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Ride Around the Alps and Dolomites


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A German friend of mine had asked around if anyone was interested in a mini tour of the Alps. Initially it was only two bikes and my pillion ..  his report on the trip. Three Tracers (FJ-09), Four MT-09's (FZ-09) and a BMW (ex Tracer Owner)
I originally planned this tour for Steve, a friend from England, and myself but we asked around a bit, him on the Tracer-Forum and me on the German MT-09 forum and we found a few people wanting to join us for either part or the whole of the trip. So after a couple of month of planning it was finally time to set off :)
Thurs 30th July:
The main part of our little tour-group arranged to meet at a little guest-house in the Black Forest right on the (in)famous B500 called Waldschänke Schwanenwasen. Steve was making his way down from his over-night stop at the Nürburgring and the other Brit, Michael, came up from France where he spent the last 4 days or so hooning round the Route Napoleon.
Andrej and Robert, two guys from the German MT-09 forum, made their way to the guest-house directly. Andrej even went to work before coming down as he was only an hour away anyway.
I arranged to meet up with another Michael, another German, at my place and we set off for the Black Forest at around 10am. Michael had a GPS on his bike so he took the lead. We rode towards Augsburg and joined the Autobahn for a short sprint to Ulm where we then took the B28. For some reason the GPS decided to take us through every town center it could find which added a bit of time to the journey but a quick fuel stop and a coffee later and the roads started to get a bit twistier around Nagold as we got closer to the Black Forest.
After that it was a somewhat spirited ride past the Schwarzenbachtalsperre and onto the B500 where we found the guest-house only a few KM down the road, right on a very nice curve in the middle of the forest.
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When we arrived English Michael was already waiting and Robert got there about a minute before us. So we made our introductions as none of us had met before and checked into our rooms. The bikes were parked behind the house, out of sight and after getting out of the bike gear we met in the lovely beer-garden for a pint. After a few minutes Steve arrived and got settled in and finally Andrej appeared as well. After that it was time for a great meal and drinks and since we were such good customers the landlord threw a round of local shots called Blutwurz :D
Here the route for that day: Motoplaner-Day1
Fri 31th July:
We arranged breakfast at 8:30 and were greeted by a proper German breakfast table with Semmeln, Aufschnitt, Schinken and Käse (bread rolls, cold meat and cheese).
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After that it was time to load up the bikes and head off on our planned route for the day and by around 9:30 we were on our way with German Michael leading. The tour had started properly now!
We headed south on the B500 which wound its way up and down through the Black Forest and after 50km we did a quick fuel stop. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed this first part of the ride and we were soon on our way again.
Now the route took us down towards Biberach over a nice twisty mountain-road and then into the Kinzigtal. Here Michael's GPS played up again and decided it knew better than the route we'd planned and took us down the main road rather than the smaller road over the mountains but when we finally noticed it was already too late and we just carried on. Finally we re-joined the B500 at Triberg which is famous for having one of the tallest waterfalls in Germany.
Back on the B500, which again wound it's way through the Forest we arrived at Titisee, a very popular tourist destination, where we stopped for lunch. Most of us had filled up with breakfast so we only had a light lunch and a drink and enjoyed the sunshine in the beer-garden.
Once we were ready to set off again we hit a diversion but made our way to Schluchsee via a lovely set of twisties. The route then went further south over some more small passes. Sadly this was where we had an unwelcome encounter with the German Police...
We went up a very twisty road heading towards Todtmoos and encountered a souped up Mercedes in front of us which wasn't hanging about. German Michael's hunter instinct kicked in and me and English Michael followed, completely oblivious to the fact that the whole road up was limited to 80km/h :o
German Michael overtook, then I stayed behind the car until a overtaking opportunity presented itself. We finally came to a long-ish uphill straight and I went for it, English Michael following a bit later. At the end of the straight was a tight right-hander and we really had to hit the breaks hard to make it round and directly after that, in a lay-by, there was a policeman stepping out onto the road.
I still haven't worked out why but he let German Michael and me past and only pulled English Michael over! I was fully expecting to be pulled over there and pretty much walk home but it was not to be.
The rest of us pulled over a bit down the road and waited as to what would happen to English Michael and the news wasn't good. They had a speed trap on the straight somewhere and clocked him way over the limit and wanted over 900€ there and then in cash. I don't know how but he managed to haggle with them and got it down to an even 500€, all the cash he still had on him, and was sent on his way. This might be a cultural thing but somehow it would have never occurred to me that you could haggle with a policeman!
