Tag: europe

2014 Motorcycle Daydreams: Riding in France

2014 Motorcycle Daydreams: Riding in France

The new year is nearly a month old and I haven’t done any riding. There is no clever excuse, just the basic truth that I’ve been doing other recreational stuff with my free time. However – that doesn’t mean that I don’t think about motorcycles all the time.

In 2013 I didn’t get to take my yearly big riding trip. Unfortunately, life got in the way.

Sometime during the fall, I picked up a Lonely Planet book for Provence & the Cote d’Azur. I never cracked it open or thumbed through its pages. Instead I flopped it down on the coffee table and it just stayed there.

With a little prodding (I’m lying, it was constant badgering) from my friend Pimmie who lives in the Netherlands, it looks like I’ll be putting that book to some use. Kenny and I just reserved a pair of BMW F700GSs for later in 2014 to meet up with him. Things are still in the early stages but we’ve made the first leap to say, “yeah, let’s go.” That’s usually the biggest hurdle for me. Everything else is just details.

motorcycle travel books

This morning a lightbulb went on for me. I bought a book called “Motorcycle Journeys Through Western Europe” some time ago. Another unread book. Is this a running theme in my life – That I have a lot of un-done somedays? While the snow threatens to fall today, I’ll be feeding my brain with ideas from the pages of this book.

If you know of any Southern France/Swiss/Italian riding trip blogs – like Orson’s Travels – please leave them in the comments. You can never have too much inspiration.

Read About our 2010 Alpine Adventure

Flashback Friday: Riding the San Bernardino Pass – Yeah That Didn’t Suck

Flashback Friday: Riding the San Bernardino Pass – Yeah That Didn’t Suck

In September of 2010, Kenny and I set off for Italy to ride with our friend Pimmie who lives in the Netherlands. It was such an epic trip – the friendship, the scenery, the riding. All of it. I find myself thinking about it often.

Fuzz on the San Bernardino Pass

One of my favorite rides while we were there was taking the Splugen Pass to the San Bernardino Pass. Between the stark beauty of the mountains themselves and their the undulating roadways it was some of the finest riding I’ve ever done.

Just look at that… ::wipes tear away::

the san bernardino pass

Do you think you would ever tire of riding roads like that?

Great Roads: Kick-Ass Mountain Passes From Our Euro Trip

Great Roads: Kick-Ass Mountain Passes From Our Euro Trip

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

Looking down at the Stelvio Pass

Fluela Pass – Switzerland

Fluelapass Switzerland

Julierpass – Switzerland

Julierpass Switzerland

Splugenpass – Italy/Switzerland

Splugenpass

San Bernardino Pass – Switzerland

San Bernardino Pass Switzerland

Nufenen Pass – Switzerland

Nufenen Pass

Grimselpass – Switzerland

Grimselpass Switzerland

In Case You Missed It

Here are some posts from that trip:

How About You?

Have you traveled any of these roads? Which were your favorites? Are they on your bucket list for someday?

A Few Short Hours in Innsbruck, Austria

A Few Short Hours in Innsbruck, Austria

RumerHof Hotel Rum AustriaAfter a long day in the saddle we pulled in to the city of Innsbruck around dinner time. We found a nice,  inexpensive hotel on the outskirts in the town of Rum. We got cleaned up and went for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. By the time we finished up, the sun had set and what was left of our evening was quickly ticking by.

We hopped in to a taxi and went into the old part of Innsbruck. Because our vacation was a riding vacation, we left home with no plans to spend time sightseeing or city touring. The fact that we were in Innsbruck at all was icing on the cake for me. So when the cab dropped us off, we did what we would do on the bikes and just wandered.

Cathedral Square Innsbruck Helblinghaus Innsbruck Austria The Golden Roof Innsbruck Austria

I’ve said it so many times before but, it really is the little moments that stay with you. We sat in the cathedral square talking and taking in the powerful façade of the Dom zu St. Jakob. We three just sat on a bench talking about history and the nature of people.  There were no city sounds – no traffic, no sirens, cars, no honking. As I sit here on my deck writing this, I can still feel the cool air of that night around me like an embrace. It was one of those perfect moments that I didn’t fully grasp the value of until it was long since gone.

Dom zu St. Jakob Innsbruck Austria

Given the late hour, everything but a few cafes in the old part of the city was closed. It was very interesting to walk around with the feeling that you’ve basically got the place to yourself. There was no hustle and no bustle, it was just us walking.

Being in that old place immediately filled me with a sense of romanticism. It was made up of nothing more than a group of lifeless buildings just like every other city the world over, but… it felt different than home. It felt faraway and special.

