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Old 09-05-2009, 10:15 AM   #1
Steelybeast OP
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Two-up, Two-wheels, Two-gether in: Switzerland

The time has finally arrived to post our first ride report as we just returned last week from an incredible trip.

We have been riding a Honda ST1300 and put 25k+ miles on it the past two years, touring around the South and it keeps getting better every day. One day we started talking about going somewhere else to ride, in a place far, far away. I believe one of the top five dream destinations for motorcyclists is somewhere in the Alps. After considering a couple other places & costs, we decided on Switzerland. While not as adventurous as most here in the asylum, we decided to stay in Zurich and make day trips from there each day with the exception of one overnight trip to Andermatt, where the most excellent riding is located.

I know, you are all going - stay in one place???

Our reason is we had many Hilton points so we could stay there for a week including breakfast & evening drinks with snacks for free. Everything is expensive there compared to the states, so the price was right and we did not regret that decision. We would ride different directions each day and see what we could during each days route. It also gave us a place to leave all the luggage and other items we took and did not need while riding.

We have traveled to other countries before, so this part was not new except most everything being in German. Now our exposure to the German Language thus far, has been limited to watching the old Hogan’s Heroes TV show from the seventies so we know this will be an experience

We first needed to find a motorcycle and after a lot of research, I found a local Honda Dealer in Zurich called Holliger. The bike we decided on was a Honda CBF1000 which is not available here in the USA, which required me to research it on the forums to be sure it would work for two-up riding. It’s an I-4 with just under 100hp, small fairing & had a trunk which is all we needed. The cost was very reasonable compared to some others we looked at which mostly rented BMW and some Harley’s. I would have liked to have experienced a Beemer for a week, but at 960chf a week for the Honda, it proved to be a good choice for our intended riding.

With that reserved we started reading ride reports, asking questions, picked up a copy of John Hermann’s book, and planned our routes. We would go several different directions from Zurich so we could see a little of everything in the area such as a small part of France and the Black Forest in Germany. The we would head South for rides on the passes. Except for a little traffic around Zurich in the morning and evenings, the hotel in Zurich worked out well for this trip. We knew there was no way we could see everything, especially staying in Zurich. My belief is to see what you can, when you can, than see none of it in person at all.

First thing you will conclude: It is hard to take a bad picture in the Alps so narrowing this down to just 250 was not easy

I did run the pictures through a program to make them smaller for faster loading, however if it gets to be too many, let me know.

We also suffered from a picture gremlin. You know, the one that jumps into what would have been a extraordinary, award winning photo, if it had not appeared at the last minute, spoiling the shot - We have named him IS-16 and you will see him a few times as he can be faster than camera shutter.

This will take a good week at least to post the report and we will try and add some each day, so enough foreplay, on with the report……..


David & Ellen
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Old 09-05-2009, 10:49 AM   #2
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Looking forward to hearing about the good spots since I'm heading over there myself later this month. Cheers!
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Old 09-05-2009, 10:55 AM   #3
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Saturday

We had a long flight ahead of us on that Friday evening after work. The plane left Atlanta at 4:30pm and arrived around 8:00am Zurich time. Since we can not sleep on a plane and would be up all night, the only goal for Saturday was get the bike and return to the hotel in one piece. We would hang out there and walk around the area with the intentions of going to bed early to adjust to the time and catch up on sleep.

So off to the train station to go down a couple of stops, get off and walk the rest of the way to Holligier which was only about one mile. Signed all the paper work and we were finally off and riding..... the wrong way down a one way street So far so good.....

Actually the street behind Holligier's exit in the back of the shop, did not have a direction sign and of course we picked the wrong route. No problem though as we found out the other drivers were not just blowing their horns at the Americans, welcoming us to Zurich, but to let us know we were going the wrong way.

It was a short street though and brought us to the first intersection. The next thing you realize is they don't bother to put up red lights or other traffic control signals for those going the wrong way down a one way street. Hmmmmm. No problem, just take a right, roll on the throttle and we are on our way once again.

It was an experience riding in a new city, on a different bike, after no sleep in about 30 hours. Keeps you on your edge. We made it back to the hotel which which was only about 6 miles and a couple of round-abouts.

This brings us to the first pictures of the trusty steed, which shall takes us 1150+ miles through France, Germany, and Switzerland



A couple other things we planned for Saturday was to wire up the Zumo and run wires for our intercomm system. We had that finished in about one hour so todays's mission was complete.



I will tell you my wife and I spend all our time together that we possibly can. Two-up riding is just another thing we have come to enjoy. We are still all even after 25+ years. She rather ride on the back with me then ride her on ride and we are both happy with that arrangement.

One of the first things we noticed was how much longer the street and city names were compared to the USA. Here, where we live near Atlanta, we have names like Poplar Street or Pine Road. There you have names such as Schaffhauserstrasse, Thurgauerstrasse, and Flughofstrasse.