After this shock the mood was very subdued but English Michael really took it in his stride and didn't seem to let it spoil his trip. I know guys who'd have gone home there and then and would be whining about it for ages but not him. Hats off!
For the rest of us it meant a change in pace though. We originally set off trying to stick to the limits +/-20% but somewhere that went out the window. After this incident though the good intentions were back :)
So we carried on and after another fuel stop and a tiny stint through some Swiss villages we arrived at our hotel for the night, the Hotel Rheingold in Gailingen on the river Rhine, just after it flows through the Bodensee (Lake Constance) and just before the famous Rheinfall. When we arrived people where a bit dubious about the hotel as the outside still looked like a building site. Once inside though it was really nice and all brand new. They had only just opened for business and the outside still needed finishing but apart from that it was a great place to stay the night.
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We then had dinner across the road in the restaurant belonging to the landlady's mother and after a few drinks it was time for bed as we had a long day ahead of us and agreed on a 7am breakfast and 8am start.
Here the route for that day: Motoplaner-Day2
Sat 1st August:
As agreed the evening before everyone was up and having breakfast at 7am on the dot and as a German I do like punctuality :)
Unfortunately the weather had turned over night and it was raining but what can you do... Breakfast was great and after checking out and loading up the bikes we were on our way into Switzerland at around 8am.
After the issues with German Michael's GPS the previous days we voted for Robert to take the lead today as he is using a setup with smart-phone and an app called OsmAnd+ which he promised would work better.
The first part of the route took us through some Swiss villages and later along the Bodensee and then into Austria and over the first mountain road of the day just after Dornbirn. Shortly after we stopped for fuel and a coffee and got in touch with Christian and Alfred, the last two additions to our group, who would join us just a few more KMs down the road.
Christian is a German who rode down to Austria on his BMW R1200R the day before and met up with the Austrian Alfred on another Tracer who was coming from near Salzburg. They stayed the night in Damüls which was directly on our route.
After we made our introductions the now 8-strong group headed off towards Furkapass where finally the rain stopped and the roads started to dry out. We came into the town of Feldkirch where we found a nice restaurant to stop for lunch.
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Ready to go again we were headed for Liechtenstein and encountered a bit of a traffic jam just before the border. It wasn't too bad though as the border guards seem to just wave people past and so we made it over the border without a big delay. The next part was a relatively boring ride through some towns and villages along the Liechtenstein/Swiss border which we didn't even notice crossing, only the car's licence plates gave it away.
After we reached the town of Landquart we turned back towards the mountains and the popular skiing destination Davos. It was a bit of a trek through the valley but we finally reached the turning for our next mountain pass on the route, the Flüelapass where we stopped for a little break and some people risked it to finally take their wet gear off.
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The next pass on the route was the Ofenpass which had empty and wide roads and I really enjoyed that part. The road took us down into Italy then and in the town of Prad am Stilfser Joch we filled up ready for the main event of the day, the Stilfser Joch (Stelvio Pass).
In high spirits we set off towards the pass and the first few hairpins appeared. It was a great ride until we encountered fog and then rain and the higher we got the worse it got. It only then occurred to me that the fog was actually a massive rain cloud and we were right in the middle of it. With visibility only about 10-20 meters and some mad cyclists going up and down the pass without any kind of lights on their bicycles, it made negotiating the already challenging road even more treacherous and everyone slowed down to a snail's pace.
If you've ever gone up the Stelvio you will have noticed that each hairpin has a number and they count down the higher you go. There are nearly 50 of them on the north side which were going up and the numbers were going down far too slow. After around 30 of these hairpins there were hazard lights in front. :o
As we got closer we saw the hazards belonged to two of our group who had been a bit ahead of us and we thought the worst. German Michael was standing in the road picking up a bike and Robert was there too on the side of the road. There were two bikes on the ground. Only after a few moments did I realise that those two weren't in our group. One was a Yamaha MT-07 and the other was a CBR600 or something similar and German Michael was just helping them. What a relief!
