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g容g 09-23-2011 06:24 AM

Greg & Michelle's 2011 European Adventure
the prologue:

Michelle & I have been riding together for the last three years. We have done plenty of local trips, Guzzi rally in western NY, Vermont weekend, the Catskills, and more western NY, to name a few. She's seen all the pictures from Euro tours & heard the stories, and after Joe & I went to the UK last year (wandering around England) and left her at home, she said "it's her time!" :D

So this year Joe & a group of lads from the New England area headed over in July, and Michelle & I made our plans for September. The maps came out shortly after Christmas, the arrangement for rental bikes was made with MotoMader in Aarau Switzerland and the flights were booked. It was countdown time.

We had a rough plan:

The plan included some of the best passes the Alps have to offer, along with a helping of Dolomites, and side of Lago di Garda, and visits to the Ducati museum & the Moto Guzzi factory. There was also a strong possibility of meeting up with inmate Tagesk of "Riding in Tuscany" fame and his lovely Capa Superiore della Famiglia.

We also hoped to have a drink with inmate "Cooltours", master of the Schwartzwald and a local of the Zurich area (and a new dad! :clap).

So with that,, the plans were set. Now it all depended on the countdown.

g容g 09-23-2011 07:02 AM

finally that day has arrived!!

we have a noon flight out of Providence RI to Philadelphia, so plenty of time, but I am chomping at the bit. I wanna go!!

flight to Philly... uneventful.
parking yourself in the US Airways Envoy Class lounge pre-flight? priceless!

ah yes... the girl is happy too!

for my friends working today...:D

ready for our relaxing Trans-Atlantic as the riff raff find their seats in the way-back :evil

g容g 09-23-2011 07:41 AM

Flight across was great.

Being able to stretch out & actually sleep was a big plus! Would I be willing to "pay" for Envoy class? Probably not.. ask Kevin, I'm frugal... :rofl
but when you do it on miles... damn sweet! :thumb

Customs & immigration at Zurich was a breeze, bags came pretty quick & we were off on the Swiss Rail to Aarau! yay!

Erwin from MotoMader came & grabbed us at the train and brought us to our bikes. Originally we had requested a pair of F 650 GS's (800 cc parallel twin BMW's) but they were unavailable. :eek1

Erwin says "not a problem" and he produced an F 800-R for Michelle and a R 1200-R for me. Problem? What problem? Life is sweet. I cannot say enough good things about this dealer. they are amazingly professional & courteous. I have rented from them in 2001, 2003 and 2004, and each time just confirms they are top notch! :thumb

the bikes:

aforementioned F 800-R

and the mighty R 1200-R

Almost ready?

I am...

So with the GPS dialed in for points south, we head off (slightly jet-lagged) through the lovely Swiss countryside.

The plan for day one:

I figure may as well get Michelle into the passes before she has her wits about her. That way the adrenalin will overcome the jet-lag. It's surprisingly warm as we stop near Umer See to take off jacket liners & snap some pics.

Gear adjusted, we are off again.

Mountains getting closer.

The top of Michelle's first pass, Susten Pass.

Time for a coffee...

and check out the local bike scene:

Next pass: Grimsel!

I think she really likes this... I may have created a monster. Well at least she doesn't pass cars & buses like an Italian rider.... yet.

No pictures on the Furka, as it was getting on in the day & we wanted to find a place to stay. Heading down in to Andermatt:

The town:

I'm knackered....:snore

Then dinner came, it's hunting season, so we got the "deer, hunter style". Pretty damn tasty... but it's time for sleep.

So far, so good and about 230 km down. Not bad for half a days work.

phoenix49 09-23-2011 08:10 AM

Ain't life GRAND!!!:clap

907Duc 09-23-2011 05:29 PM

nice :1drink

g容g 09-24-2011 12:42 PM

Day Two

Just when you're so tired you think you'll sleep until morning.... you wake up at the crack of midnight :D
Our room was over the bar at the Hotel Aurora, so it was hard to tell at first if people were up for breakfast, or not gone to bed. Sadly it was the latter. Nothing a Tylenol PM doesn't cure though, and soon it really was morning.

