Tag: Road Trips

Three Mountain Roads I Would Love to Ride On a Motorcycle

Three Mountain Roads I Would Love to Ride On a Motorcycle

I could fill a book with all of the places I’d like to go. Mostly because I want to go everywhere! Do you think if I put it down on paper or type as it were, that I stand more of a chance of making it happen?

I was completely enchanted by the mountains on our Euro trip in September 2010. Being there made you feel like you could ride for an eternity and never get bored. Wouldn’t you love to test that theory?

These roads are among the highest paved roads in the Alps. They’re also officially filed on my wishful thinking list.

Grossglockner High Alpine Road – Austria

Ride a winding road with spectacular views on Austria’s highest mountain. I love the “motorcyclists welcome” attitude of so many alpine countries. The Grossglockner actually caters to motorcyclists by offering designated parking, lockers for stowing gear and even surface improvements to make riding safer. Yes, please!

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road

Grossglockner High Alpine Road AustriaPhoto Credit: rauriserhof.at

Col de l’Iseran – France

The Col de l’Iseran is the highest paved mountain pass in the Alps. That is enough to pique my curiosity. At a little over 9,000 feet up at the road’s summit sits the lonely and beautiful stone Notre Dame l’Iseran chapel.

Col LIseran French Alps Photo Credit: Wormke-Grutman

Col Agnel / Colle dell’Agnello

This pass crosses between the French and Italian border and rises to over 9,000 feet up. The Col Agnel was long considered to be one of the possible paths Hannibal used to cross the Alps. It’s swooping serpentine curves are calling me.

Col Agnel French Italian AlpsPhoto Credit

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.

Visiting Italy: Motorcycling from Lake Como to Bormio

Visiting Italy: Motorcycling from Lake Como to Bormio

We awoke long before the revelers of the night before and departed Como heading towards the town of Bellagio. The picturesque town sits at the tip of Lake Como’s peninsula. From there you can catch ferry boats to different points on the lake. Since we were heading northwest to Bormio, we hopped the ferry to Verenna.

Bikes on Bellagio to Verenna Ferry

The view from the ferry Bellagio to Verenna Heading to Bellagio Italy Bellagio Italy from the Verenna Ferry

During this leg of our travels, we would be exposed to many things for the first time. It was the first time we saw the little white signs with the word “tornante” on them. That’s Italian for a hairpin turn. In my travels here on the Northeast coast, the hairpin turn is like seeing a bear in the wild. Sure, they are out there somewhere but you only see them once in a blue moon.

Your Papers, Please

We also experience our first of many border crossings going from Italy to Switzerland. In my mind I suppose I had built the process up to be something a little more complex than just having a man in uniform wave at me and send me through. I guess I figured there would be some passport stamping or something.

Crossing the border from Italy to Switzerland

When I pulled up to the first guard booth and stopped, I looked at the guard he gave a lazy wave. I wasn’t sure if he was saying “hi” or sending me through. So in my amazingly awkward and jerky way, I was like “uhhh, am I okay to go?” I couldn’t hear him very well but I think he said “yah.” Seriously, who wants to assume you’re okay to cross a border if you really aren’t? So, I questioned him again by asking “ok?” and gesturing the universal symbol for moving forward. He gave me an exasperated “ok” and then pointedly said “go!” Fine, fine, I’ll go then. Sheesh! I know he must have thought I was a moron. And well, he just might be right. But that’s part of my charm.

Near the Berninapass heading to Livigno Italy

When we made our way towards St. Moritz and on to Livigno, the mountains began to show us their amazing grandeur. We cut along the roadway that was carved through the rock, gradually rising above the treeline. It is in these moments that you feel so tiny in the world. The beauty that nature presents to you can be so incredibly humbling.

Heading to Livigno Italy Heading towards Livigno Italy Heading towards Livigno

Leaving Livigno heading towards Bormio

We were scheduled to meet Pimmie in the town of Bormio. He was riding down from the Netherlands to spend the week riding with us. It had been over a year since we last saw him, so Kenny and I were both bubbling with excitement.

Heading into Bormio Italy Riding in Bormio Italy Pimmie arrived in Bormio after riding all night

Now we were three.

Kenny and I arrived first at the hotel with enough time to shower and clean ourselves up from the days ride. About an hour later, Pims turned up safely. It was so great to see him again. It felt like no time at all had passed.

Albergo San Lorenzo in Bormio Italy

We spent the rest of the night getting caught up, laughing, relaxing and planning for the following day’s ride. There was a lot to be excited about. From this point on, we would be flying by the seat of our pants; going wherever the sky looked sunniest and the roads were winding.

Motorcycle at Bormio Hotel Hotel Stelvio Bormio Italy Piazza in Bormio Italy

We chose to meet in the town of Bormio because it was the foot of one of the most legendary mountain passes and one of my bucket list items – Stelvio. That’s where we were headed the very next morning…

Check Out Our Fabulous Motorcycle Road Trip T-Shirts!

Check Out Our Fabulous Motorcycle Road Trip T-Shirts!

When Kenny and I rendezvoused with Pimmie in Bormio, Italy he came bearing gifts for us.  Apparently he and Novos had been scheming for weeks – making t-shirts for Kenny and I.

Novos along with being a great rider and generally great guy is also a great illustrator. He whipped up these images of Kenny and myself dressed in our Tyrolian best, riding our F 650 GSs.

Crudmop Illustrated by Novos Eurotour 2010 Tshirt

Kenny in his lederhosen holding a stein and me in my dirndl with a camera.

Fuzzygalore illustrated by Novos Eurotour 2010

Thank you, thank you, thank you to you both. I just LOVE them!

Our friends refer to our family as “The Fuzzmops”.

Motorcycle Luggage: Oxford Handysack Helmet Backpack

Motorcycle Luggage: Oxford Handysack Helmet Backpack

Oxford Handysack Foldup Helmet BackpackFive or six years ago, my dear friend from Wales brought Kenny and I each a nifty little motorcycle luggage bag. It’s called the Oxford Handysack. It looks like a pretty standard foldaway nylon bag, but the front pocket offers a really useful option. It opens out into a pocket that accommodates a full face helmet.

So how is it?

Me likey!  It isn’t the fanciest bag in the world but it’s cheap, small and does a great job of giving you one less thing to carry and keeping your hands free. When you get to where you’re going, zip it up into itself and you’re done. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Oxford Handysack Helmet Backpack

Oxford Handysack Motorcycle Helmet Backpack

Details:

  • Zips into itself, folding up into an approximately 6in. x 6in. square.
  • Made of 600D polyester
  • Zip out helmet pocket!
  • Big enough to accommodate a sleeping bag in the main compartment
  • Fits easily into airplane overhead bin when full
  • Has backpack straps
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