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Old 10-05-2009, 07:56 AM   #1
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KTM 990 SMT + 7 days + Austrian & Italian Alps = FUN!

First of all, a million thanks to all those who helped me with the planning here -

It all started last year when I was invited to Austria by Bajaj and KTM for a feel of what would be coming to India soon - READ. Though I hardly rode for like 200km, what I experience that day left a lasting impression in my heart and made me plan the ride of my life. After hundreds of emails and phone calls, the morning of 28th August saw me land in Salzburg, the capital of Austria. This was it – my first real solo ride outside India.

My previous interaction with the KTM guys helped a lot. They were very supportive about the whole ride and even went a step ahead and decided to give me the new 990 SMT for this week long trip. I couldnt have asked for me!

THE TRIP BEGINS: 28th August:
Mumbai - Zurich - Salzburg - Mattighofen - mondsee – st. gilgen – strobl - postlam – rigaus – golling – bischofshofen – dienten – lend – zell am see : 195km

Waiting at the Zurich airport in the morning for my connecting flight to Salzburg

My breakfast

Yes - thats a nice sign of things to come

Finally, its time to continue

Before starting my trip, i had requested my seat to be on the right so that i could have a glimpse of the Alps

Looking around for the Alps

Finally spotted them - yuppy!

When i landed in Salzburg, it took just around 10 minutes for me to see the orange KTM logo - thanks to Martin who was kind enough to have come to pick me up. We straight away left for the KTM factory, Mattighofen, around 30min away.

On the way, we stopped at a fuel pump to pick up something that helped me immensely - a road map :)

Fifteen mins later, we were there - a line up of KTM bikes including the sexy RC8 had me excited and then i saw it - the machine that would be my companion for the next one week - the beautiful SMT 990.

The KTM guys were nice enough to have three saddle bags and a tank bag ready for me. Yes, it took me a good twenty mins to put all my clothing in them and start rolling

This was it - the time had come. After months of planning, i was finally ready to hit the European highways, the Alpine curves and experience something completely different....

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Old 10-05-2009, 08:00 AM   #2
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Can't wait to see more. I'd love to do a tour like that on that bike.
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Old 10-05-2009, 08:17 AM   #3
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I had ridden and driven on the wrong side of the road on earlier occasions and hence it didnt take me long before getting used to the road rules here - completely opposite to what you have here in India. Yes, i was a little nervous and the first thing i did was get myself the ten day Austrian road tax sticker.

My plan for the day was to hit Zell Am See for the night. Martin had told me of a few good places to ride thru this day and the map made things easier for me. Within minutes, i couldnt help but stop for a photo-op

Clear skies and no hills? Yes, i was looking around for the Alps to start. And hence, i carried on...

Riding in Europe, specially this part can be fun as well as boring. Fear of speeding made me stick to the limit but at the same time, the inviting longish curves and the handling of the bike meant i was grinning inside my lid. Soon, i reached Mondsee lake and stopped for, yes, pictures!

The plan was to continue to Strobl, from where i would take a right through a private toll road and visit Postlam, from where i would get my first real good view of the Alps and boy was i loving this road...

There was hardly any traffic but soon i started coming across bikers - yes, there are more bikers on some roads than cars / vans / SUVs.. Postlam wasnt more than a small stop for tourists, but due to its height, the views were amazing. See for yourself..

After taking endless pictures and using my zoom lens to the max, i carried on, coming down from Postam and taking the small road to Rigaus. Enroute, clicked some more snaps

At Bischofshofen, i took the 164 to Dienten and then a right to Zell Am See via Lend.

I also came across my first mountain pass of the trip, though at just 553 meters above mean sea level, it was a little disappointing

Hotels in this part of the world look very very pretty

I continued ahead. I started feeling hungry and then came across a small resting area by the side of the road - a perfect place to grab a bite and also enjoy the bikers passing by

Bikers and cattle can be found in abundance in Europe

More views of the scenery around

Thats a sweeet house!

Finally after 195km, i reached Zell Am See. I had been to this lake side town on two occasions earlier. It did take me a good half hour to find a decent and cheap place for the night and finally when i found it, it was worth it.

