Touring the alps, tell me what I've missed.

Discussion in 'Europe' started by BikeLugger, May 28, 2012.

  1. BikeLugger

    BikeLugger Been here awhile

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    Mods - Apologies if this belongs in Trip Planning, feel free to move it.


    Ok, so this is our planned route. It is most definitely a work in progress.

    [​IMG]

    See it in detail here - http://goo.gl/maps/fg9e

    I've looked at various ride reports to pick some interesting routes. I've also spent time on Best Biking Roads and some time just looking for wiggly roads on google earth and street view.

    The main focus of the trip is the Alps. Most of the way through France, Belgium and Germany is aimed at getting there quickly, except for Luxembourg (another pin on the wall atlas) and a diversion in the Black Forest. The same applies for the route back from Geneva.

    The Brief -
    We have 16 days.
    We go mid July.
    Predominately looking to camp where we can find space, but a cheap B&B/Hotel isn't out of the question.
    If time allows I'd quite like to spend a couple of days in the same spot to chill out and take in some roads without the luggage.
    My riding buddy has done the alps a few times before me, but is happy this time to just add the odd road he'd like to try.
    I've driven to the north of Italy, the south of france, etc., but never been to the continent on a bike.

    What would be great is if some of you guys could give our route the once over and if we are missing by meters an amazing spot or road say 'Woah! dudes! don't miss out on (insert awesome feature here)!"
    Extra ADV Credits* will be given for pictures/video.

    Cheers.

    *ADV Credits are non exchangeable, non transferable, have no monetary value and are a figment of the OP's imagination.
    #1
  2. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    Looks good to me. The only reaction I had to the Geneva-Dunkirk was an immediate cramp in me bum just thinking about that ride. Boring is an understatement. If you're actually going into Geneva for a look, and if you have a little extra time, I'd suggest going to Gex, France, to Morez, then to Belfort, north through the Vosges mountains between Belfort and Nancy. From there you could hook into the Ardennes again. Loads better scenery but I fully understand the tendency to be quick on the return.
    #2
  3. Riteris

    Riteris Dessert Runner

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    I have driven through some of the above mentioned areas and agree with this. The Vosges has some great looking motorcycle roads.

    The only downside is that it will take longer than the route you have currently.
    #3
  4. Otherguy

    Otherguy First World Traveler

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    #4
  5. GiorgioXT

    GiorgioXT Long timer

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    Spend more time in the Dolomites , won't be deluded.
    Cut the Lesachtal to Hermagor , not so interesting.
    #5
  6. glitch_oz

    glitch_oz ...

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    Might be a good idea to talk to the addicts then...the guys in the know.
    http://www.alpineroads.com/phpBB3/

    And get onto Michael J there !

    Your route misses about 99% of the good stuff....but who's got 20 years to spare to really ride it all? :lol3

    To give you some squared-eyes and a massive headache, check this 2500+pic !!! Ben Hur sized yarn.
    http://www.austouring.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1506

    Followed by a lousy 1200+ pics in the sequel
    http://www.austouring.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2645
    #6
  7. Flood

    Flood F5lood.

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    :nod
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  8. BikeLugger

    BikeLugger Been here awhile

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    Tell me about it, I've driven home that way a couple of times before. It never failed to bore me.

    That said, time is precious. As this trip is about covering as much of the alps as we can I'm willing to pay the price on the way home. Thanks for the info though, If plans change or when we go back I'll keep that route in mind. (We might use that as the approach and come back through Germany.....)




    I like me some chicken. Thanks for the tip, thats dinner sorted for one day!



    Yes, I've always fancied the dolomites, I love the contrast between the lush rolling alpine meadows and the stark Limestone Towers.

    The Lesachtal to Hermagor is my buddies choice, I'm happy to ride it to see a different side of the alps.


    Planning this route has been so tricky because every time I think I've joined a string of great rides I find a better one heading in the opposite direction! I'll have to go back again I guess. :evil

    When I get a free afternoon I'll have a read of that report, I glanced at it earlier and it seems to be a very comprehensive read!