We walked to Maria-Theresia Strasse and had coffee in an outdoor café. When the waitress informed us they were out of apple strudel, it was like a dagger in my heart. Can you believe that? I missed my golden opportunity for strudel in Austria. I did have some manner of schnitzel for dinner though, so we’ll call it a draw this time.

So there we were – me, the love of my life and our dear friend.  We were a man and a woman from New York, having coffee with a Dutchman in Innsbruck, Austria. All because of motorcycles. I think that’s pretty cool. It’s in those moments I can really feel just how awesome my life is.

Cafe in Innsbruck Austria

Innsbruck Golden Roof WangRight outside of one of the most famous buildings in the city, the Golden Roof – there are 2… um… things… on the sidewalk. Yes, the Golden Roof is lovely and historical and all of that, but these just struck me so funny. While other people were nodding thoughtfully and taking photos of the building, we were giggling like schoolgirls over the sidewalk wangs.

I still have no idea what they were for but I think it’s probably best not to let the imagination wander too far on this topic.

Austria - Home of KTM! Austrian building is shocked by what it sees! Hadid Nordpark Cable Rail Station Innsbruck Austria
Hadid Bridge Rail Station A Bacon Store! Innsbruck Austria

It was around midnight when we grabbed a taxi back to our hotel. Our little walk through town was just too short. In many ways it pains me that I was in this lovely, fairytale place so worthy of exploring, yet we had no time to do just that. I can only hope that life will steer me there again some time down the road.

In the meantime, we had more riding to do.

Someone Pinch Me – Switzerland is Motorcycle Riding Heaven

Someone Pinch Me – Switzerland is Motorcycle Riding Heaven

When we climbed down from the top of the San Bernardino pass, we had the rain on our heels. If we were going to make the most of our plans for the day we were going to have to get on the gas and hightail it out of there. We were heading towards an area in Switzerland just above the northeastern border of Italy.

In this part of Switzerland, there is a group of mountain passes that is just outstanding. They provide many hours and many miles of riding on beautiful asphalt, beautiful views and delicious curves. These passes are: Nufenen pass, Grimsel pass, Furka pass, Susten pass, Gotthard pass.

Novena Neufenen Pass Switzerland

When you head north along the Novena/Neufenen Pass it brings you to the intersection of the Furka and the Grimsel passes. Having to make a choice, we opted to stay left and take the Grimsel and would try to hit the Furka the following day. So up we went along the terraced switchbacks into the mountains.

The Grimsel pass from the south

The view as you were climbing higher was spectacular. I pulled off to take some photos and I could hear the echoing sounds of 2 people on sportbikes coming down the neighboring Furka pass. I watched the 2 little dots making their way along the mountain road as their song echoed through the valley.

Grimsel Pass with partial View of Furka Pass

Neufenen Novena Pass Switzerland Cross at the top of the Grimsel Pass a view of the Furka Pass from Grimsel pass
F 650 GS on Grimsel Pass Switzerland Motorcycle sculpture at the top of Grimsel pass Pimmie conquers the Neufenen Pass in Switzerland

All through our trip I never got over the feeling of just how small we are as people here on the earth. The magnitude and scale of the mountains was incredible. This photo of me riding on the Grimsel pass personifies that to me. I was nothing more than a speck traveling along on the road of life.

Fuzzygalore on the Grimsel Pass

We made our last gas stop of the day in Innertkirchen. With the late hour, the waning daylight and the ever present threat of rain we decided it was time to pack it in. We would ride the length of the Susten pass and grab a room in the town of Wassen.

The Susten pass didn’t seem to climb in the same way the other passes had throughout the day. It seemed to run more like a canyon road along the length of the valley instead of just up and over. The last 15 or 20 miles of the pass, Kenny and I spent some time riding together which was nice since I’d been kind of floating solo as I poked along looking at things and stopping for pictures.

Pimmie's Aprilia Tuono on Grimsel Pass in Switzerland Kenny heading in to Wassen Switzerland Wassen Switzerland Sustenpass Sign

Even with our late start we managed to get in some fabulous riding. On our third day of traveling we’d been through the Splugen pass, the San Bernardino pass and now the Novena pass, Grimsel pass and the Susten pass. Not too shabby, really.
Gasthof Alte Post our hotel in Wassen Switzerland

We took rooms at the Gasthof Alte Post in Wassen and had dinner outside in what was left of the fading light of the day. Our rooms had no TVs, no Wifi and no clocks. The three of us spent the night looking at the highlighted routes on our map, watching videos from the day’s riding and making plans for what we were going to do the next day. Those plans included contingencies for pouring rain which as the night wore on, came calling.