View Full Version : European Alps - The big loop!

14-02-2007, 04:34 PM
(Some of the pictures are from another time at the same places! - They will give you a better impression of the tour! You can klick on every image for full size!)

European Alps
The big loop

17 days...5800km

A ride report of 4 mates travelling the Alps in 2000
by Rudi Przybylski, Honda ST 1100 ABS/TCS Pan European




Starting in Sonthofen, Bavaria, the trip led us….

across Switzerland (Appenzell, Lake Zurich, central Switzerland, Lake Vierwaldstätter, Bernese High-country, Lake Geneva) into France.
Into the French Alps and south to the Grand Canyon du Verdon and the region of Nice on the Mediterranean coast.
Across the Col di Tende to Italy and Col de Larche back to France.
The Col de l'Iseran and the Little Sankt Bernhard Pass to Switzerland.
The Rhone-Valley to Italy.
Lago Maggiore, Lake Lugano and Lake Como again to Switzerland.
The Engadin Valley to Italy
The Lake Garda area, across the Dolomites and the Staller-saddle to Austria.
Via East-Tirol to the Grossglockner and further to Carthania.
A small lap through Slovenia and back into Austria.
Via Klagenfurt and Bruck an der Mur (easternmost points of the journey) in the Salzkammergut.
Then along the Alps - adding the Ziller Valley - back to Sonthofen.


It all started with the book „Traumreisen in den Alpen“ (Dreamtravels in the Alps), the route described there just wouldn’t let me stop dreaming of riding that Alpine loop.
3 other friends started to apply “pressure” as they grew sick of talking about it and the start was set finally set for the 18 July 2000.
Bike packed and ready to go by the previous evening, the meet-up was organized for 9am the next morning. Lothar had realized the worn rear tyre on the K1100LT (owner: Dietmar) - so our first “stop” was the local Sonthofen Tyre-Dealer who luckily came good on the spot - fresh rubber for the LT and finally we’re ready to go.

The four “culprits”:

Lothar , Buell Thunderbolt


Dietmar, BMW1100LT


Werner, Honda VF 1000 F2 Bol d’Or


Rudi, Honda ST 1100 ABS/TCS Pan-European



On a roughly south-westerly tack it’s through Margarethen, Beilenberg and Altstädten to Fischen and across the Riedbergpass (1420 m).



at the Riedbergpass






Past Hittisau, Großdorf and Schwarzenberg towards the Hochtannberg-Pass. Connesseurs turn left at Bezau to Reuthe, Bizau and Schnepfau

In Au it’s off to Damüls and across the Furkajoch (1761m) to Rankweil.






Crossing into Switzerland, Meiningen isn’t far....Altstätten the next target.
All of a sudden Dietmar is missing....returning a short stretch shows that the Bimmer had made itself known with a horrible racket from the rear end...and something serious had given up the ghost. Why the hell is it always the Bimmers on our rides?
Nothing for it but to call for help, the ADAC-AutoClub points us towards a dealer in St, Gallen, 25km away.
Dietmar climbs back on and nurses the bike into town...by now the shaft-drive seal has packed up as well, the whole rear is coated in oil.

The diagnosis is a busted rear wheel bearing and there’s no way to have that fixed on the spot. How Dietmar got the bike to St. Gallen is still baffling.
Leaving him behind, we organize the meet-up for the following night in Lungern (at Lake Lungern)...if the BM is a goer by then.

Lothar, Werner and I keep going through Teufen to Appenzell and Urnäsch.


Across the Schwägalp (1278m) (at Säntis Mountain) and on to Wattwil. The Rickenpass (794m) is a small hop, Kaltbrunn and Siebnen follow...., then the twisties across the Sattelegg (1190m).
Ending the day at Lake Sihl, we’re pitching the tent.
Setting it up in the backyard before the trip, it had looked fine to accomodate the 3 of us...hmmmm the damn thing seemed to have shrunk in the meantime....no way to cover all 3 of us and all of our gear...Lothar decides to leave his stuff to the annex, praying for a dry night.



1. day routing:



Along the shores of Lake Sihl it’s off to Oberiberg und to Ibergeregg (1406m).

at Ibergeregg – view to Lake Vierwaltstätter


A left-turn in Schwyz it’s up a little „Extra“: the road through the Muota Valley and via the Pragelpass (1550m) to Lake Klöntaler. A beautiful stretch of road, and very little known which is closed off on weekends due to being very narrow...there’s very little space for 2 cars at once.
After the Cappuccino-break it’s past Glarus and across the Klausenpass (1948m) to Altdorf.







An absolut MUST-DO while in the area is the spectacular lap of Sustenpass (2224m), Grimselpass (2165m) and Furkapass (2431m), no surprise, that this was next on the list for us.







Sustenpass - stoneglacier







Grimselpass – Furkapass - Rhoneglacier









Then Andermatt and back to Altdorf - then followed by a leisurly cruise around Lake Vierwaldstätter-See.

