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Old 07-25-2009, 09:23 AM   #76
MichaelJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slartidbartfast
I only discovered later that we missed the "best" part of the old road with steep and tightly packed hairpin bends.
You missed this part?



Shame on you!

I love "La Tremola" - great sense of history. I ride it almost every chance that I get (I skipped riding it one time so that I could get the photo above).
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Old 07-25-2009, 02:31 PM   #77
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Yeah - that's the bit we missed. ...and it was still an awesome, fun ride up the new pass road. I'll have to make sure I go back to ride "La Tremola"
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:04 PM   #78
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Over the top!

Pimpdaddy spotted a Goldwing and we chatted to the riders - a couple from St. Petersburg, Russia.


We were so happy to find that the store underneath the edge of the road (nicely not blocking the view, thank you very much) had stickers that we celebrated with a diet coke. It had been roasting hot at the bottom of the pass but now there was a chill wind blowing.




Photo-call over, the last stretch to the top was over quickly and we crested the pass and started down the other side almost before we knew what had happened.




A couple of miles down, the new and old roads meet up again so we doubled back on the old road, headed for the top once more.


Ms. Bling had been worried about the cobbled roads since before we left Louisiana. It seems someone had told her that she would automatically fall off the second her tires hit a road surface consisting of those horrid little death traps. Well she showed them! . This section of cobbles had bumps and ridges, water, snow and horse shit - often several of those at a time and nobody fell off, slipped, slid or crashed.


Somebody managed to scoop up a handful as they passed a snowbank and Dewnmoon got it dumped down his neck as they were riding


It was bloody cold at the top with a bitter wind, so we took a couple of "Hey look at us!" shots and quickly headed for warmer altitudes.


The north side of St. Gotthard, down toward Andermatt has a totally different character but is every bit as exciting to ride. In no time at all, we were pulling up at the hotel.




Pretty sure this is a vent for the tunnel, half-a-mile below
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Old 07-27-2009, 06:06 PM   #79
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Can't get enough...

Back in Andermatt, I went for a walk with my camera.


Oberalp Pass






Got back to find Mrs. Dewnmoon and Ms. Bling enjoying a relaxing drink in front of the hotel - They claimed it was only coffee and hot chocolate... Sure!


Mr. and Mrs. Pimpdaddy and Dewnmoon hadn't had enough riding so they decided to go back to Furka pass in the hope it would not be foggy. It wasn't and they came back after only 30 or 40 minutes absolutely raving about it. Something tells me they hadn't been plodding along looking at the view all the way though.




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Old 07-28-2009, 04:13 PM   #80
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I was in the lobby trying to post some pics when the pass strafers returned. We found Mr. & Mrs. Tubastew and decided to eat in the hotel. Just as we were sitting down, there was some noise outside and we found the town band striking up. Tubastew vanished immediately and didn't return until mid way through the meal, having been chatting with the tuba players (Sheesh!... These wind instrument players are almost as bad a bloody firemen.)






Over dinner, we traded tales of the day. Another utterly magnificent day of riding.



Three passes (four for some of us) but only about 120 miles. I'm beginning to realize that the quality of a day's riding is usually inversely proportional to the distance covered.
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Old 07-28-2009, 04:16 PM   #81
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A few thoughts...

As MC instructors in Louisiana, we spend a lot of time trying to convince people of the importance of cornering technique. The penalties for getting it wrong up here could be dire, although the authorities still feel the need to give bikers further reminders.


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Old 07-29-2009, 09:47 PM   #82
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Sunday June 21

I can't believe the trip is more than half over already. Time flies when you're having fun!

After a hearty breakfast of croissant, cheese and ham (and Swiss muesli, of course) we bade farewell to Mrs & Mrs Tubastew once again, agreeing to meet them at the ferry. The bikes were soon packed and after another fuel stop, we pointed the bikes up the Oberalp Pass again.




Part way up, I couldn't resist the idea of capturing the group and the stunning view in one shot






There seemed to be an awful lot of other bikes - and tractors on the road today. Hmmm... must be a Sunday thing.


Coming down the other side of the pass, we saw a large group of exotic Italians going the other way. You'd probably expect highly skilled driving from this bunch but a couple of them appeared to be having a lot of trouble just staying on their side of the road.

I think I started out with a quiet whistle... "Wheeeew!... Niiiiice!..." but soon switched to "A***hole! Get over!".