They waved us past as all was in hand and there wasn't much else we could do to help and German Michael told us what happened later on:
The two bikes involved were ridden by two young guys going downhill. They were riding too close to the car in front and when the car needed to break hard in the middle of the hairpin due to oncoming traffic the two guys had to slam on the breaks and locked up the front wheels. He said it looked like a synchronised crash as the both fell over simultaneously. Luckily it was a very low speed accident and they both appeared fine with only cosmetic damage to their bikes. Phew!
When we reached the top of the pass we needed to stop just to catch our breaths. I've been on that pass several times, even in the snow once, but I've never experienced anything like this. It was terrifying at the time.
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Going down the south side wasn't much better though there were a few areas without the fog and we finally got to the town of Bormio. We made our way through towards the Gavia Pass where on the way we found our hotel, the Hotel Milano in Santa Caterina Valfurva. We parked up, unloaded and checked into, what the English contingent would refer to as "Italian Fawlty Towers" :)
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Only now I realised that Steve wasn't with us any more :o
I tried to reach him on the phone but no luck and the others said he was still there after we set off from the pass. I hoped nothing had happened... and shortly after he arrived. Phew, again!
Apparently he took a wrong turn going down the pass and ended up going back into Switzerland. Luckily he noticed after a short while and made his GPS take him directly to the hotel.
Now that everyone was accounted for and thanks to me booking half-board at this place, which I had totally forgotten about, we were sitting down to a nice dinner and some quite odd entertainment by the guy running the place. He was there to check us in, he was being the waiter at dinner, he served the drinks at the bar and he made funny little noises when putting plates or other things on the tables... It was hilarious :lol:
After such a long and exhausting day everyone really felt it and it was soon time for bed. We agreed to have breakfast at 8am and set off around 9am the next day, hopefully in better conditions.
Here the route for that day: Motoplaner-Day3
Sun 2nd August:
We came down to breakfast at 8am as agreed and "Basil Fawlty" greeted us with more of his entertainment. The weather looked a lot better than the day before, still a bit cloudy but at least no rain for now. Still, a couple of people opted for rain gear anyway, just in case.
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We loaded up the bikes again and were soon our way up the Gavia Pass. Robert was in the lead again as his GPS set-up really worked and he was leading the group very well. The pass itself is quite challenging due to quite bad road surface and having very narrow roads in places. Especially when going down the south side it gets very tight and there were a few occasions where we came to a complete halt.
Steve fell a bit behind on that pass but soon caught up. We were all still quite exhausted from the hard day before but it must have been a lot worse for Steve and English Michael as they had several days more riding under their belts already. So we took it easy that morning and after a quick fuel stop headed in the direction of Bozen via the Passo del Tonnale and later the Mendelpass. We stopped on Passo del Tonnale for a quick photo and Steve decided to go on ahead on the Route so we didn't have to wait for him, or at least that's what he told us :lol:
We set off shortly after him and caught up with him about 10 minutes down the road at a traffic light. After that I'm not sure what happened to him but he went tearing off into the distance like a bat out of hell :twisted:
We didn't see him again until we got to Mendelpass where he seemed to have found his Mojo again and went round corners pegs scraping and apparently having a real blast :lol:
That pass is one of the best in the area, great road surface all the way and all the curves and hairpins have a constant radius great for "spirited" riding. Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy it and the rainy previous day was completely forgotten. We stopped for a quick break just outside Bozen and, since the sun had been out fully for the last hour or two at least, even the most superstitious amongst us finally got out of their wet gear :D
At this point Steve and English Michael decided to head straight for our next hotel as it was only around an hour away from where we were and the planned route would take us away from it and only back to it later on. So I made sure they had the correct address in their GPS and off they went. The rest of the group continued on the planned route and soon made a lunch stop just after the small town of Auer.
Watered and fed we carried on past Cavalese and finally set eyes on the Dolomites and hit the first passes there.
The route took us over some smaller mountain roads and through Alleghe which lies on a very scenic lake.
At this point we decided to cut our route a bit short as well as it was getting late in the day and we all still felt the effects of the previous day. So instead of going round three passes of the famous Sella Ronda we would only do two of them and then head for our hotel as well. We went up the Campolongo Pass which has a long straight stretch of road at the top. There's a speed limit of 60 or 80km/h, can't quite remember, and wouldn't you know it the police was there with a speed trap. Three of us overtook a van and a car but luckily oncoming traffic warned us so we slowed right down and went past without problems. The rest of the group was behind another car which also overtook the van and car. He wasn't so lucky and got pulled over, our guys didn't overtake and were fine too. Phew :)
Next on the route was the Grödnerjoch where we stopped for a final break and some photos.
