for sharing.
    -tim
    #20