Impressions from Lake Vierwaltstätter














Via Brunnen, Vitznau, Weggis, Küssnacht and Meggen to Luzern. Along the way, Werner’s starter motor started to play up - a problem that was only finally fixed upon our return to Sonthofen.
Traffic in Luzern proved dense and hectic, time to move on.



Via Horw, Hergiswil and Alpnach to Sarnen on the shores of Lake Sarnen, a short hop to Lake Lungern, luckily meeting up with Dietmar again, the BM fixed and ready to rock again.
He’d already pitched the tent - and as agreed - a bit out of the way, being the Kingsize-snorer that he is J. At least he makes more than up for it by being the best chef around and even carries ample provisions on the BM.
Sausages and hams, honey, jam, garlic-sauce, coffee...hell, even herbs and spices of all sorts, this is a travelling kitchen. And it doesn’t stop there...add to that pots, pans and all sorts of utensils...really goes without saying, doesn’t it?
Just the honey had decided to go “walkabouts“, coating the floor of the pannier in sticky goo... The camp also turned out to be cheapest of the whole trip....as the place was „closed“ on Wednesday and the reception opens at 9am in the morning, we finished up staying the night for nothing.

Lake Lungern



2. day routing:



First up, the Brünigpass (1008m) to Brienz on Lake Brienz.

Lake Brienz





Passing a workshop along the way, Werner ducked in to find a possible fix for the starter motor problems, but it turned out that they only dealt with small bikes like Mofas and Mopeds.
But we follwed the recommendation of the owner to check with the Honda dealer in Hofstetten. The place was a bit hard to find but things were done very professionally and methodically. Despite all the checks, the actual problem in the alternator wasn’t found, though...Interlaken was next, for a left-turn into the heart of the Bernese Highlands and Grindelwald.
What a place...standing below the Eiger North-Face one realizes how HUGE and intimidating it really is and it’s easy to understand the „fatal“-attraction of this wall-of-rock to climbers from all around the globe.
Through town and uphill, until the road is closed off, but the Upper and Lower Grindelwald Glaciers are magnificent and shouldn’t be missed.



Lauterbrunnen valley



Back down the valley to Lauterbrunnen and the famous Staubbach-Waterfalls – then to the end of the valley to Stechelberg, the start of the Schilthorn Cablecar.
No way we’d miss the ‚Rotating Restaurant“ up top, the focal place of the James Bond 007-thriller „ In Her Majesty’s Secret Service !

a foto from the Schilthorn – a few years ago


nearby are the Trümmelbach waterfalls


Back to Interlaken and up the small road towards Beatenberg. Turning off along the way to Habkern, the road seemingly ends....BUT....for the one oin the know, there’s a little toll-road to Beatenberg, followed by yet another tiny toll-road to Sigriswil , just above Lake Thun, a highly-recommendable backroad-alternative.
To top it off, the views onto the lake and into the glacier-topped Bernese peaks are magnificent: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau nearly close enough to touch.

Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau



Lake Thun





near Lake Thun


From Thun via Spiez into the Simmen Valley....Erlenbach, Zweisimmen, Saanenmöser (1279m) to Saanen. Turning left, the small road leads through Gstaad and Gsteig to the Col du Pillon (1546m). Across the top is Les Diableres the well-known winter resort. Another left turn across the Col de la Croix (1778m) leads to Villar-sur-Ollon.

Letting the bikes roll downhill we turned onto the small camp area, our target for the day. Brilliant roads, brilliant scenery and brilliant weather to boot...

3. day routing:



view to Lake Geneve


First into the Rhône-Valley to Bex and Monthey. At Pas de Morgins (1369m) we crossed into France...then via Châtel and Abondance across the Col du Corbier (1235m) to Morzine.
One knows when the French border is crossed...signage becomes problematic to non-exist and it’s wise to ghet used to the French road-numbering system.
Instead of crossing the Col de Joux Plane we finished up at the Lac de Mines d’Or.

Lac de Mines d’Or


Despite it being a very pretty setting, the road ends here and it was back to Morzine. ViaTaninges („Route de Grand Alpes“) and Samoëns to the Cirque du Fer à Cheval, a 4km long and up to 700m high cliff face dotted with waterfalls.

Cirque du Fer à Cheval




at Col de la Colombiére



Werner and Lothar




After lunch it’s past Cluses to the Col de la Colombiére (1613m) and on towards Annecy. 8 km after Thônes it’s a left turn to Lac d’Annecy.
4 km later, at the top of Col de Bluffy (630m) it’s another left to get to the picturesque lake at Talloires.

Lac d’Annecy




Looping the lake to the south it’s through Duingt to Sevrier, start of the Col de Leschaùx (897m).
Further southward is Le Pont and the Col de Plainpalais (1173m), turning right onto the northern loop of Mont Revard, which provides fantastic vistas into the valleys.

view from Mont Revard



Next the Col de la Cluse (1184m) to Aix-le-Bains. In Chambery the bad signage caught us out again...the way to the Col du Granier (1134m) was only found by asking for direction at a service station...and thanks to Dietmar’s proficiency in French.
Despite all that, luck was still needed...