Well the bad karma caught up with me an hour further down the road when I discovered my back tyre was low. It seems the patch-plug installed a year ago (after I rode 2000+ miles around Britain with a sticky string plugging a hole) had been cut too long and had been pushed back into the tire enough to break the seal inside. "Should have bought that new tyre before the trip" I told myself. Dealing with a flat, out here on a Sunday could really upset our plans.
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Old 08-23-2009, 03:32 AM   #83
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Of bikers and tractors

Phew! A VERY long and boring flight finally allowed time to process a few more photos for uploading. Here's the next installment of The Louisiana Motorcycle Instructors VERY Unofficial European Tour

I stretched the leaking plug out with a pair of pliers and trimmed it down a bit. After that, it wasn't bubbling too badly so I aired the tire back up and crossed my fingers! I can always put another string plug in it - and there's no real alternative today anyway. I resolve to check the pressure every time we stop.


We got stuck behind the Swiss version of a badass gang of weekend warriors. They're not just a US phenomenon it seems This group looked like they'd been camping.


At Ilanz, we turned right off the main route down the Rhine valley onto a smaller road, reportedly used mainly by locals. It climbed up the side of the valley and took us through a number of small villages and past alpine meadows with small barns and spectacular views across the valley. We also passed several more old tractors - There seemed to be an awful lot of them on the road.


Rounding a corner on the outskirts of the village of Versam, there were a number of bikes pulled up on either side of the road. There was a gasthaus right there, which I quickly deduced must also serve food. In accordance with the Goldwinger's creed - "Where there are bikes parked, there must be good things to eat!", we made a quick U-turn and found some space alongside the other bikes.


Looking at the parked bikes, we noted that someone had had a bad day...


Like flies drawn to honey, a couple more bikes pulled up as we were walking inside. The group already eating turned out to be an friendly bunch; an informal club out for one of their regular weekend rides. We had to explain ourselves. They were jealous of our vacation trip and we were jealous that they have it all in their back yard


Pimpdaddy was unaccountably fascinated with the tubes of mustard and mayonnaise on the table


Appetites satiated, we came across one of the local bikers, pulling up just as we were putting helmets and gloves on, preparing to depart


While I was checking the pressure in The Duchess' rear tire, yet another tractor rumbled past. OK, this was getting silly. Just what was going on with all these old tractors all over the place? Pimpdaddy knew...
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Old 08-23-2009, 03:55 AM   #84
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The road less travelled

Chatting in the gashaus, Pimpdaddy learned that there had been a vintage tractor rally and we had been encountering the attendees making their way home all day. Mystery solved!

The road surface on this route had been rather variable with several portions dug up altogether. Now it was getting rougher with loose gravel on the corners - but it wasn't getting worse - It was getting better. This is a road made for motorcycles! Not far from Versam, the road descends a series of tight switchbacks and we suddenly found ourselves looking across a deep, narrow canyon, spanned by a slender arched-steel bridge


Just over the bridge we stopped to have a look around. The walls of the canyon were sheer and crumbling. It looked as if the edge of the road and a few trees had traded places with some empty space several hundred feet below - quite recently too




A group of tractors we had passed some time before lunch caught up with us




For a back road, supposedly used mainly by locals, there were certainly a lot of people like ourselves, traversing it for recreational purposes


A couple of corners further on, and we found ourselves not at the top but half-way up a steep, crumbly cliff.


For the next mile or so, the views across the Rein valley were spectacularly unencumbered by almost anything in the foreground.


The guard rail was low with gaps in places - riding close to the edge was virtiginous indeed! Acrophobics and bathophobics need not apply!


This part was so much fun I had to turn around and ride it again - but of course there were the tractors...
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Old 08-25-2009, 06:27 PM   #85
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finally got around to saying great report!!! now drag your butts home start teaching some of these people how to ride!!
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Old 11-09-2009, 07:09 AM   #86
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Hi Coonass!

We've been back for ages - and no teaching going on at the moment due to moving program to Dept Public Safety. I might have time to post a little more of the ride report this week however...
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Old 11-09-2009, 09:49 AM   #87
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Cows and curves

Right after the wonderfully twisty, cliff-hugging section, Versamerstrasse enters the woods and becomes dead straight for a mile or so - Talk about a contrast!

In Bonaduz, we came across a painted cow. The Swiss have an obsession with these things and they pop up all over the place.


Turning South, we made our way up the Hinterrhein valley and after only about five miles where the river and valley forks, took the left fork toward Tiefencastel. where we aimed south again, headed for the Julier Pass. The road was dry and smooth and progressed with one sweeping curve after another - a dance with the asphalt that really showed what The Duchess was made for. A little pressure on the handlebars and she dropped gracefully to one side and then the other, with sufficient poise to feel confident, and enough torque to comfortably accelerate from each apex towards the next, purring the whole time.