Our rough plan had us heading east, over the Oberalp, Albula, and Bernina passes into Italy. Originally we had considered a jaunt into Livigno for a little duty free, but decided against it at the time.

The morning view

Dressed & ready to eat

The mighty R-1200-R is loaded up

and Michelle is ready to roll too

Oberalp approaches

the view back towards Andermatt

all GoPro'd up and ready :thumb

a little stop action courtesy of me hitting the wrong button on the GoPro. The back-roads from Reichenau to the Albula Pass

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As you can see the weather was spectacular. Top of pass shots:

We had a coffee & some dolce at the top of the pass & chatted with a couple on a Moto Guzzi. They were headed for Mandello Del Lario for the Guzzi 90th birthday. We wished them a safe journey & tucked in to our snack.

a reflection of my face....

paid up & ready to roll

next stop: Bernina Pass

last of the Swiss countryside for a while

a stop to remove liners (I mentioned the weather was fantastic right?)

middle of the road train

and another

hello Italia!!

bye Switzerland


we made it to Bormio and got a room at the same bed & breakfast I stayed at in 2004, Adda. Nothing special, nice & clean, and only Euro 45 / night!! Much less expensive that the CHF 170 we paid in Andermatt. Since it was still early, we dropped our bags & took a run up the Stelvio Pass.

plenty high!

not too busy

tomorrow's job

Michelle's not worried :thumb

the way back to Bormio

we ran into an English chap who was traveling alone & swapped "here take a pic of us" shots with him. He was on his way to a bachelor party at the Nurburgring via a bunch of Alps passes... good for him!

after dinner in Bormio we head back to our room.

about 250 km for the day, and three passes (four if you count up & back one side of Stelvio).
a GREAT day! :clap

g容g 09-25-2011 03:09 PM

Day Three

After a really nice night in Bormio, and a pleasant (yet a bit small) breakfast at Adda it was time to start the day. the plan (as far as Michelle knew) was pretty simple: an assault on the western face of Stelvio, a stop at the top for some pictures, then off to the east ending up in Canazei near the bottom of Passo Sella.

getting ready to leave:

ever have that deja vu? I've been here before... birthday 2004

a little Stelvio teaser of Michelle going up (thanks GoPro!)

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anyway, view from the top

pretty quiet (it wasn't that early)

the "hey, can you take our picture?" shot

mountain top chapel

the author (looks a bit nervous maybe?)

Michelle & I walked around & checked out the scene. Michelle bought a couple of pass stickers, a Stelvio cap and a key chain while I took a few more snaps. A group of riders walked by talking English, so I asked where they were from. "the UK" was the initial reply, but then Mike admitted to being Canadian :D. Mike Lives in the UK now though doing rider training & organizing tours (check out peak rider training)... I should have asked for a job application :thumb

We chatted for a while, discussed plans, and how nice the weather was, and then said our good-byes. Mike and his group headed up to the hotel for a coffee leaving Michelle and I to admire the view.

This was my opening....

I had been planning this for a little while, but had kept the secret well (amazing... knowing me).

My one hint to Michelle a week or so before the trip:

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I dare you to let me be your, your one and only
I promise I'm worthy to hold in your arms
So come on and give me the chance
To prove that I'm the one who can
Walk that mile until the end starts

So, yeah.... I asked her to marry me. Although I am sure she will (correctly) point out that it wasn't exactly like that. After a very long pause... she said "Yes"

So yeah... I am a happy camper!

Mike came back down the hill to snap a pic, and ended up being the first person we told. He was pretty chuffed as well and wished us all the best. He got a great pic of us:

At this moment the eastern side of Stelvio was a bit more than either of us could face. So we sat quietly and just watched the world go by.

.... to be continued ...

Serbchaser 09-25-2011 03:15 PM

Love this report. Looks like an unbelievable trip. Thanks.

Chelle 09-25-2011 04:29 PM

Spectacular trip full of surprises
It was an amazing trip......and I'm loving the story as Greg's writing it, even though I know how it goes. ....and it's a story I will love for the rest of my life.