Just short of St. Pierre-d’Entremont the day ends at a small camp area along the road side....and Dietmar’ s near heart-attack when the kingsize air-bed seems to leak.
In the end it turns out that it’s only a loose plug.

4. day routing:



Today starts with a challenge...Grenoble is a scouts nightmare. Tacking south , it’s first across the Col du Cucheron (1139m) and the Col de Porte (1326m).
The right-turn to Sarcenas presents a great view across the city of Grenoble.



A right turn in town got us across the Isère River and onto N 532 on the other side of the valley.
Easy to find the way towards Villard-de-Lans from here... Past Villard-de-Lans are the Gorges de la Bournes, a very impressive gorge.

Gorges de la Bournes




Via Pont-en-Royans to Auberivēs-en-Royans, and left up the Col Gaudissart (840m) to the Combe Laval.
This stretch belongs decidedly into the „jewels-of-the-trip“ category...the views from Combe Laval, the sheer vertical drop...it’s breathtaking !!

Combe Laval






Another obligatory stop was at the Col de la Machine (1015m) „4 bikes (in German: “Maschinen”) at the Col de la Machine!“

Col de la Machine


Still tacking south, the Col de Lachau (1337m) followed by the Col de St. Alexis (1222m) and across the spectacular Col de Rousset (1254m)

Col de Rousset


to Die and Châtillon. In Menée (start of the Col de Menée) it was left to the Cirque d’Archiane, a 14 km long rock-bowl with 1000m high cliffs...the setting reminds of old Western-movies....expecting a bunch of Indians behind every bush.

Cirque d’Archiane



Across the Col de Menée (1457m) and Col du Prayet (1197m) the road drops into the valley at Clelles. Just out of Mens, Dietmar realized that he was short on fuel (carrying all that extra-weight of the camp-kitchen) ...the consequent search for a petrol station also got the shopping done in one hit.

The last pass of the day was the Col Accarias (892m) and everyone baulked at the thought of another stop, even though the bungee-jump off a bridge near La Mure might’ve been worth it...a few more kilometers to Valbonnais got us to the very generous camp site at a small lake.
Despite Dietmars language skills and the initially assigned camp spot, the owner lateron decided to move us to another place as a bigger group was expected...
As compensation for the trouble we got some showers tokens.
It seems to be a popular place, (especially with Dutch travellers)... however, it’s certainly recommendable due to it’s location at the lake and pretty surrounds.
The lake also offered a welcome dip after a long day in the saddle...

5. day routing:


to be continued!

14-02-2007, 07:05 PM

Whhhoooaaaa :shock: ....LOVE IT !!! I want one of those to replace Mountain Hwy/ up Mt. Dandenong !!!! (living at the foot of it...)

Combe Laval

:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: Is that for real??
Holy shit,.....what a road !!
Looks like a Harry Potter movie.

Jeez, what a ripper of a ride report, fan-bloody-tastic.
Bastard ! You know how to make the mouth water :wink: :thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs:


Those picvs....ohhhhh, those pics.
Superb stuff.
THANKS for posting :chug:

Starting at the top again............

14-02-2007, 07:06 PM
Woah! What a ride! Good write-up, Rudi and marvellous pics. Cant wait for you to continue your report.
And..... thanks for checking out the roads for us, we're sure to follow in your foot steps, ahem tyre marks soon.

15-02-2007, 08:36 AM
I've just added another 21 pics to day 4 and day 5!

Best greatings from Germany

15-02-2007, 10:23 AM
I've just added another 21 pics to day 4 and day 5!

Best greatings from Germany

Those pics are giving me "buttery knees"....what incredible scenery !! :shock: :shock:
Many thanks for posting it up, can'y wait for the next lot....so I'll start at the top again...AGAIN :lol: :lol: :lol:

Great stuff :thumbs: :thumbs:

16-02-2007, 08:16 PM
That's great stuff Rudi. You have again outdone yourself and set the bar a bit higher for the rest of us. :) :)

22-02-2007, 07:07 AM
European Alps
The big loop

17 days...5800km

Part II

First I would like to thank Pete for helping with the translation!


The travel continues...following the valley, the Col d’Ornon (1371m) to le Bourg-d’Oisans is first.... then via la Grave and the Col du Lautaret (2058m) to Briancon.

at Col du Lautaret


Then the Col d’Izoard (2360m), despite Werner’s effort to miss the turn-off, hehe...
running straight into some drizzle...time for the wet-gear.
But not for long... things started to get steamy at the top as the sun came out. Pity those guys coming up the other side on their push-bikes.
Guillestre is the next target, then Embrun and to Lac de Serre-Poncon, circling the lake to the west across the Col Lebraut (1110m).

Lac de Serre-Poncon





The Col d’Allos (2247m) starts at Barcelonette and is one of those passes that should be closed for any other traffic bar motorcycles...what a dream-road. Enough space to overtake with a bike, but fairly narrow for 2 cars to get past eachother. Letting the others go ahead to take some photos just short of the saddle, I was nearly cleaned up by a car on my way down, coming straight at me through one of the narrow sections. A short „Pardon“ through the wound-down window didn’t quite make up for the scare.

