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Old 09-12-2012, 09:29 AM   #1
jbar28 OP
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Ohio Guys in the Alps

I finally got my good friend Pete (aka tt100) to fly over to Germany for a week of riding. I've been here in Europe for the past 2 years thanks to Uncle Sam and my wife's Air Force career, and have enjoyed some fantastic riding. Pete's never been here, and I've bugged him almost relentlessly to come join me for a ride. That trip starts on Friday! Right now we're in Oberammergau for a week of vacation with our wives, and hoping the ugly rain we're having today will pass before we pick up his rental bike in Munich on Friday morning. We've looked over a few past ride reports and other sites for a bit of route planning, and have come up with this as a start, almost certainly to be modified as things go along. Munich is just off the map to the north:



First overnight is in Mauthen on the Austrian / Italian border, with a couple of days in the Dolomites (map points are approximate). Then we're hoping to make it over to Mandello del Lario to see the Moto Guzzi museum (open weekdays 3-4pm), up through Stelvio and Switzerland and back to Munich where Pete has to turn in his bike a week later. We'll both be posting updates here as we go.
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:55 AM   #2
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Old 09-12-2012, 12:21 PM   #3
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You never know...

In a way I feel a bit funny starting a Ride Report on something that hasn't happened yet. But yesterday we were in Garmisch and ended up talking to a Canadian guy that grew up five miles from my friend's house in Ohio, and went to college a mile from where I used to live. So I fully expect someone will see this and say something like "Hey, I'm going to be at the Guzzi museum next Monday, I'll see you there", or something like that. For others that want to make suggestions, fire away. The collected knowledge is almost always helpful.

Jim
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Old 09-13-2012, 09:21 AM   #4
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Weather

We drove over to Innsbruck, Austria today with our wives, and noticed quite a bit of snow on the higher mountains near there. So we got back to Oberammergau and found a web cam for Stelvio Pass. Oh my... here's what it looks like now



And this was last night at 8pm



Wow. Not quite what I was thinking when we planned this trip. Well at least the next few days look like a decent forecast, and after that I guess we'll see how things look.
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Old 09-14-2012, 01:39 PM   #5
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Trash day in Munich is on Friday mornings.... Ask me how I know. I'll tell you. 3 times in the first 20km getting out of Munich this morning did a trash truck pull out just in front of us and slow us down. Oh well, I needed to go slow and get used to the bike anyway.

Jim's sending all the fancy pictures in a few but I wanted to talk about the first day today. I rented from Moto=Greek through AdMo and so far so good. I picked up a F800gs from Sergio at Moto=Greek at 0900 sharp this morning in South Munich. The bike was like new and Sergio got me going quickly.

A few lessons I learned in the first hour of my first day riding in Europe;

1) slow down when you're packing your bags. I left my crampbuster, Web straps, and shield cleaner, and etc... In my bag and had to buy a few things.
2) Lewis Motorrad is a chain of Motostores like Competition Accessories or Iron Pony that is in Germany, and UK and Austria that has pretty much what you need
3) Austria and Switzerland require a tax vignette to ride on their highways. Austria was 4,60 for 10 days, and and Sergio says Switzerland charges 32 Euros no matter if you riding on the hiway for a minute or the year.
4) I love riding here!

Today once we left Germany we went over the pass in Austria called Gross Glockner. It was snowed on and ended up only about 200 meters lower than Stelvio.

(Show some pictures, Jim!)

We ended up at Edelweiss Gasthaus in Mauchern (sp?) near the Italian border. Tomorrow we ride to the Cortina region in the Dolomites for 2 days of riding.

So far it's awesome...

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Old 09-14-2012, 01:56 PM   #6
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We headed to Munich Friday morning, planning to be at the bike rental place just after 9am. We arrived at 9:05 to find a sign on the door that said something like 'Call this number and I'll come'.



I was a bit bothered by this, thinking that they knew Pete was coming this morning for an F800GS, and that it would be out front waiting for him, preferably washed and waxed and idling... so this didn't happen. You'd think after 8 years living in Europe I would know that this isn't how it usually works here, but that was still my expectation.

I called the number, and the owner said he would be there in fifteen minutes, which he was. Pete looked around the shop and saw lots of R1200GS and R1200RT bikes, but not a single F800. We waited, a bit worried, until the owner (Sergio, among other things he called himself) Rode up on a GLEAMING white F800GS. 13,000 km on it and it looked like new.



OK, no problems with that! He was very friendly, very helpful, and restored our confidence pretty quickly. Pete loaded his stuff, got a quick briefing on the bike, and we headed out about 11am.