    Thanks for the other forum too, I'll get busy lurking.


    Keep em coming guys. Just over a month before we set off.

    Just need to get some new pads on the rear of the bike and some new rubber.
    #8
  9. BOOTLACE

    BOOTLACE Bikie Scum.

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    Missing a lot of the Dollies.....:wink: Wouldn't take more than a cuple more days to fully explore.
    #9
  10. Ali in Austria

    Ali in Austria Been here awhile

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    Looking at your route, you pass very close to us and almost the half way point on your journey.

    If you don't fancy B&B, there is a good camp site just down the road. The Dachstein Glacier is something to experience.

    If nothing else, pop in for a beer on your way past.

    Have a look at our web site for information on the area and videos of some of the roads on our YouTube Channel. I have loads more to upload, it is finding the time.
    #10
  11. serialcee

    serialcee Adventurer

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    I've done just over a weeks riding with 3 buddies in that region. I would say from strasbourg, cut down earlier south to the Bodensee and from there drive east through Austria. And as other posters suggested, take in more from the Dolomites, they rock. Just a few pics from my trip overhere: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzCTAoQ

    If you want I can try to salvage some of our route as an garmin file... just let me know

    Last tip: we free-camped in italia near Sondrio... best night we had!
    #11
  12. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Or here, for that matter :wink:

    Thanks for the vote of confidence :D
    #12
  13. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Having been given that into by Glitch, I suppose that I'd better perform :eek1

    Look at your weather around Salzburg - the last time I was there wanting to visit the Kelstein Haus, it was so bad that the birds were walking. Needless to say, I didn't bother going up - the inside of one cloud looks very much like another. While I appreciate the historical value, the scenery is a significant component.

    My first major deviation (route-wise - we won't talk about the others here) would be to drop south after the Gross Glockner, picking up the 110 at Kotschach, going over the Passo Monte Croce (KarntenPass) down to Tolmezzo. From there, head west on the SS52 towards Ampezzo. An option would be to take the SS355 out of Villa Santina (about 8km west of Tolmezzo) a more scenic ride (IMHO). Both roads come together at Santo Stefano di Cadore. Continue west on SS52 to SR48 towards Auronzo di Cadore and visit Lake Misurina. From there, it's a few minutes into Cortina, and you're back on track. Your route has a long slog down an Austrian valley that doesn't have a lot of redeeming qualities. It's not bad, it's just not good.

    The pass that you have labeled as the Campolongo is actually the Valparola - They've recently restored an old WW1 fort at the top into a nice museum - it's worth a stop if you're into that sort of thing.

    That being said - at Corvara in Badia, you have two choices - keep straight and go over the Campolongo, Pordoi and Sella passes into the Val Gardena or go right and over the Gardena passe into the valley.

    Better yet, this is one of the better (if not the best) places to take an extra day and book into either Corvara in Badia or Arabba. You'll notice that the main roads form a sort of figure-8. You need to ride all of them. Trust me. There are enough roads to keep you busy for 3-4 long days, but you're on a schedule :cry

    Trivia Alert! If you do stay the extra day and go over the Passo Fedaia, you'll see (and can ride across) the dam where Southerland's van was pushed into the water in the remake of "The Italian Job".

    You're passing right by the Alpe di Siusi near Kastelrotto. A nice ride if you have the time, but it's an up and back down sort of thing.

    Everything looks good from Bolzano until you get to Splugen. I strongly recommend that you take a short side trip towards Thusis and visit the Via Mala - a rather spectacular little gorge, it a bit touristy. But at least there's good parking. :D

    [​IMG]

    On to Andermatt! You have two choices over the St. Gotthard. The new road and the older cobblestoned Tremola. I like the Tremola for the sense of history that I get riding it. If it's not raining, I'd opt for that over the new road (which DOES have good views of the Tremola, though). I'm not even mentioning the Autostrada tunnel that goes under Andermatt, assuming that no proper biker would pick a tunnel over a nice twisty road.

    Andermatt's another of those places where you can easily spend a few days riding the local area and not get bored.

