Articles

Epic ride through Dolomites and Alps - part 4

By John Harden, 27/12/2013 14:44:02
Log book says I slept over 9 hours last night. Must have felt good. I was up at 8, had a very quick breakfast at the hotel and decided to get some quick shopping in before leaving town. Bought a few things for my wife and kids, then headed out.
Switzerland!!!!

Log book says I slept over 9 hours last night. Must have felt good. I was up at 8, had a very quick breakfast at the hotel and decided to get some quick shopping in before leaving town. Bought a few things for my wife and kids, then headed out.

Don't think I mentioned it, but my poor wife is at home with my 3 year old son and our infant daughter while I'm off on this trip. She's the best, so I need to pick up something nice for her.

Time to get on the road.

My destination is Andermatt, Switzerland. Andermatt is to the Alps, what Corvara and Cortina are to the Dolomistes. It's locaton, serves as a great central "camp" or a jumping off point for day long rides out into the surrounding mountains. I'm looking forward to it!!!!!

I'm headed West, North/West on the SR234. 

I'm a real estate/construction guy and not much of a writer, so I'll let the Dolomites and Alps speak for me.



Don't know who these folks are but they look awful cold hugging that big G. Yes, that's snow on the ground around them. It was cold last night.





Not sure if this is a real castle or not, but it is absolutely huge and very cool looking.



This is a great shot of the typical "highway" or main road through the valleys. Hardly a freeway by American standards, but given how little traffic they get, it is perfect for their needs and a heck of a lot more personal.



Agriculture is a big part of the lives of these folks. With all the water run off from the higher elevations, it shouldn't be a surprise. What was surprising was how beautifully lush everything is, even in late September. The plants, crops, and even flowers are all well adapted to the altitude and weather conditions. They are adapted to make the most of the brief summers.







The weather has been beautiful. Not too cold and the high puffy clouds make for great photos. I was shocked at how lush and green everything was, despite the cold weather. At night the temperature drops down below freezing.




Still moving

After the first day or two, I noticed that I wasn't writing all that much in my log book, so I re-doubled my efforts and attempted to write something every time I pulled over and shut off the bike, and definitely at lunch and rest breaks. 

As a result, even now 18 months later, I can still give you a good ride report. 

Had lunch in a very small town called Schulderns.

Made my way over to SR24 and 28, then Karen (GPS voice), forever whispering in my earphones interruped Pink Floyd to tell me to turn right and prepare to board a ferry..... 

I reached up and checked the GPS and there wasn't a meaingful body of water within 50 miles of me. Nevertheless, she was insistent and I had learned never to doubt the women in my life, so I motored on.

A little ways up the road, I came to a toll booth. The sign showed a special rate for motorcycles to board, yet the lady asked me if I was sure I wanted to go aboard on the bike. I said, "yes", paid my money and drove up the road to get in line.
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Didn't take long to figure out that this "Ferry" was a rail road train. Sure enough, you had to ride out onto a platform, then ride out onto flat rail road cars. This was going to be interesting....
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After we got settled, the train began to slowly move. I quickly figured out that the safest way to do this was to put the bike in gear, kill the engine and put it on the side stand, basically locking it in place. 

The train entered a very narrow tunnel that passed through the mountain range. I imagine it saved everyone an hour or two driving high mountain roads. It was a VERY long tunnel. Trip must have taken 20 minutes or so and my log book says that based on the approximate speed of the train I figured it be a 8+ kilometer underground tunnel. Pretty wild ride. Pitch black and the large openings in the side "guard rails" were only about 3 feet off the deck. I stayed on the bike, but of course took a photo over the back of my head. Guy behind me is reading the paper. 
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Finally, we pulled into the station and disembarked from our ferry. Pretty cool ride.
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Time to get moving again and on to Switzerland. 
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Very beautiful country and it is easy to feel the "Swiss" way of doing things. Everything just seems to be more orderly. Still, that doesn't mean that everything doesn't come to a stop for a herd of cows crossing the road.
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Time to get a moving. It's still a long way to Andermatt, and it is getting colder.


On to Andermatt!!!!!

This was going to be a long day. I didn't help that I stopped frequently to take photos of the country side. 

In case you hadn't picked up on this through the trip report, I don't much care for riding in groups, or going on guided tours. Sure, they have their place, but I just don't like schedules or pre-prepared events. My preference is to be with my wife and kids or friends. Unfortunately, that just wasn't in the cards for this trip. 

So, we get to enjoy this trip together!!! Here's a few more for your viewing pleasure!!







Kilometers are starting to rack up on my brand new rental bike!!!!!!









Okay, that was a long ride!!!! Its getting late in the day, and while the sun is still out, the temperature is dropping rapidly. 

To reach Andermatt, you must pass over an 8000' peak. Needless to say, there was almost no traffic as I purred on through.... Yes, it was very brisk, but it was also absolutely beautiful!!!! 

As you can see from the photos, it was totally socked in at higher altitudes. Even with no traffic on the mountain, I was reduced to 2nd gear for quite a lot of it. As a result, it took quite a while to climb up and over the mountain range.



Arrival at Andermatt!!!!!


Andermatt

Andermatt, in case you weren't aware is a central hub for motorcycle exploration of the Swiss Alps.

Hotel Monopol Metropol is one of the standby's for motorcycle riders. This makes perfect sense as Andermatt is a very small town of only a few thousand people and the Metropol sits right on the main traffic circle in town, providing easy access to the adjacent mountain passes. 

Very nice looking hotel, isn't it?!?!?!?



Of course a river runs through it!!!!



Excellent example of a very "Swiss" bit of architecture.



Very nice local place on the square. We'll be re-visiting this in a short while......



Night time in Andermatt


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