Col d’Allos








Without signs, the left-turn in Colmars to the Col de Champs (2045m) is a bit hard to find, another one of those roads that’s thoroughly recommendable, despite quite a bumpy climb....at least the descent is a bit smoother.
Past St. Martin-d’Entraunes and Guillaumes, it’s into the wonderworld of the Gorges de Dalius, rated by guides as the next-most spectacular gorge to the Grand Canyon du Verdon – and that would have to be spot-on, what a place...

Gorges de Dalius


The rock changes colour from red-brown to purple, the road flows through rock-tunnels and natural arches high above the river, this is pure magic...designed by Nature.
Following the N 202 it’s across the Col de Toutes Aures (1120m) to a camp ground at the Lac de Castillon. The rain comes back, Werner and Lothar decide to pitch their own tent, which turned out to be a wise move.
Bucketting down all through the night, I woke around 5, stunned by a „floating“ feeling...
The floor of the tent was like a big bathtub, not letting the water out and I was gently floating atop on my air-bed. Time to re-arrange a few things, tipping out the water....and going back to sleep.

6. day routing:



The morning-sun tickled the face....as did some of the rain run-off poluted water out of the taps. Dietmar also started a major drying-session of his tent, Werner and Lothar deciding to pitch their own tents from now.
After breaking camp it’s off via Castellane to another highlight of the tour....the spectacular gorges of Grand Canyon du Verdon.
To me the Grand Canyon du Verdon and the Combe Laval turned out the absolute highlights of the whole trip.
There are 3 passes along the way... Col d’Ayen (1032m), Col de l’Olivier (711m) and the Col d’Illoire (964m).
Despite frequent traffic, the lap around the Canyon is without incidents and riding is a pleasure.

Grand Canyon du Verdon























Sospel is the day’s target. So... it’s through Comps-s-Artuby and the Col de Clavel (1060m) onto the D2 towards Vence.

at Gregolieres



Then via Grègolieres to the Col de Vence (963m) – a bikeroad par excellence. Good enough to make one turn back and do it again.
While easy to find the way from Vence to Carros (as we decided to bypass Nice) things got trickier along those tiny and tiniest roads to the Col de Braus. But well worth it, the roads are gems.
Via Aspremont, Tourrette-Levens and Contes it’s across the Col de Nice (412m) to l’Escarène at the bottom of hairpin-heaven, Col de Braus (1002m).

Col de Braus


Final pass of the day is the Col St. Jean (612m) into Sospel....with 10 Marks per bend today, we’d all be multi-millionaires tonight.

7. day routing:



The Col du Pérus (654m) was followed by the Col de Brouis (879m), Then Saorge, the Gorges de Bergue and Gorges de Paganis and towards the Col de Tende (1871m).
Rather than the „new“ way through the tunnel, we decided on the old Tende-passroad with its 48 hairpins....and despite the gravel section on the south-ramp it’s an absolute MUST for any rider.

Col de Tende









Down the north-ramp into Italy (sealed) and a left turn just short of Borgo San Dalmazzo to Valdieri. Here a tiny road turns right to Festiona. As used by this year’s Giro D’Italia, the route speaks for itself, the tar painted like a graffiti-orgy.

After lunch in Demonte it’s across the Col de Larche (or Col de la Maddalena) (1948m) back into France. 17km down the hill is a cut-across to the Col de Vars (2109m).

Col de Vars


Returning through Guillestre to Briancon, it’s at warp speed across the Col du Lauteret (2058m), Col du Galibier (2646m) and Col du Télégraphe (1566m) to St. Michel-de-Maurianne, looking for a camp site for the night.

Col du Galibier



Which proved a little difficult, as the first attempt finished with a place that was „on the nose“ due to broken plumbing, the 2. attempt revealed a beautiful, new installation which wasn’t quite completed and therefore still closed....
The final attempt saw us at Modane at the Tunnel du Frejus (the first ever railway-tunnel of the Alps). A nice spot, but too close to the railways and roads (speaker announcements and traffic-noise all through the night), not too loud, but persistent.
It also turned into a wet night, only the 2. time we’ve had rain (the 3. and last wet night was to be at Reit im Winkel). Next morning Werner and Lothar discover, that they’d put up tents a little hastily, resulting in small puddles. This time around I was lucky...

8. day routing:



The „Dreamroads of the Alps’ continues...
Via Lanslebourg across the Col de l’Iseran, at 2764 m (the sign at the top proclaims 2770 m) the highest Pass of the Alps.. (The Col de la Bonette shows 2802 m, but the actual pass, Col de Restefond is a lot lower.)