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The last stretch took us down through the Grödnertal and finally up to the town of Kastelruth and our hotel for the night the Wiesenhof. This was actually the surprise of the trip as it only cost 20€ per single room including breakfast and still offered great views, decent en-suite rooms and a good breakfast in the morning.
Steve and English Michael welcomed us as soon as we arrived and we got our room keys to get settled in. Both of them seemed to have had a relaxing afternoon and even went on a little walk to a nearby village in search of lunch. Apparently it was further than they thought and it turned into a bit of a hike... :D
Sadly we didn't have the dinner option as it wasn't offered when I booked on Booking.com so Steve gave us a list of options he and Michael had found out about this afternoon. We all opted for a Pizza delivery and Alfred made the call. We had some drinks and the food finally arrived. It was a very nice evening and we sat outside until late.
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Here the route for that day: Motoplaner-Day4
Mon 3rd August:
Another day where we arranged breakfast at 8am and planned to set off around 9am. We loaded up the bikes and the weather looked great. Everyone was in high spirits and soon we were on our way down into the Grödnertal and the Sella Ronda where the plan was to ride over the passes we missed out the day before.
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We hadn't even gotten to the first pass of the day yet, the Sellajoch, and already we realised that we weren't the only ones who had this idea. There was literally a traffic jam going up the mountain.
When we finally made it up we didn't even stop and headed straight for the next pass, the Passo Pordio. Again there was lots of traffic and at times it all came to a complete halt on the way up. So when we finally got to the top we stopped to discuss our plans and decided to cut out the rest of the passes in this area and head straight for Cortina d'Ampezzo.
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At this stage German Michael had to leave us and headed home directly as he'd arranged to go on holiday with his boys the following day. So we said our goodbyes, wished him a safe journey and in Arabba he turned towards home, a bit over 400km away if you avoid the motorways.
The rest of our group carried on via the Passo di Falzarego to the well known skiing destination Cortina d'Ampezzo where on the outskirts we stopped again for another set of farewells. Alfred and Christian had to leave us here as Alfred had a work appointment the next morning and Christian would be on-call then.
After we waved them off there were only five of us left: Steve, English Michael, Robert, Andrej and me, 3 MT-09s and 2 Tracers.
From here we re-joined our original route and negotiated our way through Cortina. However, Robert's GPS decided that it liked the one-way system there so much that he took us round it twice. When we finally found the right road out of town we were rewarded with some lovely twisties which definitely made up for the little extra round earlier.
The route took us further east into a scenic valley along the river Padola and after a fuel stop we decided it was time for lunch. We soon found a nice restaurant overlooking the valley and settled down for some great food.
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Ready for the afternoon it had gotten quite warm now and we were glad about any tunnel we came through to cool down a bit. After a while we turned north towards Austria which border we crossed on top of the Plöckenpass. It wasn't very busy on this pass and on the Austrian side we discovered why. The road there is so pothole covered and half-heartedly fixed in places that it was no fun at all to go down that side. Our theory for the road condition at time was either to keep the Italians from coming over or to force people to go via a toll road like the Brenner Pass. 2355322358.gif
When we finally go to the bottom we stopped for some nice Austrian coffee in the town of Mauthen. We were all quite exhausted from the heat now and the little break made all the difference. Soon we were on our way again towards our destination for the day, the Großglockner and the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße the famous road leading over it.
After an uneventful ride through the Austrian countryside we finally got to the toll station at the bottom of the mountain. We paid our 24.50€ per bike for the day and carried on up the road. You pay the toll for the whole day and as long as you don't leave the controlled toll area you can go up and down as often as you want. In addition almost all museums and attractions are free after that and if you spend the night on the mountain, like us, you do not need another ticket for the next day.
Quite exhausted we then arrived at our hotel for the night, the Berggasthof Wallackhaus which stands on its own at 2304m altitude. When we arrived the exhaustion was instantly forgotten as the location was so incredible and the views so stunning that we had to take it all in for a few minutes before unloading and checking in.
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The landlord offered us to put the bikes in the garage and after settling in it was time for some selfies 1762717791.gif
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We then met for drinks and later had a 3-course dinner which everyone seemed to enjoy.
