Alps, Dolomites and wherever else I wander....

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by dolomoto, Sep 26, 2021.

  1. dolomoto

    dolomoto Destroyer of Motorcycles Supporter

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    I'm fortunate enough to live in northern Italy in the Veneto region (same region as Venice). Within a fair day out-and-back ride is the area around Cortina d'Ampezzo (Passo Falzarego, Pordoi, Giau, etc.). It's about a 3-4h ride to Cortina (each way) so rides up there and back are 8-9h of seat time. Curiously, the Slovenian border is only 2.5h away and has great riding around the Slovenian Alps...but I haven't made time to get over that way on two wheels...yet.

    I also travel quite a bit for work and usually ride my moto when I'm working in Europe (I mostly work in Africa).

    I get some riding ideas from some Italian acquaintances but also from threads here on ADV.

    The Europe off the beaten path thread has some great ideas.

    I used those ideas to populate an Open Street Map located here (is also bookmarked on the thread above):

    http://u.osmfr.org/m/452266/

    ADV'r Franken also keeps a great thread going here:

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/bavaria-and-surroundings.1292522/

    I don't know that I'll keep up with the great data that Franken does, but maybe there's some interest in seeing some of the common and not-so-common places I ride to.

    ADV'r NSFW is just wrapping up another Alpine tour....awesome!

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/ridi...s-bigger-than-i-thought-italian-alps.1341483/

    How cool is the Alps riding? Cool enough that the areas has signs around that let you know the pass status:

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    What would that be important you may ask? Well, some of the higher passes may not open until well into June. The below pic is Passo Rombo / Timmelsjoch on 6 June!

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    Besides being a great road, Passo Rombo also has a toll at the top to cross into Austria...AND, it had a world class moto museum, at least until it burned mostly to the ground this past winter.

    Before the fire:

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    Lots of rare bikes and cars were lost but they are rebuilding!

    Possibly open as soon as November 2021.

    https://www.crosspoint.tirol/

    More to follow...
    #1
  2. dolomoto

    dolomoto Destroyer of Motorcycles Supporter

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    Back in 2019, I took a van up to Germany to pick up my Buell from the original owner (a military spouse stationed at Ramsten AB). The Ulysses had only 8000 miles, all original right down to the 11yo tires!

    It also had a check engine light (CEL) but it was itermittent; the owner also had maintenance records indicating an annual service including oil changes so I had no reservations in buying it. A few weeks after buying it, I rode it to Amsterdam for a business trip.
    Here's going across Passo Marmolada:

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    I later found out the CEL was the Voltage Regulator going out. Below is the back side of the regulator, it's a wonder it worked at all.

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    It was a great trip; below is going down the Austrian side of Passo Rombo.

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    #2
  3. dolomoto

    dolomoto Destroyer of Motorcycles Supporter

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    One of the hazards of early season (May-June) or late season (October-November) moto riding in the Alps is that the road may be cleared of snow but the shady areas may also have stretches of black ice. The below pic is that same trip as above but this area is Passo Gardena; the shaded area never got sunlight and was quite icy...in June.

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    The "juice is worth the squeeze" as they say.

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    The below pic is before I swore off tents with PU coated rainflys (the PU coating disintegrated after only using 4y, 30 nights). Nice view near Garmisch, Germany.

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    Of the many great things about the Alps is the food. In this case, both northern Italy and Bavaria have a common dish: Schweinshaxe (German) aka Stinco (Italy). Roasted pork knuckle...delicious.

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    Luckily, I ride a bicycle quite a bit to work off the food and beer, lol.

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    #3
  4. Fireman1000

    Fireman1000 Long timer

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    Been a while my friend. Looks like life is good!
    #4
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  5. dolomoto

    dolomoto Destroyer of Motorcycles Supporter

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    Last year, a friend of mine named Michael floated the idea of doing an Alpine moto trip after he finished his Swiss Alps hiking trip in August of this year. Michael lives in SW Virginia and we rode together from time to time as part of the same club, the Twin Valley Riders. After most of the Covid foolishness wrapped up and the Swiss Alps hiking trips dates were confirmed to finish in mid August 2021, I got down to some serious route planning. Also coming along was Michael's friend Gianni (has a house in Maryland and Riva del Garda, Italy) and my friend Joe.

    I know my way around the eastern half of the Alps well enough, but what to plan for an epic trip?

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    Speaking with Michael on the phone, he was going to rent a bike for about 10 days and wanted no more than about 6-7h of seat time with preference to staying in a town with an interesting downtown. Hmmm, okay, no problem. When asked which passes he wanted to see, Michael deferred to me. Another ok from me.

    If you had only a single 10 day trip in the Alps, which passes would you choose?

    I narrowed it down to the iconic passes: Stelvio, Grossglockner Hoch Alpenstrasse and the area just west of Cortina, Italy.

    Michael spent a fair amount of time looking for the right bike to rent; he's a bit short on the inseam and settled on a Honda 500X. This was found to be too tall for him but we made do.