Col de l’Iseran






Down into the Val d’Isère with it’s same-name Ski-resort and via Tignes onto the Petit Sankt-Bernhard (2188m) the border to Italy, leaving France after the last 6 days.
Down the Aosta valley to Aosta and up the Grand Sankt-Bernhard (2469 m) back into Switzerland. Towards Martigny, it’s a right turn across the Col des Planches (1411m) and Pas du Lein (1656m) to Saxon....despite some missing asphalt it’s a route well worth riding. The following stretch into Saxon is one of my favourites and I let rip, getting ahead a little, separating from the group, which pissed off Lothar somewhat.
(To vent his frustration, he made the Buell stand on it’s rear, nearly flipping it.)
Instead of turning up-river to Sion and Sierre to Brig, we turned left in town, crossed the main valley to Leytron and Ovronnaz to Grugnay.
Just short of town the day ended at a quiet camp site, which, above all, also turned out to be one of the cheapest @ 10 SFr/ head incl. Bike. Even the tent-pegs slipped into the soft ground easily and the restaurant nearby didn’t look too shabby either.
The evening revealed a significant loss of rubber on Lothar’s Buell and Dietmar’s BMW,
so the search for fresh hoops started by mobil-phone with a call to the ADAC/ Germany referring us to the Italian AutoClub in Milano...resulting in the info that only brand-dealers were applicable. No hope then to get things done in Tirano (see day11) We finally manged to find a tyre-dealer in Klagenfurt, expecting to be there on day14 , Monday 31.07.00.
Somewhat later than planned, but hopefully the tyres would last until then.

9 day routing:



First up the Rhone valley to Sion, where Dietmar swallowed hard at the prices for a new camping stove.
Steadily uphill to Anzère, but from here the road was closed, in spite of what the maps told us. No problems....a shortaround got us via Crans to Montana, the views into the Rhone Valley and across into the ice-capped 4000m+ mountains are stunning.

valley Rhone




Montana is a posh place and accordingly busy, time for the downhiller into Sierre and up-valley via Susten to Visp.
There’s another little gem lurking here, turning south into the Matter Valley.
Just past the long tunnel at the start there was only 2 of us....turned out, that Dietmar had received a call on the mobile-phone.

By the way: If you are in this region, take a step to Zermatt! A very beautiful town and an wonderful landscape! We didn’t had the time, but I show you a few pictures from another holiday:



Castor and Pollux






On to Stalden then, where a tiny road turns right, signed to Törbel and Embd.
A steep uphiller with glorious views follows and past Törbel it’s still uphill, the road seemingly leading no-where, baffling for a first-timer. Above 2000m, the Moosalm makes a fantastic lunch-stop location, the views are gorgeous.
Back via Zeneggen to Visp and Brig and the start of the old Simplon-Pass-Road.
It’s steep uphill, the road turns off in Ried and isn’t all that long but still a way-better ride than the new Simplonpass (2005m)....with which it eventually merges.
Here we called the tyre-dealer in Klagenfurt, to confirm all arrangements made for the tyre-change a few days ahead.




Gondo Gorge


Through the Gondo Gorge to Domodossola, then towards Locarno and the Lago Maggiore. East via Malesco into the Centovalli, honouring it’s name of the „Hundred Valleys“.




Locarno greets us at rushhour and we’re gladly tacking south-west, around the head of the lake to Magadino and Vira, turning left here across the Alpe di Néggia (1395m).
The road, which returns to the shore at Maccagno, is an absolut delight !!

Along the shore to Luino , then left to Ponte Tresa at Lake Lugano, the day’s getting long. Around 8pm we hit the camp grounds along the shore at Agno ....which is NOT a good recommendation anymore (there’s another one only a few hundred meters away).
The spot turned out very pricey (around 20 DM/ head) and things were very crammed (partially due to high water-levels of the lake)

10 day routing:



Starting around the usual 8.30 - 9.00am, the run through Lugano was quick...crossing into Italy after a blat along the north-shore of the lake, tacking east to Porlezza.

Lake Lugano


Here the rain caught up with us again, time for the wet-gear to come out.
From Menággio on Lake Como, it’s up the left shore via Dongo and Gravedona to the head of the lake, then north to Chiavenna for a left turn up the Splügenpass (2113m), where the rain decided it had enough for the day.
The downhill stretch offered itself for a photo-session, getting some great shots of Lothar and Werner through the maze of hairpins.






After the fill-up in Thusis it’s off to go to Tiefencastel. After lunch at Surava (the restaurant is right next to the road, very recommendable) the Albulapass (2312m) waited with a surprise...zooming downhill at a great rate of knots were some scooter-riders...the type of foldable scooter with the tiny 3“ wheels.
First Samedan, then Pontresina on the way across the Berninapass (2328m)

Engadin and St. Moritz


at Berninapass








Bernina Express


at Berninapass








Poschiavo and Lake Poschiavo




and from Poschiavo to Brusio, where the local narrow-gauge Railway does a complete loop, crossing below itself on its way south.

Brusio and Bernina Express



By the way: If you are travelling here, and a train is on your street – don’t wonder! It’s normal! It’s the Bernina-Express!!!