39 Euros for bed and breakfast with my own balcony seemed worth it.

I walked to the nearby market and go myself a sandwich and a bottle of Ice tea for dinner. Also made calls back home and visited the lake

It started raining by the time i was back in my room - my biggest fear of the trip

The rain - view from my balcony!

View from the other window

I finally hit the bed at 8pm local time wondering how the day ahead would be in rains.... TO BE CONTINUED
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Old 10-05-2009, 08:23 AM   #4
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Old 10-05-2009, 08:46 AM   #5
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Old 10-05-2009, 10:40 AM   #6
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Thanks a zillion guys : im preparing the second day's log (text and pictures). I am sure u will love these too!
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Old 10-05-2009, 12:43 PM   #7
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DAY 2: Zell Am See-Mittersill-Lienz-Toblach-Brunico-Arabba: 250km (including Arabba-Corvara-Arabba at night)

My night at Haus Wilhelmina was quite cosy. However, outside, things were different. It was still raining and i really didnt know what was in store for me today. I was the first one to come down to the breakfast room but didnt feel like waiting for others as I wanted to get onto the road asap.


After having a combination of hot coffee, toast with salamis, i went out to see how the weather was. Next to my bike were parked two more motorcycles - later met the chaps who were also staying in the same place

While i was attaching the saddle bags to the bike, a couple happened to take notice of me. They were Bibleer and Sylvie Paquet, who were staying in another hotel in the city and had come here for breakfast. They too were on a bike and we chatted for a while about my trip plans

39 Euros for this place was a great deal

It was still drizzling when i hit the road. I was really hoping the plastic bags in the saddle bags would hold on and so would my jacket and boot too. At places, the drizzle would almost slow down into very fine droplets, but this lasted only for a few moments

Bikers were a common sight today - The Gixxer does look sexy

Rains also meant that the clouds were hugging the hills around

I decided to keep riding but soon, i started gaining altitude. Light drizzle turned into rain and suddenly, i felt cold water hitting my feet! Damn! The boots had given up - but in anycase, these werent really meant for touring. A line-up of tunnels started and it became increasingly difficult for me to keep riding in the heavy rain. The good thing about tunnels was that these were a little warm :)
I didnt know if the plastic bags were working fine and desperately looked around for shelter. Finally after passing like 4-5 tunnels, I saw a place probably meant for tourists to take rest (loo / seats / water etc).

I spent an hour here - waiting for the rains to slow down, munching on dry fruits for warmth and energy. Finally when the rains slowed down, and at around 11:30am, i decided to keep moving.

The fuel light came on at around 220-225km mark and i filled up at the first station : 18.02 Euros for 16.6 Liters - fuel for sure is expensive in this part of the world.

The skies cleared up for a while and i couldnt resist stopping for a few pics..

Leaving the storm behind

The rains and frequent pic stops meant i was getting a bit late. But at around 1:30pm, it started pouring cats and dogs and i immediately took shelter in a bus stop and so did a couple of other bikers too

Twenty mins later, i decided to move on with the rain gods still playing with me. By now, i was almost went to the bone and was shivering inside my riding gear. Half hour later, god seemed to take mercy on me and and as i rode down to Brunico, temperatures started rising. My right wrist finally was let loose for a while and it was surprising to see the SMT delivering so much fun on these kinda roads. The fast ride and warm weather helped dry me up a bit. I got lost for a while in Brunico and had no idea of the road to Arabba (via Corvara). So much so that i ended up taking a very small mountain road. I noticed a couple of hikers on the road and stopped to ask directions. Yes, i was going the wrong way and thanked them for help. However, as i was turning the bike around on the narrow and steep road, she stalled. Damn! With all that luggage, it was almost impossible for me to keep the SMT from falling off. Somehow i did manage and rode back to the main town. After asking two more people, i finally found the right road. Soon, i was in Corvara, a small cute hill town and after passing it, stopped for a pic and food break.

Ofcourse, that a self timer shot

This place where i stopped was simply lovely. I got a birds eye view of the Corvara town below and the numerous hair pin bends meant most bikers revved a lot in the first two gear - pure music to ears..

More pics of this place

Corvara town below

The curves

The ride after this was simply amazing. The SMT is a hoot around bends and curves. Wringing the throttle in 1st had the front wheel going airborne very easily. The short gearing meant acceleration was fantastic and its supermotard DNA made it super fun around the gentle as well as tight corners. I was enjoying the bike so much that i almost zipped past my 2nd pass of the trip without noticing it..