First stop was Aying, home of Ayinger brewery, the maker of our favorite beer ever, the famous Celebrator Double Bock.





We didn't have an appointment, and they had no tours today, but at least we've ben there, and we got a few bottles of our favorite and a few we'd never seen. All packed for the road, of course, no drinking and riding, especially on a like-new rental bike you've only been on for 30 minutes! Hey, let's be careful out there. Pete wanted top start kind of slow on the new bike, so an hour of flat land riding before hitting the Alps sounded good to him. Little did he know his skills would be tested early.

Then on to Rosenheim, where we made a quick stop at Motorrad Louis to pick up a few last-minute things, and to introduce Pete to Doners, my favorite German food. Going up the driveway to the parking area, Pete had to stop the bike on a steep incline because a few locals had stopped directly in front of him to watch. He managed to stop, keep the bike upright, rev the engine, slide the clutch, and release the brake all together very nicely to avoid dumping the pretty new BMW. Well done, Pete!



Then a quick gas stop and on to Austria.



Our route didn't include any Autobahn time, but we decided to get the vignette (tax stickers) anyway. At $6 each for a 10 day permit, it's cheap flexibility.



We kept heading up, and kept seeing VW vans. Lots of them, especially the California camper model. Pretty much impossible to get in the US, never officially imported.



Somehow without realizing quite what I was doing, I had planned our route to include the Grossglockner toll road, which I really hadn't wanted to do. It's 22 Euros per bike, but completely worth it. Especially given the alternative was about an hour longer ride to our destination. With some trepidation we paid our entry. Through our very good UClear HBC200 intercom I heard Pete ask the lady taking our money "Is there snow?"

"Yes, of course, but only the side of the road, not in the middle", was her reply. Hmm...

So up we went



And up and up



Pretty soon it was starting to look like Christmas weather











We darted in and out of fog, clouds, wet mist, and were constantly cold. I have hand / wind guards, Pete's BMW has heated grips, but only a combination of the two would be workable in this weather. That's something neither of us have. And I only brought warm weather gloves and one of my cold weather gloves. Duh! Not good in nearly freezing weather, but not nearly as dumb / crazy as the guy I saw riding a motorcycle down wearing shorts!

Finally we reached the top.



I have to say that if you find yourself here and wonder about paying the toll, just go ahead and do it. It's a BEAUTIFUL road. What a great road to ride, no matter the weather. Well, maybe not if it is snowing hard...

Down the other side and to Kötschach-Mauthen and the Gasthof Edelweiss, chosen because they have garaged bike parking, an on-site brewery, and very reasonable rates. My room looks like a dorm room, but the food in the restaurant was good, the service super friendly, and the beer also very enjoyable.









Tomorrow we ride into Italy and begin to explore the Dolomites!

jbar28 screwed with this post 09-14-2012 at 02:41 PM Reason: spelling edit
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Old 09-14-2012, 02:11 PM   #7
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Route Map

Route map for the day looks something like this

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Old 09-15-2012, 01:18 PM   #8
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Into Italia

Pete makes is to Italy.



Saw this at the pass entering Italy, and also later close to Cortina. Very cool



Pete's first real Italia cappuccino.



So strange to be riding through ice and snow yesterday, and this today.



Lunch



Typical scene on my GPS. Pretty much just hours and hours of this!



The 'street view' looks something like this.



Scene at the top of Passo Giau, tons of bikes everywhere.



Pete complaining that we can't get all these cool Italian bikes in Ohio. And these cool Italian roads and mountains, too!







But watch out, those mountain roads can bite!



Jim and Pete





Enjoying the best beer in Italy after the ride, imported from Germany in Jim's saddle bags. Yummy stuff!



Route map for the day


jbar28 screwed with this post 09-15-2012 at 01:32 PM Reason: fix pics
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:27 AM   #9
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Update

Hello, this is Pete from the ride. I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about how great this trip has been and hopefully encourage someone out there that might be sitting on the fence about going to get up and just go do it! I've ridden the Dragon and while it's a great fun ride it has NOTHING on the Alps. Well, actually I suppose cost might be a factor, but I believe it is worth doing whatever you can to figure out how to afford coming over. I spent a little time a few posts up talking a bit about some tings I learned. While some of that was tongue in cheek, there are some things that I think will make a difference if you're considering coming. Jim initially guessed that I ought to put away about $150-$200 a day. Well, that was way more than I needed for the riding days. For instance, our first night in Austria at Mauthen the room was about $55 dollars after they put dinner on my room bill, and breakfast was included also. Lunch or dinner is always somewhere between 8-15 Euros, sometimes more if you have extra beers. All and all I'm under $100 a day and that includes the gas I buy.