I am thinking, no worries, we have our trusty Zumo and Jill, the voice of speech-to-text for street names. Second thing you soon find out is that Jill is English and she can't even come close to speaking these street names. It made for some interesting directions listening to her through the intercomm.

The end of this day was winding down and time to kick back in the executive lounge with some snacks & drinks.

Tomorrow takes up North from Zurich, a little into France & Germany.

David & Ellen
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Old 09-05-2009, 11:09 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steelybeast
One of the first things we noticed was how much longer the street and city names were compared to the USA. Here, where we live near Atlanta, we have names like Poplar Street or Pine Road. There you have names such as Schaffhauserstrasse, Thurgauerstrasse, and Flughofstrasse.
Heck - in Atlanta, everything's named Peachtree something or other - you only have one street name to learn

Glad to hear that you made it over, had fun, and made it back. Definitely looking forward to your trip report.

Now... when's the next trip over?
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Old 09-05-2009, 12:02 PM   #5
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Sunday

We were up early this morning and ready to start this adventure. We have several routes planned and loaded up in the GPS. Since this was the first real riding day in a different country and on a different bike, we decided the trip North would be in good order. The route would not take us across many mountains and appeared to be more flat, farm country.



We would ride towards Mullhouse-France, then over to the Black Forest area and back down to the hotel. About 200 miles by the time we returned and went thru a couple of road construction detours.

First shots as we head out on the highway and away from the city. I also see a sign for one of the many tunnels coming up ahead. We soon determined the Swiss love to build tunnels. Sometimes I think they dump large truckloads of rocks on the side of a mountain, just so they can add another tunnel



... and no ride-report-with-tunnels would be complete with out the obligatory, inside the tunnel shot.



This area is mostly flat with some small mountains in the background. This was no surprise to us as we had looked at it on Google earth when planing the trip. We did notice how green all the plants were so one would assume they get a decent amount of rain.





This route takes us in and out of France, Germany & Switzerland several times along the way. Other than the initial border crossing over into France in which everyone just drove past, the only way we could tell we were crossing country lines was the GPS. Coming back into Switzerland, everyone stopped at the border, then just continued on their way. We seen a border patrol officer in the booth and one would only assume that unless he signaled you to pull over, you just went on.

When we rode into the first town one of the first things you notice is the Church. This seemed to be the norm in every town we rode into. There was almost always a big Church with a tall steeple which was the tallest structure there. I also noticed they all had a clock on the steeple which was a typical centerpiece around a town square.




As we rode out of town we went back into farm land. We did not expect to see as much corn being grown there. This looked like a typical mid-west farm we have here in the States.



Traveling further away from the city we come upon a speed limit sign. I am thinking woo-hoo, triple digit speed limits.



Now all the squids here in the States are thinking and all the Swiss are going

Later on, I found out something else about the signs and where they are posted so for those in the know, wait until later. But, I do remember reading on the Swiss transportation WEB site that has the traffic rules and signs that there are assumed speeds on all the roads there. The same thing is here in the States, but there are differences.



The lanscape is starting to get more interesting at this point. I believe we are in Germany and getting close, if not already into the Black Forrest.








At this point, I am thinking: Curve, small mountains, rocks, tunnel - the ride is about to get more interesting......





... or not. Back to the flat areas. Now I will say, I enjoy all kinds of scenery, especially when riding a motorcycle. Any change is landscape is just an opportunity to see something different. One thing we wanted to see was how much different this area was from the southern area around the Alps.



I am not sure how much more I can add in this post, so will close it and go to a new one.

David & Ellen
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Old 09-05-2009, 12:36 PM   #6
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Sunday #2

As we ventured on into the Black Forrest, we arrive at Lake Titisee. Something about that name I like but can't put a finger on it







Through out the trip we noticed there was not a lot of good stopping places on the side of the roads to take pictures. The majority of what we took were from the bike while traveling and came out well considering the tripple-digit-speeds. There was so many places we seen along the way, especially around the Alps that I longed for a place to stop and wished I had my Canon digital SLR with big lenses. Almost every where you looked was a good photo opportunity as you will see later in the report.

We noticed a lot of flower boxes everywhere we went so a couple pictures of those for the botanist's.





We ended up taking a detour around one of the small towns due to the road being closed for repairs. While it was unplanned, it was an opportunity to see some more countryside.





We started to see more of the scenery that is typical of pictures we see on the internet. A small town down in the valley. This is a common sight almost everywhere we went.






We believe at this point, we were Germany when we came across this grape vineyard.






This was a nice slow ride, winding through the vineyards. It looked like they were getting close to being ready to harvest. Who knows, we may be sitting at a restaurant in a few months, enjoying a nice glass of vino that came from these very grapes.



A couple of river shots as we turn South and head back towards Zurich.