Arabba was just a few km more from here. I had already reserved Hotel Mesdi via Email and straight away headed there. The room was super cosy and the five lamp shades helped me dry my clothes

After a while, i decided to hit the market. Arabba is a small town that is often considering the gateway to the superb Dolomites (Italian Alps).. There was some kind of band in the city that day..

The band was loud, but these machines were louder

I feel in love with these kind of buildings and paintings on the wall

It was 13degrees in the evening.. and probably 8-9 at night

At i said earlier, Arabba is the preferred gateway to the Alpine roads nearby..

My hotel

When i got back to the room, i noticed that the camera battery was running out. And then it struck me - i had forgotten the universal electric socket pin back in India. It was almost 6pm and i rushed to the receptionist who told me that they didnt have a socket that fitted my charger's pin. Damn.. the shops in the city too didnt have a socket that i wanted. I had no option but to ride back to Corvara (around 15km) and try my luck before the shops closed down. So much was the rush that i forgot to pick up my jacket and rode 30km in the evening, shivering all the way - but in the end, the ride was worth it as i found the right socket but at a price that was no less than ten times that of a similar socket in India!!

By 8, i was back in the hotel, in time for the dinner... i wasnt really liking the bland European food, however, the desert with wild berries was finger lickin good..

My room

Tomorrow would be the day of mountain passes.. how many would i conquer? 10? 12? 14? Read on....

bunny_punia screwed with this post 10-05-2009 at 12:48 PM
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Old 10-05-2009, 01:46 PM   #8
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Loving the pictures.
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Old 10-05-2009, 03:04 PM   #9
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maybe i should subscribe to this nice little RR ;)
RideReports - mostly Europe
The Grossglockner HighAlpine Street / Austria RideReport // 2009
How Nightmarion became an ADVRider a RR from Slovenia, Croatia and Italy 2009
Sardinia, the Italian beauty in fall 2009
A country a day keeps the boredom away, Ride Report / Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Germany Aug 2010
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Old 10-06-2009, 03:44 AM   #10
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Bravo Bravo. What a nice bunch of pics. The greenery and the curves do make for a lovable ride.
Himalayas on a Motorcycle - Photography book by Chanderjeet
Mango Lassi of the bumfucked hillbillies MC
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Old 10-08-2009, 11:31 AM   #11
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Thanks fellas

30th August : DAY3: ARABBA - CORVARA via the long way round.

No of passes: 11
Total km ridden: 275km
Name of the passes (in order of doing them)
1. Pordio pass
2. Fedaia pass
3. Pellegrino pass
4. Valles pass
5. Rolle pass
6. Cereda pass
7. Duran pass
8. Staulanza pass
9. Giau pass
10. Falzarego pass
11. Valparola pass

I had initially planned to stay two nights in Arabba but something made me change my mind. Before sleeping the previous night, i spent around an hour on the map, chalking out a route for today. This would be the day of the passes for me.
I started off with the Pordio pass. The views enroute were simply majestic - i could see snow peaks in the distant horizon the weather was a little cold for riding. I also had a mild headache and popped a tablet for precaution. Here are some shots of the ride to Pordio

Enroute Pordio

The pass itself

At the top with other bikes

I stopped at the first curve on the other side and got a shot of a cop!

The views from this side of the pass were even better

I continued ahead towards Moena but not before taking a detour at Canazei to visit the famous Passo di Fedaia which is more or less based around a water dam. There were less bikers on this route than on Pordio and the views once on the top were much better than i had expected. See for yourself

A couple of bikers checking out the SMT

I rode on the small stone road (above the Dam waters) to the other side for this

And this

The pass...

By around 11:30am, i started back for Canazei and once there i filled up the bike. Fuel in Italy was more expensive than Austria (around 1.3 euros per litre) but the bike was returning around 17-18kmpl - which is impressive for such an engine

My next pass would be Passo di Pellegrino - for this i rode to Moena first and then took a left from there. The road to Pellegrino was okish but on the other side of the pass, the hairpin curves were a delight - for me as well as the bike

Pellegrino pass

Next pass on my planned route was Passo di Valles. For this i took a right at Falcade. The number of bikers today were a lot on the road, and it was fun racing / keeping up with the faster bikes on numerous occasions.