On to the riding;


This is the region we are in, the Dolomites.


The BIG chunk of mountains in the middle? This is where we've been riding the last two days.

As it turned out we stayed in Alba, one pass over from Arraba, which is the place some guys wrote about on here back in 2009.

Alps Ride 2009

That was one of the threads I read for info and inspiration for this trip. Funny thing is my friend Jim planned the routes, etc... and I didn't realize we would be riding the same passes.



The second pass we rode was Passo Pordoi. At the top was this monument to Fausto Coppi, who along with Bernard Hinault and Eddy Mercyx are considered by most to be the greatest cyclists ever. I wish I could have seen him compete.


Speaking of Cyclists I have been super impressed with the cyclists over here. everyday on every pass there are people chuggin up and flying down the passes. I couldn't even accomplish one without taking a week off to recover! Yet here, there are young and old, fat and skinny, mountain bikes, road bikes, everything. What a hearty bunch of people... . The thing I appreciate the most is everyone is tolerant of each persons preference of vehicle. We even saw some guys on roller skis riding up Gross Glockner the other day which blew me away.



Roads: We did 5-6 passes today (lost count), and they all looked like this on both sides... One of them we did was only one lane wide and rose out of Brixon / Bressanone. We had ridden over to see something Jim knew about and discovered this as our way back to the good riding. It ended up being a treat, one lane, no traffic and below tree line for quite a ways and had us zipping through evergreen forest for quite a while before we rose to the top which was Passo Del Erbe.


At Psso Del Erbe we had lunch. What was funny was the menus were only in Italian and our waiter didn't know English. I pointed at something that I recognized a word or two and this is what I got. It was DELICIOUS! Gnocchi with spinach, and a great slaw salad, and of course a Weizen!

More than anything I want to encourage anyone who can't decide to go ahead and commit. I'm very grateful that I got this chance. I travel a lot with my job and I get to keep my airline points that I accumulate. As soon as I had enough I booked this trip. Without the free airfare I would've waited another year. Now, I'm trying to figure out what I can sell at home to come back again next year!

Tomorrow we head towards Lake Como as we plan on hitting the Guzzi factory and museum on Tuesday afternoon. I"m excited about that. The sound all these Italian twins make over here is driving me nuts! I want one...
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:41 AM   #10
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Lucky YOU

Very nice. Wonder if there is an option on your Garmin to change auto to motorcycle pic cruising down the winding road? I lived in Bitburg for 4 years. My government housing was heated with the excess steam they pumped off from making the Bitburger Beer. Love your route and pics. You have my dream life being a dependent of an Air Force wife! You rock! Part of my marriage agreement was she join the Air Force, didn't happen. All I'm saying is LUCKY YOU!

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Old 09-16-2012, 12:38 PM   #11
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I want also to take a minute and give a shout out to Julie and Jen at the Uclear store. (search it)

Before I tell this story, let me add I don't work for Uclear nor do I receive any goods or services for free, etc.... I'm just a fan.... A big one.

I have the HBC100 Bluetooth headset and love it but was concerned about the range in the Alps. The newly released 200 was VERY hard to find and Julie knew I wanted one as I had written some questions and comments on their blog about my ordeal. Out of the blue one day one of the ladies called me to talk about this trip (unsolicited) and let me know they were trying to figure out if they could score us a set of 200s before we left. In the end they got me a pair 1 hour before I left for the airport. They kept in close contact and came through!

Well, let me tell you these things are awesome. The range is great. The trip would be completely different if we didn't have these. Coordinating passes on twisty hairpin roads is worth the price of admission alone.

Battery life is out of this world. We turn them on each morning and enter intercom mode right away. We haven't turned them off until the end of the day except for our half hour lunch and they are still going strong when we stop for the night. We're both talkative all day too (mostly stuff like Holy Crap! Did you see that? And such...).

The best thing I like about them is they don't have a boom microphone on them. Instead they have a mike built into each earpiece and have a noise cancellation algorithms and beam forming microphones. They just work. Once you go boom less you'll never go back! They're just great.

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Old 09-16-2012, 11:16 PM   #12
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139 miles ?

We rode yesterday from about 9:30 until 2:00pm, had about 45 minutes for lunch, then rode until 5:00 pm, and covered only 139.4 miles. We weren't exactly taking it slow and easy, and had a couple stops to stretch and look around, but most of that time was great riding. I would have guessed at least 200 to 250, but the odometer says 139.4 miles. I guess when you're riding roads like this



You aren't covering a lot of miles! This Passo Pordoi, the eastern slope. One of the best roads I've ever seen for fun on a bike. Too crowded on Sunday morning, but maybe we'll run up and down it again today before we leave the area.
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Old 09-17-2012, 03:25 AM   #13
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Great adventure ride Guys. Looking forward to the next installment. Please take a few shots at the Guzzi factory.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:15 PM   #14
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Yesterday...