Bernina Express





Turning left in Tirano to Mazzo di Valtelino, where the Passo di Mortirolo (aka Passo della Foppa) (1896m) starts off....another one of my favourites and a definite highlight NOT to be missed. Turning right at the top onto the tiny Passo di Guspessa (1824m), up to 25% drop, the way leads back down into the valley.
Turn right for the Passo di Aprica (1113m). Werner and Lothar knew the camp site here ...and Dietmar had the dubious pleasure of cleaning out the topcase once more, this time is was the garlic-sauce that’d popped the top.

11 day routing:


to be continued!

22-02-2007, 04:01 PM
What a trip, Rudi!! I'm absolutely blown away by Col de Tende! Will have a word with Pete later on and see, if I can talk him into re-routing our next trip slightly...... :wink:

Has anyone noticed - the higher the altitude the bluer the sky? I love the report and I love the pics, Rudi! Well done! Please continue soon!

25-02-2007, 05:42 PM
Lake Lugano

What a shot !!! And what a ride :D :D :D
Beautiful stuff again, Rudi.
Even though I'd seen the text before, together with the pics it's a completely different thing, the pics string it all together.
Thanks for posting it....and a bigger thanks for scanning in all those slides, it's a hell of a job (been there, done that...it takes forever).
:chug: :chug: :chug:

27-02-2007, 02:22 AM
European Alps
The big loop

17 days...5800km

Part III - and finish!


A quick stab east to Edolo then south to Forno Allione for the turn off across the Passo di Vivione (1828m), another superb bike-road, but VERY narrow.
Not seeing much traffic, the road follows the rock cliff on the way down...very exposed....to Schilpário.
Here I goofed, taking a wrong turn and we had to turn back in Azzaro to get to Borno and Breno where it’s up the Passo di Croce Dominii (1892m), warp speed fun for a
Cappuccino at the top.
Towards Bagolino and about 10km short of town my mirrors were empty...Waiting a few minutes, I turned back just to find Dietmar and the others at one of the bends.
Dietmar hadn’t kept top the far right and clipped an oncoming car with his left pannier, the bike glanced into the rock on the right, removing the other pannier and crashbar....but luckily body-damage was minimal, nothing apart from a decent bruise on the lower leg.
The material-damage was sizeable, though...and the police rolled up shortly after for a report, placing Dietmar squarely in the wrong, hmmmm...things certainly would’ve turned out differently if Dietmar had stuck to the far right, but to place the „at fault“ solely on his shoulders at such a narrow road??
Revisiting the spot a forthnight later I measured the width of the road as 10 feet in total.

this is the place!


Dietmar enquiries afterwards to possibly change those findings before a court in Italy didn’t look too promising either.
Luckily the right pannier was still usable and Dietmar was able to continue.
Turning right in Bagolino to Lago d’Idro, we turned north to Lodrone for a, by now, late lunch and we decided to quit the day’s riding at Auer, south of Bolzano.
Going on through the Ledro Valley

Lake Ledro


we turned right before the tunnel leading to Riva di Garda to use a small backroad which sadly finished in Pregásina (beautiful spot).

Lake Garda


Later I discovered the road I’d been after from a lookout at the opposite side of Lake Garda.
Despite that, the road is reported to be closed for motorized vehicles, a pity, as it’s a real twister in stunning surrounds.
Short of Riva di Garda we turned left to Lago di Tenno to get to Ponte Arche and Molveno.

near Molveno


Turning right in Andalo (just after Molveno) it’s across to Mezzolombardo and finally onto the Trento – Bolzano main road. Auer wasn’t far off as it started to rain 2km short of the target. Only a short shower though....as we pitched tents in the dry.

The well-known hospitality of Paula and Markus at the Camp site was a welcome end to the day.

12 day routing:



To recoup some of the time we’d squandered along the way, we decided to to change plans and streamline our route through the Dolomite Mountains, still using the byways and backroads for the run across the Staller Sattel.
Through Bolzano and up the Sarn Valley, turning right towards the Ritten Mountain, climbing steeply into Klobenstein for the obligatory Cappuccino-Break.







Via Lengstein to Barbian....enjoying the views into the Eisack Valley along the way. A short left-right on the valley-floor and steeply uphill to Lajen. Then along a narrow but very scenic stretch to Gufidaun and into the Villnöss-valley. Turning left in Sankt Peter and up the Kofeljoch (1863m) followed by the Würzjoch (2004m).

at Würzjoch





The Furkelpass (1759 m) was next, after the left turn to Welschen and Zwischenwasser turning right to St. Vigil.
Dropping into the Puster-Valley it was another quick right-left for the entry to the Antholzer-Valley, with the Staller Saddle at the end of it. We had to make it a bit of a rush, to catch the alloted time-slot for the alternating-30 Minute usage of the single-lane section....otherwise it’d be another hour of wait for the next time-slot. So it was full-steam up the valley and we hit the gates at Antholzer Lake with only 3 Min. to spare to make the Staller-Sattel (2052m) crossing into Austria.

A short stop at the top was the start of a leisurly cruise down the Defereggen Valley via Sankt Jakob and Sankt Veit , turning right into the Tauern Valley and the city of Lienz.