For the last few days Michael had been planning his route back to the UK but hadn't decided where to stay the next night yet. Since Steve and Robert would be staying in a hotel near my place Michael decided to join them but unfortunately all the hotels in the area appeared to be booked out. I tried to help him sort out something and started calling places. Finally after 3 or 4 attempts I managed to find one with availability and booked him a single room there. Sorted! icon_lol.gif
And with that it was time for bed already... But no, some late arrivals from Belgium and the Netherlands needed to get their bikes into the garage as well so we were summoned to move ours a bit to make some space. We did and the new arrivals managed to get all their bikes in behind ours. Now we could only hope they'd be early risers so we could get our bikes out again in the morning...
Here the route for that day: Motoplaner-Day5
Tues 4th August:
It was a lovely morning to wake up to on the mountain. The sun was out already and the air still cool and fresh. After a little stroll it was time for breakfast, at 8am as usual, and to our surprise the late arrivals from last night had already taken their bikes out of the garage and a couple of them had even been on a pre-breakfast ride on the lovely empty roads up here.
While we got ready to set off again the car park got "invaded" by a herd of sheep. One in particular seemed to take great interest in Andrej and his bike icon_lol.gif
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He finally managed to get rid of the sheep and off we went. The plan today was to first go back and up to the overlook at Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe where you have a great view of the Pasterze, the famous glacier. Or what's left of it...
We arrived there just before the first batch of tourists made their way up so had pretty clear roads all the way and stunning views of the region. We parked up next to another MT-09 that was already standing there and got chatting to the owner, an Austrian.
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The glacier itself has receded a lot over the last few years and a huge amount compared to 1938, as you can see in the images on the very informative website www.gletscherarchiv.de.
So if you haven't been there yet, better go before it's gone completely! icon_eek.gif
Soon it was time for us to set off again so we turned around and went back past the hotel and further up the mountain road which led through a couple of tunnels and then down the other side. The road itself has very good surface and is wide enough to get past most "obstacles" in a timely fashion.
All too soon we got down into the valley and left the toll area behind us heading for the town of Zell am See. Here we hit some major traffic as it seemed like everyone wanted to go into town. Like good Germans we queued in the traffic but suddenly Michael and Steve went tearing past us. Looked like their London riding instincts had kicked in and they were out of sight within seconds. The rest of us started to follow gingerly but having lived and commuted in and around London for some years myself it all came back to me fairly quickly and we managed to get through the town without too much delay icon_smile.gif
After that it was mostly main roads all the way to the German border where we stopped for lunch in a town called Oberaudorf.
Sadly, Andrej had to leave us here as he wanted to ride home today and still had to cover nearly 450km on the motorway that day. Again, we made our farewells and off he went on his way.
During lunch we had decided to cut our route short a bit as it was getting quite hot again and since we'd arranged for dinner together at Michael's hotel that evening it was better to arrive in good time and have some time to relax. So we headed for the little town of Schliersee via the well known Tatzelwurmstraße and then the Sudelfeldpass. Sadly these roads have been accident hot-spots for bikers in recent years which has led to very strict speed limits, 60 to 80km/h in most places, speed-bumps before some corners and very frequent police checks in the area. That meant we stuck exactly to the speed limits the whole way.
When we reached Schliersee the traffic got heavier again but we made good progress. We left our original route which would have taken us to Tegernsee, Kochelsee and then up past Ammersee and headed for Weyarn and the Autobahn. There we took the A8 towards Munich, changed onto the A99 to get around to the north side and finally exited onto the B13 at München-Neuherberg. Then the final stretch to my home-town of Reichertshausen where Robert and Steve checked into the Gasthof Lindermeir. Michael went on to his hotel, the Gasthof Müller, a few KM up the road. We agreed that I'd pick Robert and Steve up in the car at 7pm and we'd go to Michael's hotel for dinner and finally I rode the last 5km home and unpacked.
We later met for dinner, I brought my wife with me and Christian, who also lives in the area, came as well with his wife. It was a lovely evening with great company and excellent food and a very fitting end to an exciting trip.
At this point I'd like to thank everyone in the group for being part of this experience and making it what it was. I didn't really know most of you before we set off but I couldn't have wished for better companions.
Hopefully we can repeat this next year 1762717791.gif
Here the route for that day: Motoplaner-Day6

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