A few notes I didn't get to yesterday.

After our morning run up the west side of Passo Pordoi and down the east side, I have to say it's a GREAT place to ride. Worth the trip just for that little stretch. We stopped in Arabba for a refresh, just rolled into a random bar and got a coffee before Pete realized that of course we HAD to come here.



Then we headed north in a big loop, ending up near Brixon, which was a waste of time. I'm sure the central area is nice, in fact I wanted to go there because some friends were there a couple years ago and loved it. But the sprawl around it was too much, so we bailed out before we got to the center and headed for Passo dell Erbe up SS29. It was worth the ride around and through Bressanone for the trip up SS29, in and out of dense woods and a nice road coming out of town.



At the top we stopped for lunch, I ordered beet ravioli with gorgonzola sauce. My wife wold be shocked I ordered beet anything, but it was really good. Although swimming in cheese sauce, how bad can anything really be?



At the top of Passo Gardena, there was a crowd of Porsche 911's. All with S (Stuttgart) plates, and Japanese men driving, except for the leader, a woman with a microphone, speaking English. They took off driving down the pass about 25 miles an hour, holding up tour busses and old men on tractors. What a waste.



This is Vincent, who was curious about my Alaska Leather sheepskin seat pad.



He said he'd never seen anything like it, and wanted to know where to get one. At least I'm pretty sure that's what he said, my German is bad enough without having to filter out his Italian accent. he lives in town at the bottom of the hill, and has a Moto Guzzi California EV and a Honda Trans Alp, he said. We told him we were going to the Guzzi museum in a few days, and he seemed to think that was awfully far away.

Then over Sella pass and home. We stayed at Hotel Miramonti in Alba, just south of Canazei. It was good for a very reasonable rate, decent room, internet throughout the hotel, and bike parking in the underground garage with the family's bikes, tractors, and lawn mowers. Very friendly and the food is good, too. Here it is today



And in the 1930's



I often find these kinds of pictures interesting, to see what is the same and what has changed.

Looks like weather may affect our route plans, and we went to bed without really having a plan for the coming day.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:41 PM   #15
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Stelvio? Is this Stelvio?

We followed twisty roads out of town this morning, headed roughly in the direction of Bolzano on SS48, where stopped just a minute to take in the view



Do people who live here even appreciate this? I wonder...

A quick coffee break to figure out where to go, looks like if we're going to get to Stelvio we should do it today, as snow is expected on Wednesday



..then on towards Montagna overlooking the valley near Bolzano. It's full of fruit faarms, with ripe apples and grapes hanging everywhere.



We met this German man at an overlook, who took our picture. We got to talking and looking at bikes, his 20 year old Kawasaki 600 struck me as unusual among the throngs of BMW's. One thing I noticed was a photo of two young children in the map case on his tank bag, right in his view.



He said he keeps it there to keep him from doing something stupid when he rides. What a great idea, one that MANY Germany riders we saw might think about when they're passing around blind corners.

Then up the other side of the valley, past some great old resort buildings



and right into a terrible down-hill dead end full of gravel. We had to get off the bikes one at a time to help the other turn around, thanks to our GPS.



I'm learning that when the sign says one way and the GPS says something else, go with the SIGN! We looked fruitlessly for a nice place for lunch. I wanted something overlooking the lake, with nice tables in the shade. Like this place!



Of course it was closed, and we ended up in town at the high-school hangout pizza shop.



So rode over Passo Tonale to the start of Passo Gavia. Pete wanted to ride this one, I wasn't so sure. Now that we've done it I think I can say it's something to do only if it's important to you to say you have. The road is incredibly narrow at times on the south side, so narrow it;s a close squeeze for two bikes carrying side bags, not to mention coming up on a car.







At the top we saw these sweet little machines.



Then on to Stelvio!





I think Stelvio is so famous that it kind of overshadows itself. The fact that it is so photogenic doesn't really translate into a ride that is better than lots of other places we'd been. Do I sound underwhelmed? I was. But the ppictures are pretty and it wasn't snowing.

From the top we rode into Switzerland through Ofenpass and almost to St Moritz. We stopped in Samedan, and were very blessed to find the last room at the Hotel Centrale. It's a very friendly place, with homemade ravioli, German beer, free wi-fi, and our bikes are safe in a grage across the street from a police station.





Tomorrow we go to Lake Como and the Guzzi museum!
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