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mhpr262 09-01-2007 08:49 AM

Micro - Adventure through the Dolomites
I´ve always wanted to do a trip through the Alps, especially over and across all those legendary roads and passes in the Dolomites. It´s not very hard for me to get there, as I do not live 100mls north of the first peaks. in Erding, near Munich, actually.

My only problem was that I didn´t have a proper bike. I did have a 125ccm bike for commuting, but 12hp are not ideally suited to steep alpine roads and high altitudes. I finally got around to buying a (halfway...) decent bike in autumn last year (Suzuki GS 500) and decided to tackle those mountains. Weather forecast predicted blue sky without any clouds, zero chance of rain and mild temperatures for the area I had planned to ride in.

So one fine day in mid - April I packed my bike (notice the tricked-out luggage carrying system :evil ) and set off.

Lonely backroad, halfway to (Lake) Tegernsee.

The town of the same name is one of the most famous - and one of the most expensive - holiday resorts in Germany.

The mountains begin to rise just south of the lake

The view on the road to the Achensee:

On a viewing platform on the eastern side of the Achensee, looking south:

The legendary "Cafè Kanzelkehre", high above the valley of the (River) Inn.

The equally legendary view from the viewing platform of the Café. I photographed in an easterly direction, innsbruck lies in the same valley, but to the West.

mhpr262 09-01-2007 09:21 AM

Next step was the Brenner pass. I had decided to take the old road, not the Autobahn. It´s free (unlike the Autobahn) and it´s waaay more fun! This foto was taken from the very beginning of this road. We´re looking back north at Innsbruck here.

Just a few kilometers further, we´re crossing underneath the old "Europabrücke", the tallest bridge of its sort in the world when it was built, if I´m not mistaken.

Halfway up the Brenner road, looking back north. The viaduct on the left is the Autobahn, a bit of "my" road can be seen on the right.

The Brenner pass itself is very unspectacular, just a straight broad road with dirty and ugly factory buildings on both sides, therefore no photos.
Just south of Sterzing you have to choose between staying on the Brenner Road or trying the Jaufenpass that will take you to Bozen via Meran, or the Penser pass, which will take you there through the Sarntal. I chose the Penser. This is the famous rock formation at the beginning of the pass road.

I´m climbing higher...

and higher....(notice how the sun is getting more and more glaring the higher I get)

...all the way to the top. If you look closely at the grey sky or the dark asphalt, you can see the falling snowflakes. Don´t let the sun blind you.

The other side of the pass. A view into the Sarntal (Valley of the Sarn). You can just make out the road leading down. Rather boring, no pictures. Besides, I found it a bit hard to move my fingers and take out the camera, due to the mild temperatures that had made my fingers a bit stiff.

OffRoadCruiser 09-01-2007 09:32 AM

You rode in April because you wanted to avoid the tourists???
Great pictures, I can see by all that snow and the grey clouds that you must have been cold.

When is a good time to ride these roads? Not that I will likely ever get the chance. :cry


mhpr262 09-01-2007 09:52 AM

April 2007 was the hottest April ever registered in Germany, so i guess I underestimated the weather a bit...a bad mistake in the Alps, the weather there is notorious for coming up with nasty surprises. My jacket was good, but i didnt bring my winter gloves, just thin summer leather gloves. Bad mistake.

if you get the chance you will want to ride the perhaps biggest, highest and most spectacular road in the Alps, the Großglockner-Hochalpen (High Alpine) Straße. It´s the pass that usually opens latest, so you had best plan around that. Big site on the internet, opening times each year can be found there:

Good luck, it´s worth some saving!

P.S. On the website they say they´re planning to turn the road into a "Motorradhimmel", a biker heaven! sounds good, doesn´t it?

mhpr262 09-01-2007 09:56 AM

The road will take you straight to Bozen (if you let it), I took a little detour through Wangen and Oberbozen that takes you up the mountains on the eastern side of the valley. I can only recommend this (just two words: twisties madness). The follow descent to Bozen is beautiful, very scenic (and also very twisty!)

Bozen, the central marketplace.

The mountain I descended from can be seen in the background.