Across the Iselsberg (1204m) and Winklern to Heiligenblut at the Großglockner.

After paying the toll of 230 Austrian Shillings it was up one of the ‚crown“-roads of the Alps, the Großglockner-Hochalpenstraße. The starting rain dropped a little ‚fly in the soup“ as we climbed the Franz-Josefs-Höhe and on the way to the Hochtor (2575m).

With clear skies, there's an incredible view into the maze of glaciers of the Grossglockner. And just below the viewing-platform, the local Murmeltiere (Marmots) frolick away without a worry in the world.

Franz-Josefs-Höhe and Großglockner










The higher we climbed, the more the landscape turned to white...as rain turned into snow. Things turned decidedly uncomfortable as the snow depth continued to grow...time to turn back and go south, through Carthania.
The wet-gear came off shortly after Heiligenblut as the skies broke up and turned blue....on towards Winklern, for a left turn onto the B106. Through Außerfragant, Obervellach and Mühldorf to Möllbrücke ending the day here, as the camp area occupies a nice setting and has a good kitchen, despite the next morning’s traffic noise coming off the B106

13 day routing:



Monday morning found us tracking north to Spittal and Gmünd to Kremsbrücke, start of the Nockalm-Road , which winds itself through the National Park Nockberge, climbing above 2000m (Eisentalhöhe 2015 m and Schistlscharte 2042 m) to end at the town of Ebene Reichenau.
Tacking south, we turned off west to Bad Kleinkirchheim and left again in Radentheim onto the B98. Past Brennsee and Afritzer-See to the turnoff to Villach hitting some stop-go traffic due to roadworks.
Towards the Wurzenpass it was time for a break, and the Pizzeria at the turnoff turned out to be a good find...highly recommendable. Not just a great Pizza, but the portions were humungous.
Across the Wurzenpass (1073m) into Slovenia and Kranjska Gora, turnoff for the 50+ hairpins of the Vršič-Pass (1611m). Bovec and Kobarid were next, an area that reminded me of the Karl May book „The Gorges of the Balkans“.


Past Tolmir onto route 403 to Kneža and Koritnica to Podbrdo .
An easy find was Bohinjská Bistrica and a right turn after Bled to Radovljica. A small backroad leads through Zapuže and Zgoša to Bistrica, start of the Loiblpass (1367m) and straight into Klagenfurt.
There’s a big Honda dealership at the edge of town and they were friendly enough to change my worn brake pads the next day. The search for a camp site along the shores of the Wörthersee became a bit more drawn out than planned, but finally succeeded near the head of the lake.

14 day routing:



First up into Klagenfurt to get the tyres and brakes seen to and things worked out near perfect. Lothar got rid of his slicks just in time for the run through Sankt Veit an der Glan and onto the Gurk Valley road. Next Kraig and Pisweg , then Gurk... turning right to Zwischenwässern. From Althofen onto the Klippitztörl-Passstraße (1644m), another beautiful bike-road.
At Wiesenau it was a right turn across the Twimberg and towards the Packsattel (1169m). Passing through Köchlach and Voitsberg along the backroads to Geistthal and Großstübing we reached the Mur Valley at Kleinstübing, following the idyllic Mur Valley to Bruck an der Mur, which was the eastern-most point of our ride.
Turning west, through to Leoben for a right turn to Eisenerz.

Just past the saddle of the Präbichl (1227m) is the Erzberg , a gigantic open-cut mine, which also gets used for the annual MX-races. It sure is a tourist-attraction but it also glaringly shows the damage to nature that commerce creates.
The map-marked camping area on the shores of Lake Leopoldsteiner doesn’t seem to exist anymore. A few km’s up the road a sign showed a turn towards another camp....and ran straight into the welcoming arms of the lady running the place, greeting us like long-lost sons...
It turned out, that due to some earthworks her business was badly affected and the local Shire was prepared to compensate her accordingly...resulting in free accomodation for us if we’d only sign into her book.
No complains here...even though we felt a bit guilty, particularly after the easy-pitch on the lush, soft lawns...


15. day routing:



A major run west today, but not without dipping into another scenic highlight: The Salzkammergut area. Following the B 115 to Hieflau, we turned left onto the B 146 Through Gesäuse and Admont, Liezen, Steinach and Bad Mittendorf to Bad Aussee.
Then across the Koppenpass (630 m) towards Lake Hallstätter and with a short stop along its shores, to Hallstadt, Bad Goisern, Bad Ischl to the Lake Traun.

Lake Hallstätter





Lake Traun





Leaving the shores at Mitterndorf it’s via Neukirchen to Steinbach at the Attersee, a restaurant on the shore provided a nice lunch stop.