    But, again, you're on a schedule and will bypass an enormous amount of spectacular riding. But there's a chance to (partially) redeem yourself! A few kms out of Martigny, in the village of Valettes, there's a road that goes to Champex (VERY easy to miss - pay attention!). It will take you up to a lovely little lake and then down to rejoin the main road to the Grand St. Bernard in Orsieres. Your route shows you taking the tunnel under the pass. I DO hope that is an error :wink: The road over the top departs from the "main" road in an avalanche gallery and is well marked.

    Trivia Alert! (part 2) On your way out of La Thuille on the Petit St. Bernard, you will pass through the tunnel where the original "Italian Job" had the Lambo crash.

    It's a nice ride down into Bourg St. Maurice, and the Cormet de Roselend is a marvelous road. If you're running on (or slightly ahead of) schedule, consider heading south over the Barrage de Roselend and going over the Col du Pre. Great views and a super little restaurant at the top. You'll pick up the D218 in Areches which will take you back north to your track in Beaufort.

    [​IMG]

    Have fun!
    #13
  14. BikeLugger

    BikeLugger Been here awhile

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    Michael J.

    Thanks for the cracking reply! 500 AVD Credits to you! You must know the area well.

    I'll have to sit down with a map tomorrow and have a proper look, I'm very much a visual person so it takes time for road numbers to sink in. I usually just picture them on the map or think about roads as 'The one that squiggles east before looping south with a slight hint of a pear shape' and such.

    As for the route taking tunnels or following a massive autostrada, most are errors when I've quickly traced a route into Google. In fact google refused to go over the St. Bernard so I gave up. I think I even added a note saying as much on my map (why do I feel like a student making excuses to his teacher?! Honest Sir, I tried!) I really plan to just use the google map as a guide and for discussion. I was hoping for insider knowledge from people like you to flesh it out with worthwhile detours and distractions.

    I'm very conscious of time restrictions and how they will cause us to miss things. However, thanks to these nuggets of information I think a return visit will be in order in an attempt to ride a small percent of those routes I've missed. Hopefully with my GF on the back (she's off galavanting in Tanzania this summer)

    I liked the Trivia too, always helps when you are explaining where you have been on your return.



    serialcee.

    Thanks for the tips, I work as an Outdoor Instructor so wild camping can be part of my working week. If you can let me know the details of that and any other free camps you did that would be magic. I'm not sure we'll get down to Sondrio, but you never know.

    Looks like you had some great weather, I hope for the same.

    My Garmin is a basic car model, I don't think it will eat a file and spit out a route, thanks anyway!



    Ali in Austria

    Cheers, If we get chance we'll pop in. And if not, if we return with my GF she is always in favour of a bed over a roll mat!



    BOOTLACE

    I think that is the general consensus. I have always planned to visit the Dolomites, I guess while I'm so close and on a bike it would be stupid to miss them. :evil
    #14
  15. serialcee

    serialcee Adventurer

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    Hi BL, MichaelJ sure looks like he knows what he's talking about! Wish I found this post before my trip ;-). As far as the free/wild camping, we just looked for good spots just out of sight/outside small villages and left nothing behind after leaving. Just follow your instincts.

    For route planning I ditched the aweful Garmin software and made my routes with this neat site: http://bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx you can export the routes as .gpx files, worked like a charm.

    Enjoy the trip!
    #15
  16. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    I like Microsoft's AutoRoute - I like the interface and it makes it (relatively) easy to force a route where the automatics want to route you some other way (say, over the Gr. St. Bernard Pass).

    As far as the GPS goes, I use Marine (boating) units. They're waterproof, shock resistant and give me a lot of flexibility in how I see my data.

    What I don't do is to use them for directions unless I need to find fuel or a place to stay or want to get through/out of a city quickly. For general riding, I use paper maps and notes in my tankbag's map window or will sometimes set a waypoint in the GPS for an easy-to-miss turn.

    What I DO use the GPS for is to record my ride for uploading into Google Earth (sample here). Note: this will download the KMZ file to your PC - it won't open a new window.