The new university building. Ready for World War III!

Campingground south of Bozen, looking north. Bloody expensive, not recommended...!

Breakfast next morning. Photo spreads concentration camp atmosphere.

mhpr262 09-01-2007 10:55 AM

After breakfast I rode back north again, on the old Brenner road that would have taken me south to Bozen had I not taken the Penser road "behind" (south of) Sterzing. In Klausen you have to turn east, on the road to St. Ulrich (Ortisei in Italian, that part of Italy and the people there are more German/Austrian in practice than it is Italian).

This is the official beginning of the "Große Dolomitenstraße", the "Grand Dolomite Road"!

Almost arrived at the first great pass, the "Sellajoch" here, I look back (not in anger)

Skiing and motorcycling are hobbies that manage to be both relaxing and physically hardening. should have brought my skis! :huh

And down again on the other side:

Next stop: the Pordoi pass. Nice icicles.

And once again, down the other side towards Cortina d`Ampezzo (where the james Bond movie was shot)

This last stretch was a real killer. The distance doesn´t look much on the map, but it´s 45 miles of 2nd and 3rd gear twisties at low speed, slippery, wet road, and consistently downhill, which means you have to brake all the time. if my hands hadn´t been so numb from the cold, they would have been screaming. Halfway, I found this inn by the road, and a cup of tea restored most of my vital functions. Careful when you duplicate the tour, the innkeeper has the meanest, oldest, ugliest ChowChow you´ve ever seen. Was so arthritic it could hardly sit down, but the bloody thing still almost took my hand off when I tried to pet it...:eek1 :huh :D

From Cortina d´Ampezzo I rode north to Toblach. Rain started to pour down after half the distance, and it kept raining until Lienz. Originally, I had planned to take the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße back to Zell am See and Kitzbühel, but after a few kilometers I saw a large sign by the road announcing the road was still closed. Probably a good thing, too, in hindsight at least. I was probably too exhausted to attempt that road safely. I took the Felbertauernstraße with the famous tunnel instead.

Then home again. Rest is rather boring. Hope you enjoyed the trip a bit, despite the lousy weather. Perhaps the exotic location made up for it a bit in my first ride report attempt. I´m sure to repeat the trip in the not-too-far future, hopefully with the sun shining.

Goodbye and good luck, ride safely.
Greetings from Germany,

mhpr262 09-01-2007 10:57 AM

Oh yes, and NEXT time I`ll be sure to pack gear for ALL sorts of weather, no matter what the §$%& forecast says!:deal

Yellow Pig 09-01-2007 11:01 AM

Nice ride report!

is this building made of LEGOS! :lol3

GB 09-01-2007 05:31 PM

Looks like a great ride, except for the snow :vardy!! thanks for the report and pics :thumb

tiefflieger 09-02-2007 06:46 AM

Great report, but it does look painfull! Glad you still enjoyed it in the cold and wet.

Ich vermisse die Alpen...

Frgich 09-03-2007 07:55 AM

Real hard core riding experience, great stuff :thumb, pics are a little bit on the cold side :lol3

rhino_343 09-03-2007 09:11 AM

Awesome, fantastic, loved the pictures!:clap :clap :clap
My wife and I would give up the sun and surf of Western Australia any day to go live in the Dolomites. It is truly a magic place and the favorite place we have been in all our travels. Cortina was the town we liked the most, we will be back some day soon and hopefully next time we will have skis too!

dalbertini 09-03-2007 10:47 AM

Riding the Dolomites?

come and ride the Dolomites!

PackMule 09-03-2007 11:18 AM

Wow. Great job surviving the conditions! :vardy

Thanks for the ride! :thumb

earthbm 09-03-2007 02:41 PM

Like your sense of humor, dude.

What I like even more is the brilliant in-your-face to all the fair weather GS riders who spend 20k euros on the bike and bling only to ride to Garmisch once or twice a year :rofl

What I found works best for the short term forecast (I commute from Munich to Milan every weekend, so need this) is the US Air Force website:,.GIF,6,3,15

Say yes to the security warning (if you trust the US government :D )

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