Valles pass

Next was Rolle pass and the roads to this pass were better - much more scenic than the previous few passes. A km before reaching the top, i parked the on the side and took some shots of bikers passing by

Bikers riding to Rolle pass

Thats a sweet car!

The pass itself..

Biking brotherhood

It was almost 1:30pm by the time i continued my ride ahead. It was downhill ride to Siror where while passing through the town, i happened to notice a classic bike model made out of junk metal. This is a very common norm here to attract bikers to come and have meals in cafes / restaurants. I was as it is feeling hungry and decided to hit this cafe which was located in a peaceful area of the small town overlooking the main road.

The place

My lunch

A few km after Siror came my sixth pass of the day - Passo di Cereda. The place itself wasnt very special so i just clicked a pic and carried on

Cereda pass

The ride to the seventh pass (Duran) today had some terrific views. At this particular place i spent around 20min clicking away photographs

Duran pass

Staulanza Pass popped out of nowhere!

The last few passes had been very boring. However, the next one, the ninth for the day, the Giau pass has to be the most scenic one for this day.

The pass

A few meters after the pass

I spent around half an hour here, sitting by the side of the road, enjoying the views of the roads in the valley and a city in the distant horizon. Also made full use of my zoom lens for pictures like this one

By the time i left this the Giau pass, it was already 6pm. I had initially planned to stay the night in Cortina which was around 18-20km from here. I reached there pretty fast but this big town had a lot of traffic this day it seemed. I didnt know where to stop and ask for hotels and even if i saw one, there wasnt any good parking around. In the end, i managed to stop by at three hotels - 2 were expensive, and one was full. I somehow felt like riding ahead and staying the night at Corvara but that would involve another 34-36km, plus two passes too. After filling in some fuel, i gave this idea a shot and decided to leave this town asap. I rode fast, as it was getting dark (and colder too). Traffic was getting sparse on the road and for the first time, i really pushed the bike a lot around the long sweeping curves and enjoyed every bit of it and soon hit Falzarego pass

Passo di Falzarego

Minutes later, the second one and the eleventh pass of the day for me, Passo di Valparola came up - the sun was setting down in this side and hence it was relatively brighter here

It was a downhill ride to Stern, from where i took a left to Corvara. I had done a lot of riding today, 275km to be precise and was quite tired by now. By the time i hit Corvara, I decided to stay at the first decent hotel which came up immediately. I happened to see a "Bikers welcome" banner on the right and that was it. I parked the bike and went in. Room with dinner and breakfast for 48 Euros seemed like a very good deal. In the next ten minutes, i was in my room's bathroom taking a much deserved hot shower with memories of today's scenic ride etched in my heart..

bunny_punia screwed with this post 10-08-2009 at 11:38 AM
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:03 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by bunny_punia
Valles pass
The same sign, taken from the other side while sitting on the balcony having a cup of Espresso last week:

Originally Posted by bunny_punia
The pass itself..
I rode up the southramp of the Rolle last week on Wednesday around 10am. Believe it or not: Not a dozen cars met on the whole 22km's/15mls up to the passo.

Originally Posted by bunny_punia
The ride to the seventh pass (Duran) today had some terrific views. At this particular place i spent around 20min clicking away photographs

Duran pass
And that's how it looks behind that little hill, if there are no clouds. Taken last Wednesday

Originally Posted by bunny_punia
Staulanza Pass popped out of nowhere!
This is the Staulanza west-ramp, guess when.... right, last week! ;-)
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:31 PM   #13
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Don't leave us hangin'

I am lovin' your ride. Please tell us about your bike too. It's comforts, gas mileage and so on. I want the SMT over here in the U.S.
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:55 PM   #14
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Yeah, I'm curious are you rating the 990 SMT ? That thing is looking interesting
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Old 03-24-2010, 12:19 PM   #15
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DAY 4 : Corvara – Grodner pass / Passo Gardena – Passo Sella – Passo Costalunga – Bozen / Bolzano – Passo Mendola – Cles – Passo di Tonale – Passo di Gavia – Bormio – Passo Foscagno – Passo Eira - Livigno

Here is a link on GOOGLE MAPS - Corvara BZ, Italy to Livigno SO, Italy - Google Maps

After a good night’s sleep, I was all fresh for another day ahead, a day of sorts. The first thing I did was fill up the bike, from a pump just a few meters from the hotel. Two Harley riders had just filled up before me, gearing up for their ride ahead. It is places like these where the full potential of bikes like the Harley lies. I filled up 14.92litres of petrol for 20 Euros (yes, that’s like 1200 rupees!) and carried on for the first pass of the day, Grodner or Gardena, just nine kilometers away.