    Being a bit of a geek, I travel with enough electronics to need a small generator, and copy the day's track to my laptop in the evening.
    #16
  17. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    You MIGHT consider doing France/Switzerland on one trip and Italy/Austria/Slovenia on another.

    I've got nine 2-3 week rides under my wheels and still have a list of things to see and places to go which, oddly enough, is getting longer, not shorter.
    #17
  18. BikeLugger

    BikeLugger Been here awhile

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    serialcee

    Thanks, I figured as much.

    I don't think I can install a route onto my sat nav though. It's more a point to point device my sister bought me on a whim which I've shoved in a waterproof case on a RAM mount



    MichaelJ

    We have a number of RIB's and a few 25" trailer sailer Yachts at work with GPS units on board. I wonder, could I mount the antenna on my helmet....

    I use my Garmin and paper maps much like you. I prefer to look at a paper map to plan a route and then work off notes/memory and keep it handy for tricky bits. The Sat Nav simply tells me which road I'm on, gives me a more accurate speed reading than the beemer ever can and also provides a heads up for any surprisingly tight bends in the next few hundred meters. The ability to search for the nearest fuel, food, hospital, etc. is also useful. Plus with Paula on the back it saved a few arguments.

    Thanks for the sample route, makes an interesting overlay on mine in google earth.

    I'd love to be able to keep a trace of where I've been, It will draw a line, but it deletes it after a while. For our motorhome tours we did a highlighted route each night. Maybe for my return trip I invest in a better unit, one I don't have to keep in a waterproof case would be good.


    Out of curiosity what brand/scale of paper maps do you use?



    Speaking of electronics, my additional 12v socket arrived this morning so I'm off to wire that up. I'll be taking my iPhone, iPod, satnav and GoPro cam. My big digi camera runs off AA batteries so I'll just take two sets of rechargeable ones and buy disposables if I run out of juice.

    I've fitted my new tyres and having never done a tubeless one I found them surprisingly easy. My new garage compressor helped no end. I've also changed the pads front and rear. They might have lasted on the back but while the calliper was off with the wheel I thought what the heck.

    I've also got round to fixing the little red tab on my BMW System pannier. It's been bust since I got the bike so it's about time.

    One thing I'm toying with is getting a bigger Bagster tank bag. Mine is tiny, big enough for my camera, a water bottle phones etc and thats about it. Big maps are a squeeze and when I leave the bike I have to stuff the satnav into the top box. More room would be better, I just don't want the temptation of adding more weight.

    Still, more room, easier to get to the essentials without climbing off.... eBay might be getting a visit.
    #18
  19. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    I use a GPSMap 478 & a GPSMap 640.

    Which is why the laptop and saving the track daily.

    I like the TCI maps for Italy in 1:200.000 and similar for outside Italy and a 1:500.000 for overview.

    I leave enough room in the topbox to stuff the tankbag & detachable electronics into when I want to leave the bike. Each bike has about 150 liters of lockable storage. Once you get used to it, it's hard to go without :wink:

    Luggage "R" Us:

    Euro Bike:

    [​IMG]

    U.S. Bike:

    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. BikeLugger

    BikeLugger Been here awhile

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    I managed to find an app for my macbook to copy the tracks from the Garmin. Wish I'd looked before we went to the US as I did take my Mac. No chance of taking it on this trip, too heavy and I don't fancy trying to charge it. It's a good find for the future though.

    Mark has a set of maps from his last trip which he'll be taking, though I'm not sure what they are. I'll have a look and get some over there to save a bit of dosh.

    In the end I got a new tankbag, big enough to fit my waterproofs, Cameras / electrics and stuff for the day into it. It has detachable rucsac straps so I can just unclip it from the bike and walk away with it. With the combination of the BMW system Panniers, a Givi 45 top box and a drybag-Pacsafe combo for my tent etc. I should have the ability to lock all my kit down.

    Not long to go now, I just need to look into what we need to take for driving on the continent. Last time I went in the car it was just licence, registration + insurance papers, hi-vis vest and spare bulbs. Some one at work mentioned a breath test kit for france. That I need to check.
    #20