    Michael, Gianni and I met up in Riva del Garda and Gianni led us north from RdG thru the area he grew up in.

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    I recommended that we depart RdG and ride over Passo Gavia to our hotel (2 nights) in Bormio (at the foot of Stelvio). I reasoned that the first day should be a short ride to arrive at the hotel around 1500 with the option to ride up to the top of Stelvio that afternoon. Gianni convinced Michael that it was better to hit some minor passes northbound thru Merano and then ride over Stelvio from the north. This proved to be a fateful decision that very nearly ended our trip.
    #5
  6. dolomoto

    dolomoto Destroyer of Motorcycles Supporter

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    Besides being challenging due to it's elevation change in the corners, the off camber turns and the sheer dropoffs (and the scenery!) it can take awhile for some riders to ride up the north ramp of Stelvio (from the north). There are 47 numbered switchbacks with the bulk of them aptly described in the previous sentence.

    Michael was looking foward to Stelvio but since we took the "long way" from our starting point earlier in the day, we started Stelvio a bit tired...that went double for Michael. Here's a good pic heading up Stelvio right about where things go from sweeping corners to the switchbacks. At this moment, it was all good!

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    One of the Golden Rules of Riding In the Alps is to never, every stop mid corner...that goes double or triple when the inside of the corner may have no shoulder. Despite our caution, it's typical for riders to get a bit spooked when they get off their preferred cornering line and realize their path of travel takes them right into oncoming traffic. Combine that with the relatively slow speed (unstable moto) and it's easy for folks to drop the bike. Last year, I watched a train of GS's that were much too close together riding up Stelvio. The lead rider had a moment and stopped mid corner. He tried to dab his right foot down and there was nothing but air. As he fell over, his bike slid back downhill into the other bikes that had also stopped and the fallen GS took them out like domino's. The hapless victim of all this was a cyclist who had stopped at the entrance of the corner but the carnage of bikes of people fell right into him and took him out (just bumps and scrapes).

    Michael's moment was much less dramatic but did result in a busted front brake lever, a bruised ego and a moment when he looked at me and said if this is what the Alps were like, he quit.

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    Gianni had turned around to ride back to check on us and with a bit of encouragement, Michael got back into the saddle. We made sure he knew the "worst was yet to come" as the photo depicts only turn 16 of 47 and altitude 2320m (600m in altitude left to go). We all made it to rapidly fading daylight and decided to just stop for a quick photo and get on to the Bormio hotel.

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    The south ramp of Stelvio is an altogether different beast than the north side. There are fewer switchbacks (with less mid-corner altitude change), arguably better scenery (waterfalls) and some nice tunnels with good pavement.

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    Michael rode on ahead while Gianni and lagged back to enjoy the sights.

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    We had a nice hotel in the center of Bormio, I highly recommend this town as a jumping off point. Fun fact, I booked "double rooms" thinking they had two beds....nope! It was double occupancy rooms (or a surcharge for only a single occupant). Luckily, the beds were big enough that two folks could share a bed without contact. I made a note to specify separate beds for the rest of the trip!

    My intention for the trip was to stay at least two nights in each place to allow a day to ride around without the hassle of checking out and having to be at some other place. This plan worked well.

    This was our day two track:

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    We had picked up Joe in Bormio; day 2 started with my all-time Favorite Alpine Pass...Passo Gavia. It's a relic among the high passes. Terrible sections of pavement, insane dropoffs with no guardrail, very narrow sections hardly large enough for a small car and moto to pass in opposite directions...I like it!

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    It was a perfect day of riding. Fair skies, relatively light traffic and perfect temps...around 60 deg F at the highest peaks. Very nice.

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    Below pic is me somewhere along Passo Gavia.

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    The rest of the day strung several passes together including the fast Passo Tonale (westbound). Once we got onto the Bernina Pass, we started to get some typical Swiss Alpine views. Once we reached the turnoff for Livigno (Italy), Joe and Gianni continued into Switzerland and St. Moritz with a return across Stelvio. Michael and I opted to ride into Livigno, Italy...the land of duty free! Gas was around 1 euro per liter instead of the regular 1.70/liter...nice!.

    This sign at the Livigno turn cautions riders: "do not let yourself down".

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    The pass out of Livigno back to Bormio is nice; good pavement, nice views and a dearth of traffic control devices.

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    Day 3 was a transit day to reposition from Bormio, Italy to Oberdrauburg, Austria; I knew it was going to be a 6-7h slog. Michael was a bit hesitant about the connection but I assured him that Austria and the Grossglockner Hoch Alpenstrasse would be worth it.
    #6
  7. Gone Troppo

    Gone Troppo Somewhat bemused observer Supporter

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    Over the bridge of sighs..
    Takes me back, thanks!

    Stelvio can be tricky for the inexperienced….

    The south ramp is easier…but beware the very tight corner in one of the narrow and badly lit tunnels….
    #7
  8. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    Location:
    Cumbria, UK
    :lurk

    As a fellow Buell XT rider I feel duty bound to follow this thread, not that it’s any hardship, I love the Alps :D
    #8
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