We found our home.
In September of 2010, Kenny and I met up with our friend Patrick in Italy and spent a little over a week riding around in the mountains. Our travels took us to Italy, Switzerland, the teeny-weeny country of Liechtenstein, and Austria. The trip was, in a word – monumental.
Even though months have passed, I still find myself reliving fragments of the trip in my imagination. The Alps are a motorcyclist’s paradise.
Though it was difficult to will yourself to stop riding, we did manage to snap a few photos of some beautiful roads along the way.
(Click all photos to enlarge)
Stelvio Pass – Italy
Fluela Pass – Switzerland
Julierpass – Switzerland
Splugenpass – Italy/Switzerland
San Bernardino Pass – Switzerland
Nufenen Pass – Switzerland
Grimselpass – Switzerland
In Case You Missed It
Here are some posts from that trip:
- Visiting Italy: Lake Como and a Case of Jet Lag
- Visiting Italy: Motorcycling from Lake Como to Bormio
- Cross One Off The Bucket List: Riding the Stelvio Pass in Italy
- A Sunday Ride Through the Swiss and Italian Alps
- Killing Time Around Vicosoprano, Switzerland
- Motorcycle Nirvana: Riding The Splügen Pass
- One of the World’s Best Motorcycling Roads: San Bernardino Pass
- Someone Pinch Me – Switzerland is Motorcycle Riding Heaven
- Riding to Austria: Our Dark Cloudy Day Has A Silvretta Lining
- A Few Short Hours in Innsbruck, Austria
- From Innsbruck to the Dolomites and Corvara, Italy
- Corvara, Italy and Riding Passes in the Dolomites
- Amazing Motorcycle Road: Italy’s Gavia Pass
How About You?
Have you traveled any of these roads? Which were your favorites? Are they on your bucket list for someday?
Kenny and Pimmie both rode with GoPro Hero HD cameras throughout our Alpine trip. Kenny mounted his on the side of his helmet for a “you’re seeing what I’m seeing” point of view and Pimmie mounted his GoPro on the front of his Tuono near the right mirror stalk.
Each day, they shot about 4 hours worth of riding video. In order to conserve the battery, this meant turning the camera on and off on less exciting stretches of road or during extended stops.
While looking through the videos, I found that many video clips start with a view of either of them looking into the camera with an “is this thing on?” expression. Kenny’s signature move was to look into his left mirror to see if the record light was flashing, while either Pimmie, Kenny or sometimes both had to look at Pimmie’s bike from the front see if his light was flashing.
It’s interesting to note some of the backgrounds, scenery, cars and bikes going by. This is like one big photobomb blog post. These photos are some of those video still frames:
Is This Thing On?
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- File Under: Is This Thing On? GoPro Self Portrait at 30 MPH
- Day 7: Freedom Tower Rising on New Years Day - #29in29
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- GoPro Accidental Photos: The Redwoods
- I Think I May Have Opened Pandora's Box
- Riding the Alps with a GoPro Hero Camera: Is This Thing On?
What am I talking about? It’s a Swiss BMW K-bike powered, enclosed motorcycle with outrigger wheels that come down when you slow to a stop. I think the model might be called a Monotracer, but please correct me if I’m wrong.
I’m not sure if it’s a wee bit of the claustrophobia talking or what, but something about the idea of riding in one of these bubbles creeps me out. How about you? Would you ride in one?
In typical case-of-the-Mondays fashion, the weather report didn’t look promising. But, the fact that the fog was burning off and the sun was elbowing it’s way through the cloud cover was a encouraging. Three sets of wheels hurtled towards riding nirvana.
One beautiful thing about the alpine mountain passes of northern Italy and Switzerland is their proximity to each other. You come off of one pass and with just a few turns you’re heading towards another. Having spent the night basically at the foot of the Maloja pass, we were in prime position to set our sights on the Splügen pass.
When you head up the Splugen pass from the city of Chiavenna, the road wriggles it’s way up a mountain along a terraced roadway. Hairpin turns are stacked against the earth rising up, up up and you find yourself riding through unlit tunnels on the side of the mountain. Hairpin turn in a tunnel, anyone?
The Italian portion of the approach to the Splügen pass and it’s terraced turns and tunnels is viewable on Google Maps street view. If you have some time to poke around, take a look for yourself! It will give you a feel for what the climb was like.
On many of the passes it seemed that there was a personality shift when you reached a plateau. With Splügen, when the road started to loosen up a bit you are treated a view of Lago di Monte Spluga and the turns become much more gentle and flowing. When I say gentle – I mean more like a sidewinder instead of a coiled rattlesnake.
Shortly after Lago di Monte Spluga came in to view, I came around a corner only to have to throw on the anchors in a hurry. There were cows parked in the middle of the road. That was an… interesting moment. When I finally made my way to where Kenny and Pimmie were parked, they too were having fun with cows. You can see Pimmie making friends in the video clip:
Near the Italian-Swiss border the feeling of the pass changed again. The road became a ribbon of turns that worked it’s way down into a valley. When my eyes first caught a glimpse of what was spilling out before me I actually said “wow” out loud and immediately stopped for a picture. Unfortunately no photograph I ever took could do justice to the magnificence of this delicious roadway making its way through such a beautiful landscape.
When we reached the end of the pass in the town of Splügen, Switzerland, I swear I wanted to hi-five somebody. But then I’d have to kick my own ass. The riding and the scenery of the pass were amazing. On a day that was off to an iffy start with Pim not feeling well and the threat of rain, we’d just made out like bandits. And this was just the beginning…