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Old 07-31-2013, 09:31 PM   #1
roma258 OP
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Milan-Marseille-Alps in September?

Hey folks, long story short, wife and I are planning one last trip before having kids and ruining our lives forever Original plan was going to South America (since neither of us has ever been), but I recently got a line on a bike that a local guy has stored in Milan, which made the decision super easy. So we're looking at some time in mid, to late-September. The initial very rough outline has us riding down to the South of France, then up into the Alps into Switzerland and back down into Milan.

So I guess my question is, first of all, how's the weather that time of year? I'm thinking Italy and south of France should be fine, but not so sure about the Alps and the elevation. Would hate to get caught in a freak snow storm (bad memories of getting caught up in Yosemite wet cold rain and snow, in late May). Other than that, just any suggestion for must ride roads, awesome towns to visits, etc... Thanks in advance, I'm super stoked and really looking forward to this. Definitely a bucket list ride.
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:55 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roma258 View Post
Hey folks, long story short, wife and I are planning one last trip before having kids and ruining our lives forever Original plan was going to South America (since neither of us has ever been), but I recently got a line on a bike that a local guy has stored in Milan, which made the decision super easy. So we're looking at some time in mid, to late-September. The initial very rough outline has us riding down to the South of France, then up into the Alps into Switzerland and back down into Milan.

So I guess my question is, first of all, how's the weather that time of year? I'm thinking Italy and south of France should be fine, but not so sure about the Alps and the elevation. Would hate to get caught in a freak snow storm (bad memories of getting caught up in Yosemite wet cold rain and snow, in late May). Other than that, just any suggestion for must ride roads, awesome towns to visits, etc... Thanks in advance, I'm super stoked and really looking forward to this. Definitely a bucket list ride.

How long do you intend to be in that area?

Why Marseille?

What level of riding are you comfortable with?

September is my preferred month for the mountains. Crowds have thinned, the temps are just right. You'd have to be very unlucky to catch any cold weather but even in that case you can ride lower roads. Go to this site for starters: http://www.alpineroads.com/ There is a lot to digest.
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Old 08-01-2013, 11:29 AM   #3
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How long do you intend to be in that area?
I'd like to take 10 days, American vacations aren't exactly the most generous. So about 7 days of riding, give or take. Also don't wanna overdo on seat time. Would like to keep the days under 200 miles, so we can take our time to explorem instead of rushing to make the distance (something I've almost always done in the past).
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Why Marseille?
Marseille is just a way point really for the South of France. Could just as easily be Nice, or Provence, or some other place I haven't even thought of. What's wrong with Marseille though?

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What level of riding are you comfortable with?
I consider myself a pretty experienced rider. Been riding for 8 years, with trips to the Dragon, through West Virginia, down to Austin GP this year and up PCH for our honeymoon. Also do at least a couple track days every year.

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September is my preferred month for the mountains. Crowds have thinned, the temps are just right. You'd have to be very unlucky to catch any cold weather but even in that case you can ride lower roads. Go to this site for starters: http://www.alpineroads.com/ There is a lot to digest.
Awesome tips, still waiting to hear on the exact dates of the bike's availability, so it's good to know that September is a good time to go.

roma258 screwed with this post 08-01-2013 at 02:24 PM
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Old 08-01-2013, 02:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roma258 View Post
I'd like to take 10 days, American vacations aren't exactly the most generous. So about 7 days of riding, give or take. Also don't wanna overdo on seat time. Would like to keep the days under 200 miles, so we can take our time to explorem instead of rushing to make the distance (something I've almost always done in the past.

MMarseille is just a way point really for the South of France. Could just as easily be Nice, or Provence, or some other place I haven't even thought of. What's wrong with Marseille though?


I consider myself a pretty experienced rider. Been riding for 8 years, with trips to the Dragon, through West Virginia, down to Austin GP this year and up PCH for our honeymoon. Also do at least a couple track days every year.


Awesome tips, still waiting to hear on the exact dates of the bike's availability, so it's good to know that September is a good time to go.

Marseille, unfortunately, has become a meeting place for organized crime, unorganized crime, it's dirty, it's local government loses a handful of their leaders every year due to corruption and worse. IMO, there is no good reason for going there.

I'm trying to sort out a few routes that you could do in your 7 days. Milan to the South of France is a day's ride on the autostradas, the Italian 'slab', and there isn't much to see enroute. However, if you want to go south, I'd recommend this: Milan to Turin to Briancon, France, on to Gap and then down the Route de Napoleon to Sisteron, Dignes, Grasse, and finish somewhere near the Med around Cannes, for example. There would still be lots of vacationers and the prices are crazy so stay out of the metro areas.

Now, for making your way back north, there is this: http://grande-traversee-alpes.com/en...-grandes-alpes. You have to see it to believe it and it's not easy going but if you're up to more twisties than a pretzel factory, give it a think.

North of Milano is the ground floor of heaven from which you can take your choice of going to the Alps. 200 miles a day in the Alps is doable but if you want to enjoy the whole trip, don't do it. There are too many places to stop for coffee and a pic or two. I like this site mainly because the scenic roads are highlighted in green and they are spot on. http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/
Now, all that said, I'd steer you first to the Swiss/Austrian Alps and even the Dolomites if you have only a week. It's like shooting fish in a barrel, you can't lose.
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Old 08-01-2013, 07:00 PM   #5
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A most sincere thank you! This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for and should keep me busy for the next month or so. Also, today I got confirmation of the dates that the bike's available, so it looks like this may actually be happening!
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Old 08-02-2013, 04:55 AM   #6
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September is my preferred month for the mountains. Crowds have thinned, the temps are just right.
Not to mention that the *$&*&@% haze has mostly disappeared, making for great photos.