Greg may have proposed without actually saying the he countered, "... we can have a complete conversation without saying a word"...and he's right.

Perfect place and fantastic surprise. How did I ever get so lucky

Nan-Lo 09-25-2011 04:48 PM

I'm so happy for the two of you! Dream engagement location, that's for sure!! :clap

on2wheels52 09-25-2011 06:28 PM

That is so cool.
Have just returned thursday from a 10 day ride in the Alps, my rr will take a while to put together. Tuned in for the rest of this one.

907Duc 09-25-2011 10:30 PM

:freakyCongratulations we are both thrilled to hear the news. Welcome to the family Michelle. Love you guys.
Mark and Sandy

g容g 09-26-2011 03:40 PM

Day Three Continues....



OK.. onwards and downwards

not sure I would be into a ride on one of these

into the countryside

I love Italy! I wonder if anyone is hiring?

towards Jaufenen Pass

top of Jaufenen. Michelle still smiling.. score one for Greg :D

more renters


top Of Sella Pass

we made it down into Canazei and started looking for a hotel. My friend Joe had been through earlier in the year & had mentioned the place they stayed was really nice.... Of course I don't remember the name :doh
So, in true "follow me I know what I'm doing" fashion we head to the end of town to the place we'd stayed at in 2003 (the same place that was closed in '04) and find yup, it's closed... double :doh

So we turn back towards town & stop at the first place on the right.... Turns out this is exactly the place Joe had stayed. Funny how that works. :thumb

the route was good
the results were fantastic
tomorrow is my birthday with a plan to do nothing but ride Dolomites passes all day :thumb

another 250 km behind us

g容g 09-26-2011 04:20 PM

Day Four

So Joe didn't steer us wrong. Hotel Fiordaliso was really nice. Big, clean room, nice breakfast, friendly staff, and a nice balcony to watch the bikes rolling through in the evening. Today we have no bags, and no where to be... just RIDE!

Another beautiful day and we have a rough plan

We head out towards the Sella at the east end of Canazei and climb up to Pordoi.

weather? gorgeous!

we also did Campolongo and Gardena, essentially going around in a big circle.
three passes down just like that... sweet

the Edelweiss tour squad rolled in... all very "unique"


never get tired of these views

auto focus let me down.. oh well


happy girl

I caught Michelle checking in with a colleague in the Netherlands.... ciao Daniella! :wave

Passo San Pellegrino?

I love this area!

classic shot

time for cafe

happy camper

Back towards Arabba?

when we got back the sky was full of these guys

we went for a walk after dinner through the town
Michelle corrupting youth....

another great day. a fantastic birthday!!
couple of hundred k's though pass after pass. couldn't ask for better. our waitress, who spoke very little English, actually came & sang happy birthday at dinner :clap

life is sweet. :thumb

g容g 09-27-2011 03:47 PM

Day Five

After a tremendous day of riding in the Dolomites with my new fianc嶪!! we had a plan to head south....
my company has an office in Torbole, and every fall we have our sales meeting there. I had been a couple of years ago, and being as it's a beautiful place, I wanted to show Michelle.

the plan

ready baby?
(I'd brought her bike around from the garage and carried down the luggage (who says an old dog can't learn new tricks?) :evil

bye Dolomites, I would stay forever if I had the chance :cry

railing south.. damn its warm

Kevin will love this: blind Greg + road closed + Garmin detour = PRICELESS!

ok, almost sorted

on the road again


Michelle leading

Vivi La Vita... yup, you betcha... how can you not when the country is so beautiful?

close to Lago di Garda.. but not yet

we finally make it in to town. we actually have a RESERVATION!! at Hotel Santoni (the place we stay during the sales meetings). A really cool place, nice bar at night and great breakfast.

we realize 30+ C and long pants = :(:
so we go into town & grab some suitable clothes

sunset at Garda

I think I have brought Michelle to the most beautiful place in the world!

not a crazy long day, and no real passes to speak of... but we had a damn good time. I have video of Michelle passing trucks like an Italian (aka Lunatic) but that will have to wait.


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