Monday's route takes us South from Zurich. This where we start seeing the pictures of the Alps that everyone is waiting for. I am glad we did get to see these areas on Sunday and gave us an opportunity to test the bike before hitting the passes down there.

I will say the CBF1000 is a nice bike. Plenty of power for two-up riding and with the optional saddle bags & top case, it would make a nice little shorter-ride touring machine.

David & Ellen
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Old 09-05-2009, 03:11 PM   #7
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Can't wait for more, even though I know how it ends.
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Old 09-05-2009, 04:03 PM   #8
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Monday

..day two, the adventure continues........

The ride on Sunday was just a teaser for the upcoming routes we had planned and we knew it. As we awoke early this morning and looked out the window at the rising sun, I am sure I could hear the theme from 2001 - A Space Odyssey. It was the start of a new day with a new adventure.

The planned route for today would take us across Pragelpasse and Klausenpasse along with other scenic areas.



Before we get to the passes, we have to make a few water crossing as we are working our way out of Zurich. It only takes about 20 minutes to get away from the traffic and on to better riding.







We encounter the first of several road construction red lights. At least while we were waiting for the light change, we had good scenery to look at.




We continue on down the highway, soaking up the scenery and fresh air and enjoying that feeling we all get when ride. We notice more and more homes that are nestled in green pastures and at the bottom of mountains or lakes.










In the distance, we can see we are finally getting closer to our destination of the Alps. Gives you that tingly feeling all down your leg, just knowing what lies ahead.







Of the many pictures we have taken up to this point, this is one of my favorites. You have a ribbon of smooth road justing waiting for all the riders that will pass over it today. The sides are lined with green pastures with a backdrop of mountains.









As good as these pictures came out, it can not do justice to the experience of looking all around you, and this was on all sides.



At this point in our ride we are approaching Ibergeregg. I remember this beacause we had a picture of the sign







We decided to stop here and stretch for a bit. When we removed our helmets, we heard the first sounds of cow bells all across the pasture. There was almost complete silence, except for the ringing of these bells. For those who have been here and heard them the first time, know what we mean.

Watching the cows walk around and hearing what reminded me of a dinner bells, I started get hungry. There just happened to be a little hotel on this hill with an outdoor restaurant. It had a great view for eating lunch.



We sat down with a menu and decided hamburger was to be the selection for lunch. I am not sure if it was from watching all the cows walking around, or it was about the only thing we could make out in German

The required picture of at least one meal. For those wondering, a beef patty with fries can be had for only 14chf plus a drink.



But how can you put a price on such a small thing such as food, when you have this scenery to enjoy as you dine.



Next up, we leave the restaurant and start riding more into these beautiful mountains.

David & Ellen
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Old 09-05-2009, 04:22 PM   #9
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Intermission.....

This seems like a good place to mention a couple observations we had while visting Switzerland. Some of these will be visible in the pictures we took and probably taken for granted.

We noticed every where we visted, be it in the small parts of Zurich we actually seen or out in the country, it is a very clean place. You did not see trash along the sides of their roads, even in the city. I am sure there is probably areas somewhere with this problem, but we never seen them.

They are proud of their flag as I don't recall visiting another country that displays it in so many places. From the bigger city to the smallest town, we seen it almost everywhere.

For the most part, their drivers observe the rules of the road and seem to be good drivers. In the 1150+ miiles we covered, we only came across one accident down near Andermatt.

While we did not really carry on many conversations with anyone outside the hotels, everyone we meet was nice unlike some other parts of the world we have been. It is always impressive to hear those who can switch between multiple languages in a short conversation as we heard listening to the hotel workers in the lounge.

Ok, now back to the ride report
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Old 09-05-2009, 05:24 PM   #10
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Monday #2

After finishing off some beef & fries, we headed out towards Schwyz where the Swiss Army knife outlet store was located. The ride to there and through that town was a pleasure too.











Yes, it looks just like this in person. Only more spectacular







As we start into town, we see the familiar Church. Also, our picture gremlin, IS-16 tried to sneak into the picture.


There was some interesting artwork on the outside of this building. We seen this in a several areas we rode into. I think it gives it more character than just bricks or stones.



Out of town and heading towards Pragelpasse.









Now that we are in a part of the Alps, we start seeing streams and lakes that are fed by the melting snow or glaciers.





I also started noticing how the landscape of the mountains started showing distinct changes the further up you went. At a certain point, it changed from trees to rocks. I am not sure if this was from temperature change at higher elevations like you see in the Colorado Rocky mountains here in the States, or that part of the mountain has just eroded away the soil and only rock was left. One can't help but wonder how these same mountains looked a few thousand years ago.









This looks one of those pictures you would see in the back of Roadrunner magazine of submitted reader photos. We actually had one of our pictures published back there in December of last year , but back to the story at hand.