The place where I stayed - La Baita

The ‘Bikers welcome’ sign outside my hotel

Gardena pass

The pass had nothing to offer so I continued ahead for Sella pass. Suddenly I was in the sun shadow area and it became quite chilly. I loved riding on the narrow road with a huge mountain on the left and a drop on the right.

The final few kilometers to Sella saw me riding in a lot of traffic.

After taking snaps of the board, I parked my bike on the right. Two more bikers joined and as usual talks started about the SMT and me riding in this part of the world. The views from where we were standing were awesome, however with lot of traffic I decided to ride ahead.

Costalunga came and went with nothing much to offer.

I was now riding downhill to the big town of Bozen or Bolzano. Temperatures started rising and once in the city, in slow moving traffic, I was almost sweating inside. Add to it that it took me a while finding the right road to Mendola pass meant I started getting irritated. I had to ride a lot inside the city in start stop traffic and trust me, it was quite warm. However once on the right road to Mendola, I started ripping. The good thing in these areas is that there are hardly any cops around for a check on speeding. What you have instead are big signs which show what speeds you are doing. The guilt within makes you slow down. Perfect.
I was thirsty but didn’t want to stop until I was back in the hills. And once there, I stopped for these views

A little pass, Mendola, at 1363 came but was in the middle of a small city. I decided to take the pic from a distance and carried on.

Finally bypassing little sleepy towns, I was in the middle of fruit farms like these

Tonale pass at 1884 was much better with good views

However it was the Gavia that I was looking forward to ride to. Traffic became as I was nearing the pass – good for me!

Remember this car on Day3?

This was the reason why there were far less bikers and cars on the road today.

The road to Gavia is quite narrow with numerous hair pin bends, blind curves etc. Europeans aren’t really used to such roads and many a times I had bikers coming my way, riding almost in my lane for fear of going off in to the deep valley on the other side! However, being used to such roads in India meant I was cool with riding here. Plus as the altitude went up, the hills around, with less vegetation started reminding me of the Himalayas! Infact, this was also the only stretch I came across with less than perfect roads – little potholes in abundance.

Stopping off the road for some views

A few kilometers before Gavia pass, I saw this lake on the left side, down in the valley. It involved riding off the road for a km. Now, how could I resist this. Off I went, riding on the pegs. Once there, I saw a KTM off-roader parked on the side, next to a huge stone. And then I saw them – a couple lay there, in each other’s arms! Great! I acted as if I didn’t see them, parked my bike next to the lake, took a few shots and carried on back to the road.

Enroute Gavia, there were numerous old styled tunnels with no lights. Infact, these were pretty cold and gave an indication of the high altitude.

Gavia pass at 2652 meters was well worth it.

While riding to Gavia, I had overtaken these two beauties, which were driven all the way from Britain. Thumps up!

A small lake, meters from the Gavia pass.

From here, I rode non-stop to just before Foscagno for these views.

The pass, two km from the previous stop

Another little pass

Finally I was at my destination – Livigno. This city, on the border of Italy and Switzerland is known for its zero taxes. Yes, that means fuel is cheaper, so are items like chocolates / perfumes / Booze! I filled up 16.65 litres of fuel for just 15 Euros - thats 0.90 Euros cents per litre as against 1.34 i payed in the morning! The place seemed very cute and it took me just ten minutes to find a decent place for the night for 40 Euros. Another reason why I choose this hotel was the owner’s bike

Later in the evening I went around shopping, getting gifts for people back home and ofcourse myself. The best perfume I have used till date – Issey Miyake for men . Infact there was some kind of scheme running wherein shopping for 150 Euros entitled you to a free ten Euro coupon. Damn, these credit cards really tempt u – it did happen!
Dinner was a big Pizza I got packed from the market for 6.5 Euros.

Spotted this during my evening walk
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