Nothing like a series of photos of grey mountains merging with grey sky in the distance.

With the lighter grey of clouds and snow for contrast.
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Old 08-02-2013, 05:16 AM   #7
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Go for the advices of MichaelJ and RTLover ...
Here my 2cents : Shed Marseille - if you have not a special interest in it.

If you are looking for mountains - I'd would do this ride
Milan->Turin->Pinerolo by motorway , Val Chisone, Sestrieres (Assietta road if you like dirt+exceptional panorama) Briançon - This could be done in an afternoon.

Briançon->Col du Galibier->Col de l'Iseran->Cormet de Roselend-> Chamonix

Chamonix->Martigny->Aigle->Gstaad->Interlaken-> Sustepass or Grimselpass+Furka to Andermatt , but I rather stop in Disentis-Muster

Disentis-Muster _> St Moritz -> Passo Bernina -> Livigno-> Bormio ->Stelvio , stop anywhere in Vinschgau/Val Venosta

...Later will complete
If you are more interested in historical towns, cities and places tell me.
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Old 08-02-2013, 05:18 AM   #8
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North of Milano is the ground floor of heaven...
Amen, brother.

I took my kids over in '03 and somewhere in the first week, my elder son (who was road racing at the time) commented that he never thought that he'd be wanting a straight stretch of road while on a motorcycle.

It's the only place where you wear out the sides of your tread before the middle (MEZ-6):



I'd head north out of Milano to Andermatt (taking the old cobbled Tremola road over the St. Gottard) - leave Milano in the morning and be in Andermatt in time for lunch.

Book at least 3 nights in Andermatt - that gives you your first night, two full days of riding around the area and out on the 3rd day. This gives you a chance to slow down a bit, get used to the roads & customs and cope with jet lag (if that sort of thing bothers you). From there, you can head south down the Rhone valley into France or east to the Dolomites.

The Dolomites are in a very compact area (especially for riders used to USA distances) but pack more gorgeous scenery and roads into that area than one would think possible.

For the heck of it, I rode 18 passes in one day (from about 09:00 to 17:00) and would have made it 21, except for active thunderstorms on the last 3.

RTLover said 200 miles/day - 200kms/day is probably more realistic. You need to experience it to believe it.

And there are NO bad choices. Some are better than others, but none are bad.
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Old 08-02-2013, 12:07 PM   #9
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...Later will complete
If you are more interested in historical towns, cities and places tell me.
Great question. I think it it was just me, I'd ride for 8 or 9 days straight, maybe taking a day for a break. But since I'm taking my wife, we'll probably want to break things up a bit with some interesting towns/ maybe go hiking in one of the parks or something. So I'm definitely looking for a mix of great riding and interesting stuff to do other than just tearing up twisties. My plan is to take one day for myself and ride a bit more aggressively than I would with my wife on the back. Is Andermattthe kind of town where one can walk around for a day without getting bored, while I'm out having fun?
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Old 08-02-2013, 05:08 PM   #10
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Is Andermatt the kind of town where one can walk around for a day without getting bored, while I'm out having fun?
It's a very small town - soon to turn into a Swiss Disneyland when a couple of new hotels/apartments are completed and open (in a year or two). There are about a dozen or so shops, and she could take the train up to the Oberalp Pass or the ski lift gondola to the top of the mountain above the town.

It's a ski town that does bikes in the summer. Lots of hotels, though.

Shot from my bike a year or two ago: A pass through town.
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Old 08-02-2013, 05:31 PM   #11
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Is Andermattthe kind of town where one can walk around for a day without getting bored, while I'm out having fun?
Not. But there are lot of nice cities - Luzern or Chur could offer a lot to see



Luzern


Chur

As well Briançon more west


or Bozen and Brixen near Dolomites


All of them have lifts starting in the city to go hike around.
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Old 08-05-2013, 09:19 PM   #12
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Planning update- tickets and bike are booked! Flying out 9/8, back on 9/18. Looks like 7-8 solid days of riding! Case it's not obvious, I'm a little bit excited about this
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:43 PM   #13
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Potentially bad news, the loaner bike situation is a bit up in the air. Probably all good, but a chance I won't have access. Still planning on renting a bike, but would probably only swing a few days. Not catastrophic, but would be a bummer... will keep posted.
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:45 AM   #14
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I would definately go in the Dolomites direction.
They are compact as mentioned so you could stay in place for a few days and ride without luggage.
Switserland is great and has superb passes but is quite a bit more expensive than Italy.
French Alpes are awesome, pricewise between the others.

You good go from Milan over the Gothard and Nufenen passes to the Rhone Valley in Switzerland, or cut some off by taking the Simplon straight into the Rhone VAlley.
Cross ove the Big St-Bernard back into Italy and then from Aosta into France over the Small St.-Bernard or straight from Martigny on to Chamonix.
Play around in the French Alps a bit, head over to Aigle, in Switzerland again, over Saanen to Interlaken, Grimsel and Furka to Andermatt, from there over Oberalp and Julierpass to Sankt-Moritz.
Then either to Italy over Bernina, possibly Livigno and on to the Stelvio or, if you like a smooth ride, all teh way through Engadin, then Ofenpass onto Umbrail (3miles unpaved but solid) and Stelvio or over Norbertshöhe and the Reschenpass, beautiful scenery there at the lake.
Dolomites, a bit further east, are endless.

I personally feel 300kms/day is easily doable, but that just might be me.
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:16 PM   #15
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Flying out in 3 days!!!!
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