I thought the rolling hills and ditches made this an interesting shot instead of the usual smooth fields seem most everywhere else.




... Eat more Chikin' one of many cows we came across roaming the roads, close enough to reach out and touch. Of course with all these cows wandering around and crossing the road, they also leave you some obstacles to practice your MSF course maneuvring skills





So as we round the corner, a majestic mountain appears in the near distance. A quick attempt was made to capture this moment, only to be spoiled by IS-16, the picture gremlin.



But faster than a speeding bullet and quicker than you can write a digital photo to a flash card, Mrs STeelybeast was able to pull off a second shot.



I know what everyone is thinking now. Why are we riding up someone's driveway to their house? But this is no driveway, this a road for two lane traffic, be it motorcycles, cars, or trucks

More to come in the next post.

David & Ellen
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Old 09-06-2009, 09:19 AM   #11
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Monday #3

The next several miles was an adventure in itself. We passed several cars in which there was barely enough room for both of us. After coming across a truck at one point in front of us, there was several times where the oncoming car backed up so it could pass. The scenery & riding was worth it all.









In lokking around at this area, I realized there did not seem to be a lot of off road opportunites in the area, only paved roads. We did see a few in some places, but not as many as I expected.



We could see a bright green lake in the distance. The closer we got to it, the more it seemed to glow.














We knew Route 66 was a long highway, but never thought about it going all the way to Switzerland



As we head towards the next small town, you can see the Church once again above all the other structures.




...and one of the first views of a sweeper.....





It does make me wonder how far you could travel down in the valley, from town to town before you have to go up and over a mountain to get out.



Another Church up on a hill, above the rest.



Endless riding opportunities as far as the eye can see.



This little area was a stopping point for a lot of riders. Once you had your helmet off, you were greeted my the sounds of cow bells everywhere.





After this stop, you start back up and over the mountain you could see the fun stuff in a distance.





At the top of this mountain was snow, but also a glacier.



The waterfall at the bottom was from the melting glacier. How many millions of years has this process be going on, that helped carve out this landscape.



David & Ellen
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Old 09-06-2009, 01:19 PM   #12
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My good friend lives near Mullhouse, France. Last Year We had a chance to do a small ride through the French and German countryside. I rode his old ride a 1993 BMW K-75 while he rode his newer ride a Ducati 900.
After that I was smitten. I came home and purchased my first bike in 24 Years. Now I have 2. I was hoping to make it back for more riding this year, but finances have thwarted me thus far.
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Old 09-07-2009, 02:45 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by MichaelJ
Now... when's the next trip over?
The riding over there is the best we have done so far and there is many more places to see. We think the next riding trip out of the country though, will be somewhere different like British Columbia. Never been to Canada and has my interest. We have been to New Zealand, but not riding a bike, and that would also be an top five place to ride for scenery.

Rumor around the asylum is you are thinking about or have already bought a bike to keep over there? That is an excellent idea and saves the rental costs if you make several trips.
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Old 09-07-2009, 03:27 AM   #14
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Tuesday

We still had one day that was unplanned and it ended up being today. They were reporting an 80% chance of rain and possible thunderstorms, so we did not really want to ride a lot of miles unless it improved. I don't mind riding in the rain, but no reason to subject yourself to a possible human lightning rod if you don't have too. Of course the same scientists that say the world's temperature will rise one degree the next century because of global warming, can't acurately predict the next 24 hour weather very well

After hanging around the hotel and finishing off some more expresso, we noticed the sky started to clear up. We never did get rain that day but just decided to ride over towards lake Bodensee and check out that area, eat lunch and return early.



In the small towns, they sometimes put statues and other artwork in the round abouts.



I bet you didn't see this one coming











Still impressed with how clean everything was in this country. Not a lot of photos on this short day and glad we rode over that direction to see ths small towns. Back down south the next three days towards the passes & Andermatt.

David & Ellen
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Old 09-07-2009, 04:13 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steelybeast
Rumor around the asylum is you are thinking about or have already bought a bike to keep over there? That is an excellent idea and saves the rental costs if you make several trips.
Yup - I shipped my old '93 GSX1100G over with Stefan Knopf in March. It's being stored at his Heidelberg facility. So far, I'm out $1,500 for shipping and a year's storage.

We were reunited in July for 3 weeks (Trip report here) and my calculator shows that I would have spent in the vicinity of $3,000 for a rental for the period. It did help having a spare bike hanging around the garage

Loved your pics of the Pragel and Klausen passes and the Klontallersee at the bottom of the Pragel. It's one of my favorite routes and I regret that I didn't get to ride it this year.

Oh yeah - I think that you're right about the Swiss and tunnels.

The Italians aren't far behind, unfortunately.

On your next trip over there, consider basing out of the dolomites - Arabba or Corvara in Badia will give you 4 to 5 days of superb riding. In any direction.
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