Most of the route since topping the Oberalp so far had been along typical alpine valleys, steep sided with small villages clinging to the hillsides wherever the slope was small enough to allow meadow grass to thrive.


As we began to gain altitude, the clouds dropped to meet us and the temperature began to fall rapidly.


I smugly tweaked on the heated handlebar grips, knowing that several of the others had no such luxury. Thankful for The Duchess' fairing, I was able to continue enjoying the road. We passed through Cunter and a few miles further on, a series of short hairpin bends brought the road above the Marmorera dam and alongside the reservoir.

As we were leaving the quaint alpine town of bivio, the road was obviously climbing again and we pulled over so the ladies could add layers and make other adjustments. I sat on The Duchess, eagerly waiting to get moving again and quietly plugged in my heated jacket. It started to rain!
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Old 11-10-2009, 02:29 PM   #88
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The Duchess shows her mettle

As we pulled out to head up onto Julia Pass, a couple of sport bikes went past. The whole time we had been in the Alps, we had been strafed by sportbikes - their owners skilled and daring, and with better knowledge of the roads than us tourists. Now I tend to ride a bit conservatively when I'm 1000+ miles from home, and The Duchess is neither the most powerful, nor best handling bike on the roads. So it was quite a surprise to me to find us quickly right up behind the two bikes that just passed us. These guys were pussy-footing around the corners, obviously very much out of their comfort zones and lacking confidence in their tyres. I decided it was time for The Duchess to regain a little respect


No too far up the road, the rain started to get hard... not hard as in more rain but hard as in solid bits rather than wet drops. A little bit further and it was apparent we were being snowed upon. At just this point, one of the familiar "Hospiz" signs appeared on the left so, smelling pass stickers and anticipating the ladies might want to add yet MORE layers, I swung in.

For Louisiana flat-landers, snow in June is an added thrill, even in the Alps.




Nobody was dying of cold but it seemed like a nice opportunity to indulge in some hot chocolate




Over the pass, the snow stopped and within three or four miles, we had made our way down to Silvaplana.


We made our way north alongside Lake Silvaplana, very quickly reaching St. Moritz, our planned stopping point for the day. The next hour or so was spent in a frustrating search for a reasonably-priced hotel. I had heard that St. Moritz was expensive but had no idea there would be NO reasonably-priced hotels, motels or hostels in the area at all. After trying several places, we were advised to make our way back south to Silvaplana and beyond. A bit more messing about led us past Lake Sils and down the short, steep and tight hairpins of Maloja Pass to the town of Casaccia, where we were directed to a strange old building with a dorm room on the fifth floor - up endless flights of beautiful wide stairs. There we found a what can best be described as a massive bunkbed - wide enough for six or eight people on top and bottom. There was one small window looking out onto the road below. No sheets were provided, only scratchy woolen blankets but as we are all cheapskates, the price of 25 Euros per head, as opposed to 150 anywhere else, sealed the deal.






In a somewhat familiar scenario, the proprietor first indicated that there was no evening meal to be had but then proceeded to rustle up a delicious meal of soup, salad, crusty bread and a nice bottle (ok, maybe two) of red wine.


Predictably, the whole bunkbed scenario gave us numerous opportunities for silly behavior and much hilarity ensued.
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Old 11-10-2009, 07:24 PM   #89
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The day's route

Another full day, mostly spent in the saddle (or so it seemed), yet we covered no more than 120 miles
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Old 11-10-2009, 07:27 PM   #90
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A few more thoughts...

Traveling with five bikes gives any kind of stop the potential for major disruption. Every time I pause for a few seconds to take a quick photo, it breaks everyone's rhythm, and then if someone else decides to remove their helmet or get off their bike, the short pause turns into a ten minute break. Also, if I feel like goosing the throttle and blasting up a couple of straights between the bends, it takes a while for some of the others to catch back up (OK that does not happen too often as The Duchess is by far the slowest bike in the group.) However, if we get to a turn and have to wait for the straggler(s), that can lead to further delays, etc. Once we add Alpine passes to the mix, there are stops to shop for stickers and other souvenirs, look at the view, etc. Of course, a delay of any sort increases the likelihood that Ms. Bling will need to eat or pee - and there's another chunk of time eaten up.

Still, we aren't exactly in a hurry and everyone seems to be having too much fun to care. It does give me a new appreciation for anyone leading a big group - I am being followed by several very experienced and competent riders. If there were novices or anyone lacking the confidence to keep up the pace on these roads, it would be frustrating indeed.
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