We continued to Unterach at the Mondsee, looping the lake to Gilgen as the direct route was closed, Last lake on the route was the Wolfgang-See, turning in Strobl onto a tiny toll-road to the Post-Alm, a beautiful, but narrow stretch in very scenic surrounds....the views across to the Dachstein are breathtaking.
Lake Moon


Lake St. Wolfgang



Dachstein Mointains


Via Golling to Hallein and onto the B 160 back into Germany. The Rossfeld-Highroad was next on the „Program of Dream Roads“ , the toll being worth every cent.
Views into the valleys are stunning either way... Austrian or german direction.



Through Berchtesgaden on the B 305 across the Schwarzbachwachtsattel (868 m) towards Inzell for our final camp site just south of Ruhpolding.
Very recommendable, too...clean, very much looked-after and very reasonable at 12DM/ head

16 day routing:



The last day started with rain through the night...but the morning was initially dry...
Back via Reit im Winkel into Austria and Kössen along the Walchsees to Niederndorf....just as it started to rain again, time for the wet-gear once more.
Dietmar split for a straight run home to Munich as we were turning left towards Kufstein...and promptly the rain stopped.
First Kufstein, then St. Johann and Kitzbühel, across Pass Thurn (1274m) and into Mittersil. For our last lunch-stop.

at Gerlospass


After the break it was across the Gerlospass (1507m) into the Zillertal (Ziller Valley), where a roadworks-section with lights had us confused...as the lights turned green, so did the lights for the opposing traffic and weren’t we glad to be on bikes, things got a bit squeezy.
In Zell am Ziller it was a left turn to get onto the Zillertaler-Highroad, pity that it started to rain around the top and views were non-exist.

View from the Zillertaler-Highroad (from another tour)










After a short break in one of the Cafes we continued on, as the rain kept coming down right up the front door at Sonthofen. Past the Achensee and across the Achenpass (941m), then along the shores of the Sylvensteinspeicher. Vorderriß and Garmisch-Partenkirchen were next. Erwald and Reutte followed, let’s not forget the Gaicht-Pass (1082m) and Oberjoch-Pass (1180m) along the way....back to a wet Sonthofen.

17 day routing:



All up it was 5800km in 17 days, averaging about 340/ day. 92 passes of all sorts and calibers, endless hairpins and a load of fun. The weather-gods meant well with us, wetgear was need on only 3 occasions, and most of those fairly short, while the folks at home copped a lot more of the wet stuff during the same time.

We followed nearly all of the route detailed in the book mentioned above...and it’s a absolute hoot! Despite my knack for finding good bike-roads over the years...I couldn’t have picked any better.
The most scenic stretches, the best bike roads (with little traffic)
„Werner-without-lights“ (since his problems with the alternator at the start of the trip)
„Lothar-Slick“ (his rear hoop was down to the canvas by Klagenfurt)
„Dr. Kamikaze“ (Dietmar, because of his prang at the Croce Dominii)
and I proved to be a good team, travelling at a nice clip which made nobody wait around...
Dietmar with his culinary and language skills was a great addition to the group, adding lots of action to the proceedings with bald tyres, various repairs to the BMW, the spilt honey and garlic-sauce in the topbox and the accident...
It was a ball and I’d do it again in a flash, this time taking more time to snoop around some areas a little more...
Werner’s complaints about the „ too many stops“ were a regular thing....but with scenery like that (and a smoker, Lothar, in the group), stops are really a „must“.
I rather like riding much and often myself, but breaks are essential... otherwise there’s no use in visiting an area like the Alps.

So - that's the whole story!

Best greatings from Germany

27-02-2007, 07:10 AM


Ahhhhh, THE classic shot of the Matterhorn :D :D
Part of chocolate-bar wrappers and every 2. calender, place-mats and advertising everywhere....
Taken through the supports of the hay-barns in Findeln, above Zermatt.
Loved that pic ever since I was a kid.
Let's hope the weather is as good when we get there in September....

27-02-2007, 07:21 AM
Hi Pete,

you're right!

But this picture is one of my own!
I have a poster from it on the wall (and from the one under it)!


27-02-2007, 07:22 AM
Just went through the last part... WHOWW :shock: :shock:
And the whole lot was 17days? Jammed-packed they were, no doubt, just makles me wonder what we'll come across in more than twice that time ?

Many, many thanks for posting it up, as Nev said before, a fantastic report with even better pics and yes...it certainbly raised the bar.

Has anyone noticed the number of bikes on those lookouts/ carparks?

Thanks Rudi !!!!! :D :D :D
:chug: :chug:

28-02-2007, 10:37 AM
Hi Pete,

you're right!

But this picture is one of my own!
I have a poster from it on the wall (and from the one under it)!


It just brings back faint memories....spent a 3 weeks summer-holiday in Findeln as a 6or7 year old and that angle was about my standard view of the place....sometimes one sees more when only a meter tall :lol:

28-02-2007, 09:38 PM
Wuerzjoch! St. Moritz, Murmeltiere (marmots)!!! My head is spinning!
Rudi, I've been on your trip today - and I'm not back yet. Whao!
Great trip, great report - keep riding and writing, Rudi. You have to tie me through the next 7 months (make that 6 1/2) until we come and do it ourselves.
Well done!! :thumbs: