• Tag Archives Contour HD720
  • Klausenpass-film

     

    The Klausenpass at 1948m is one of the most beautiful Swiss passes and one of my all time favourites. I’ve written about it as being a great ride destination in the “Favourite Swiss and French Alpine passes” section.

    Today I’ve finally got round to posting a film so you can see what all the fuss is about.  Riding the pass from top to bottom takes around 40 minutes dependent on how often you stop for photos.

    Click link below to view the film of the ascent.

    AlpineBiker-Klausenpass

     

    Hope you enjoy!


  • Passo di Giau- Italian Dolomites & Col du Galibier-French Alps

     

    Click on the link below to see a film in one of the most beautiful locations I found during my riding this year.

     

    AlpineBiker- Passo di Giau

     

    Click on the link below to see film of a descent of the Col du Galibier in August this year.

     

    AlpineBiker- Col du Galibier

     

     


  • 2012 tour dates and pricing confirmed

    I’m pleased to announce confirmed tour dates, itineraries and pricing for next years AlpineBiker tours, so if you’ve ever fancied taking a tour in the Alps or Dolomites and don’t want the hassle of booking your own hotels or finding routes, why not check out next years tour options, and if you’re not sure how good they are, spend a minute or two to check the riders comments section on the website, www.alpinebiker.com

    4 different tour options to choose  from:

    3 days 4 nights in the Jura/French Alps

    6 days 7 nights in the French Alps

    7 days 8 nights in the Swiss Alps  OR

    NEW for 2012

    10 days 11 nights in the Swiss Alps / Italian Dolomites.

    Thanks for looking!

    Cheers

    Paul

     


  • The Dolomites revisted

     

    10 years in the making! That’s how long my wife Sue had had to wait for me to take her on a return trip to the Dolomites. I hadn’t helped my case by riding there in July and telling her how good it had been, so with the weather promising great things for the next few days, we set off towards Gletsch and the Furka and Oberalp passes en route to the Dolomites.

    The first night we stopped in Ardez and took the opportunity to walk round before the evening meal to see the beautifully restored buildings with their ornate paintings. The town is perched on a hill so many of the buildings are sloping to match the contours of the land.

    Local church

    Beautiful detailing in the doorway

    Intricate painting, shown in greater detail in the following two shots.

    The town is watched over by an old tower

    Amazingly accurate sundial

    One of my favourite photos from the whole tour, the tower in evening sunshine

    Here it is first thing the next morning and you can see it sitting atop it’s own hill

    Day 2 saw us heading into Italy, circumnavigating the Stelvio which looked pretty cold, and aiming for the Jaufenpass and PenserJoch which had been in low cloud during the July tour, but today were much more inviting

    Jaufenpass

     

    Penserjoch

    I missed this shot last time, it’s just outside Bolzano

    I had booked us into the same hotel as visited in July, views from here are amazing

    Sunsets are beautiful here

     

     

    Morning sun starting to light up the valley

    First pass of the day was the Sella, but it was packed with cars and was extremely busy, so much so we didn’t stop too long, other than to take some pictures of course

    The Valparola and Falzarego passes meet at this point

    Busy souvenir and coffee shop

    After consulting the map we made a quick change of route and took the Falzarego down and joined the road leading to the Passo Giau. I hadn’t ridden the Giau before but it turned out to be an inspirational choice as the sights at the top were outstandingly beautiful!

    Amazing how this huge hotel looks superimposed against the towering mountain here in Misurina.

    Return via the Passo Staulanza

    Next day saw a demand from Sue for a “gentler” pace, my enthusiasm for the roads hadn’t been appreciated quite so much by my better half who insisted we take more time to see the scenery today!

    The Passo di Fedaia was an excellent start and we were greeted with these great images with the still waters reflecting the mountains in mirror images

    Not quite as beautiful, but more mirror images, this time houses

    The Passo Cereda

    Coffee stop but too many wasps around attracted by the flowers which were everywhere

    Amazing bends descending the Cereda

    More great mountains and views en route to the Passo Rolle

    We ate  at the top of the pass and watched bikers come and go, including a husband, wife, daughter and friend group from Germany. Nice to see women riding and the first time I’ve seen a mother and daughter pairing, fair play to them!

    Another new pass explored, the Nigerpass

    Back at the hotel and some pics of the artwork

    The return home saw us pass through some beautiful countryside towards Castelrotto and later onto the Passo Mendolo. This was perhaps the best surfaced pass of the tour and is clearly where all the locals hone their racing skills because the pass was full of sports bikes being ridden flat out everywhere in formation fly pasts. Rossi look out, there are a lot of wannabes out there and some pretty fast ones too!

    This house appeared in a magazine I read at the hotel so had to take my own picture too

    We found a great little spot in Cagno for a lunch break with a great view

    We decided to try and stop and find a hotel in Lugano, but baulking at the prices of those we found which all seemed to be 3 star Superior establishments, we eventually turned into a motel we found in Vezia, expecting it to be cheap, but it turned out not to be that much cheaper than the hotels we had discounted earlier. We were too tired to look further, and at least the room was directly over the secure garage. Apparently the hotel was first built in 1956 and charged 31chf a night, being one of the first in the country to incorporate a room and garage, and at least each room was decorated tastefully with designer pictures and furniture.

    It started to rain soon after we arrived and we settled for a pizza in the restaurant opposite and hoped the weather would improve for the final day tomorrow.

    With only 340 or so kms to return we had plenty of time, although the GPS didn’t show the correct exit around Locarno and we ended up retracing our steps. Clearly the function NO U TURNS doesn’t work very well! There is always an upside though as the new route took us into some stunning countryside and great roads, starting with quite possibly the steepest and tightest hairpin bend I have ever ridden! Luckily the large and well positioned mirror showed I had time to make the turn before the descending vehicle arrived as if I’d had to stop I don’t think I’d have ever made the turn!

    Here is a church? We came across in Re, literally in the middle of nowhere. A huge and impressive building, another major surprise of this route

    McDonalds at Brig signalled a mere two hours before we would be back at home, and though it’s always nice to be in your own bed, we really had had an epic tour with some great scenery, weather, and memories. Hopefully Sue won’t have to wait another 10 years before she can experience them again!

    The trip stats were 2063.4kms and 33 hours and 58 minutes of riding.

     


  • AlpineBiker tours- feedback

    If you are one of the 18,500 visitors to this blog since I started posting in 2009, thanks very much for your visit, and I hope you found something on here of interest to you.  My blog however, is an add-on to my main website www.alpinebiker.com. which perhaps you may not have visited yet?  The tour website features films, pictures and details of the types of alpine tours I offer,  and have run so far.

    I put a lot of time and effort into providing excellent quality and high value tours, and into giving people a really special riding experience in the  amazing  mountain scenery and awesome alpine passes, and from being on some of the best roads in Europe.  My tours have attracted riders from all over the world,  and I’m very proud to be able to post just a few representative comments from some of those riders from America,  Norway and  Australia, who have recently taken an AlpineBiker tour and thoroughly enjoyed it . (Check the tour website for other comments from riders from the UK, Canada, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands)

    If you haven’t yet visited the tour website www.alpinebiker.com, perhaps these comments may inspire you to do so and see what these guys are talking about, and see for yourself what you’ve been missing?

     

    Eddie (USA) Your passion for motorcycling and touring the Alps is apparent in your attitude and from the detailed planning and thinking that went into making the trip a once in a lifetime vacation. Thank you for sharing that gift and passion with me and the others. I would not hesitate to highly recommend you to others and to book another trip with you in the future.  Sincerely  Eddie”

    eddie

    Mike (Canada) It clearly takes a true biker with a wealth of experience riding in the region to put together a spectacular tour like the one we enjoyed this summer. It also takes hard work and an eye for detail in the planning phase. I think the “something extra” that assured the success of our tour was your patience, good humour and genuine interest in seeing us all really enjoy ourselves.

    Thanks Paul for an amazing adventure. I am certainly recommending an alpinebiker tour to my biking friends and acquaintances, and I am looking forward to my next chance to ride with you”.

    mike

     

    Nick & Terese (Australia) “Great ride, beautiful scenery, great company, great food and accomodation. We had an awesome time and it really was the trip of a lifetime for us “flatlanders”.

    nick and therese


    Dan (USA) “
    A big thanks for your efforts in having this tour exceed every expectation we had prior to the start of the journey. I look forward to our next “once in a lifetime ride with you next summer!”

    DAN

    Chris (USA) “Hands down one of the best trips of my life! Paul is a terrific guide with extensive knowledge of the roads. He is also a hell of a lot of fun to have a beer with! This trip exceeded expectations with both Paul’s leadership of the tour, and the quality of the lodging and food at the Le Biot chalet”.

    CHRIS

    Steve (USA) ” I would like to thank you for a once in a lifetime (well until next year) experience.Your planning, expertise and riding skills made it the thrill of a lifetime”

    Steve

    Rob (USA) ” Paul’s experience and organisation set this trip apart from any other. Perhaps the best biking trip I have ever taken”

    ROB

    Paul (USA) ” The once in a lifetime long weekend Alps riding tour experience with Paul Starmer exceeded my expectations. So much for once in a lifetime- I’ll be back, maybe Spain or the Dolomites next time!”
    Paul

    Cesar (USA) “An AlpineBiker tour is the experience of a lifetime. Excellent roads, challenging passes, great accomodation, breathtaking landscapes and perfect logistics let’s you worry about nothing but to enjoy and work on your riding skills. Paul’s catering to everyone’s needs and riding styles will make your experience second to none. You will leave wanting to come back and adding Paul to the list of your friends!”

    cesar

    Cary (USA) ” Thanks for a fabulous tour. The routes we rode, and the sights we saw are unparalleled. The lodging and food was first class; and your easy demeanour, local knowledge and flexibility made our tour an unforgettable experience. AlpineBiker.com tours is a must for those who want to ride the Alpine”

    cary

    Trond (Norway) “Paul, I have had the best of times. Your tour, riding and companionship really made this an event for the history books. Enjoyed myself enormously!”

    “Do not think twice about getting one of his tours. I`m usually a do it yourself kind of guy, but this experience really was something else. If you have time, just do it. I`m quite sure you wont regret it”

    trond



  • 15 days, 4 countries- Part 6 The final chapter

    PART 6- THE FINAL CHAPTER

    Friday- Today we start on what will be the last leg of our journey together as a group. We will be crossing the Fluela, Wolfgang and Klausen passes to our end destination of Andermatt.

    The Fluela is one of those passes that I don’t ride as often as I should, and it’s a good un, starting only 10kms from the hotel.

    View back down the valley

    It’s quite bleak at the top today with very little traffic of any description up here

    Eddie throwing snowballs at Nick, I said it was cold up there!

    On the section of motorway skirting Liechtenstein we stopped at a services there for mid morning coffee and some great blueberry buns!

    There was a kids attraction called Heidiland where wooden characters appeared out of this building and music played, whilst down below goats in a pen kept small children amused.

    Once off the motorway there is a frustrating section of countless small villages and 50kph speed limits, but soon enough we arrived at the start of the pass where we stopped and I warned the group to take care on the first corners which are paved.

    Roadworks and a tunnel delayed initial progress but soon we are ascending and enjoying the mountains and waterfalls that make this such a great pass.

    The group spent ages taking photos and I’d been at the top for a while before Nick and Terese arrived.

    Church on top of pass

    With Eddies arrival we went into the restaurant and ordered some food and drink and waited for Mike and Dave. When they didn’t appear we started to get worried, even asking a German who pulled up outside if he had seen anyone? Eventually they did turn up and it transpired that Dave’s bike hadn’t started way down at the foot of the pass, and he’d had to take panels off it to find the solution, which was a faulty battery connection which he was able to fix before catching up with Mike who had gone back to look for him.

    So after yet more BMW dramas we resumed our journey, but only after the low level cloud which enveloped the pass had blown away.

    Great valley on way down

    With the Klausen despatched it was back towards Wassen and the tunnels that lead to Andermatt

    Officially the tour was now over and we had some pretty impressive stats. 4269 kms and nearly 72 hours of riding time. When you consider our moving average speed was less than 60kph, you get an idea of the amount of climbing we had done, with my count being at least 56 passes!

    Saturday- Departure day

    Eddie is the first to leave this morning, but as he has several days left before returning to the US, his plan is to head for Zermatt to see the Matterhorn. We just hope the cloud lifts enough for him to at least see something!

    As the rest of us are readying ourselves, a group of young guys on a mix of scooters and mopeds pulled up at the petrol station outside the hotel, and I watched as they poured pre-mix oil into their two strokes, which brought back memories of my early riding experiences and a two stroke Puch Maxi moped.

    The weather looks iffy again and starting in waterproofs turns out to be a smart move as the Sustenpass is wet, very wet. Lights shining through the murk and gloom we make our cautious way up and over the pass which we had ridden a week earlier in the opposite direction in almost ideal conditions compared to today.

    We all rode together as far as Interlaken where we stopped for coffee, to try and get warm, and to say our farewells to Dave and Mike who now had just a 20km journey to Thun to return their hire bikes before taking a flight back to Canada from Zurich the next day.

    The lake at Interlaken

    Mike and Dave

    Now with only Nick and Terese remaining, we headed for Geneva over the Jaunpass.

    I can’t EVER remember stopping to sleep when out riding, but it was now late afternoon and after 15 days I was tired and needed a power nap, so we pulled over on a convenient layby with benches and both Nick and I slept for half an hour whilst Terese guarded the bikes.

    Finally back close to Geneva and with Nick and Terese installed in a local hotel just a 20 minute ride away from the BMW garage for Monday’s repair work, the tour was officially over, no more bikes in the rear view mirror to check for, no more packing and unpacking of bags, no more mountain passes, just “normality”.

    SUMMARY- Looking back I would have to say this had been an eventful tour, starting from day one with the diesel episode, through 4 drops, and BMW’s which seemed incapable of traversing high mileages without problems. The list comprised: Nicks K1300GT with a leaking driveshaft seal, Daves F800GS with a dodgy battery connection, Eddies GS1200 with leaking captor seal, and my GT which inexplicably lost it’s mudguard extender somewhere on our travels! Only Mikes ST800
    and the hired Deauville and Pan European (once running on petrol!) survived unscathed.

    For the riders, well they survived somewhat better. Nick and I bizarrely both lost weight! Everyone’s riding improved, and they experienced pretty much every type of weather imaginable; from monsoon rains, through sleet and snow, low cloud and mist reduced visibility, and of course, some sunshine! Looking back through this report it seemed that inclement weather impacted on us almost every day, but you know what, that’s what makes alpine riding special. Sitting atop a pass watching clouds drift in and out exposing or hiding amazing views, riding through rain conditions that you’d probably normally never venture out in improves riding skills, and struggling through snow and sleet certainly focuses the mind and concentration. Considering the countries these guys came from and the challenges of alpine riding, they all “done good”. Better still they all got back in one piece, and will have memories which they’ll never forget (neither will I), and tales and bragging rights with their riding buddies to keep them going for years.

    So guys (and Terese), hope you enjoyed yourselves and that reading this tale brings back some happy memories. It was a pleasure to ride with you all, hopefully we will stay in touch, and wear your tour t-shirts with pride, you earnt the right to wear them!

     

    IF READING THIS RIDE REPORT HAS WHET YOUR APPETITE FOR ALPINE TOURING, THEN CHECK OUT THE www.alpinebiker.com WEBSITE FOR DETAILS OF 2012 TOURS- COMING SOON!


  • 15 days, 4 countries- Part 5

    PART 5-

    Wednesday- It’s wet, again! Starting the day in rain gear is a pain, and descending 33 hairpins in the wet is probably not everyone’s idea of fun, but its got to be done as today we are off to Austria and the famous Grossglockner pass.

    We stopped for a break near Dobbiaco Tobblach where hot chocolate warmed damp bodies, and gave Eddie a chance to nip to a nearby accessory shop to buy a new headlight bulb for his GS.

    Wet coffee stop

    Bizzarely we found a great pizza restaurant for lunch. Figure that out, pizza in Austria, surely we should have been eating that in Italy? There was also a group of 3 Brits there who were en route to a wedding in Bled, Slovenia, and I was able to help them figure out where they actually were and how long it would take to get there.

    As we approached the Grossglockner we could see the weather ahead was potentially going to be against us again. Entry to the pass is €19 for a bike and they warned us to take care as there was snow at the top!!!!

    Entry gates

    Here I am taking the picture below of an overcast but very plush valley we had just ascended.

    The road splits further up the pass, and the left fork took us up towards the glacier and this dam

    Glacier

    At the top we took shelter inside a multi-storey car park before braving the elements again, which by now had added high winds to the rain and sleet!


    Here are some pics showing how bad the weather was becoming

    No chance of stopping at the summit we pressed on through the sleet and snow as a few of the group started to have worries about running out of petrol too!

    Here is a film which gives a “real” feel of the conditions

    Grossglockner

    Relieved to have made it down safely and refuelling soon after, we were not far from that nights hotel where the owner allowed us to dry our wet clothing in the ski room.

    We had spotted a BMW dealer in Kaprun and decided that the next morning we would get there early to try and get Nicks driveshaft checked.

    The night was also our last in this group formation as Terry was leaving the next morning to return his bike to Munich and fly back to Canada.

    Thursday – Low cloud, again!

    Terry preparing to depart

    The group stopped off in Kaprun whilst the dealer looked at Nicks bike but didn’t have the parts, and neither did the next dealer in Imst, so I rang back home, asked my friend Mark to ask Chuards in Geneva to order the part identified as being faulty, and book the bike in for a repair first thing Monday morning.

    We stopped in Innsbruck for lunch and took just a little time to do some sightseeing.

    Caught indulging myself with an ice cream!

    Leaving Austria

    Crossing the border back into Switzerland

    Our hotel that evening was in Ardez and riding around the village found it to be situated in some great countryside.

    Evening meal was a buffet and the dessert buffet was magnificent!

    ALMOST AT THE END NOW, ONE FINAL REPORT TO COME!

     


  • 15 days, 4 countries- Part 4

    PART 4

    Monday-   I love the atmospheric pictures clouds create, and here are some early morning pictures taken from the hotel looking down the valley to Canazei

    Today is a luggage free day, here we are saddled up and ready to go.

    First pass of the day, loads more to follow

    These ironwork statues grabbed my attention

    Another pass, more amazing scenery

    Passo Duran

    Lunch break

    Ready to go again

    This was one of the days bigger and faster passes

    Moena, Close to the hotel

    Miles racking up along with altitude!

    Tuesday- Another day without bags and the first pass of the day, the Sella, provides some  amazing views

     

     

    Next the Grodner Joch


    EddieTerryMikePasso ValporolaWar museum

    Coffee break, always nice to go where bikers are welcome

    For the Tre Croci pass Mike took the lead with me filming. Unfortunately for him it proved to be possibly the worst surfaced col of all, but it didn’t stop us both being overtaken at a great rate of knots by one of the local heroes on a supermotard in just jeans, jacket and trainers.

    Bikes parked at lunch stop

    We rode many other passses that day and returned to the hotel over the 33 numbered bends of the Passo Pordoi, great going up today but not going to be so much fun descending in the rain tomorrow!

    Again, not many kms but some great roads and passes, scenery, and probably some of the best memories of the trip

    I’LL POST THE FINAL INSTALMENT NEXT WEEK, AS I  NEED TO GIVE THE PC AND MY CREATIVE JUICES A REST FOR A WHILE.


    THE FINAL CHAPTER HAS US LEAVING ITALY FOR THE GROSSGLOCKNER IN AUSTRIA AND FINALLY BACK INTO SWITZERLAND

     

     


  • 15 days, 4 countries- Part 3

    PART 3

    Saturday- Decamping again we had a day of 5 major passes before arriving at our overnight close to the Stelvio pass.

    First across the Oberalp towards Disentis Muster then over the Locmanier and a motorway stretch to the San Bernardino where we stopped at a motorway services and later to don wet gear again.

    Crossing the San Bernardino

    Our intrepid leader pretends to check the map but in reality is allowing his fried brake fluid some much needed cooling time!

     

    Lunch stop

    We crossed the Julier and Bernina before crossing the border and over into Italy

    Tonights hotel and view of vineyards in the valleys

    Sunday- Today was supposed to be a great early run up and over the Stelvio but turned into a nightmare. Somehow we managed to find oursleves in the middle of a hundreds of runners, riders, walkers, skaters in what was clearly an annual race to the summit of the Stelvio. The police at the bottom of the ascent hadn’t stopped us passing through so we had little option other than to carry on as we couldn’t turn back, and to stop would have seen us there for hours!

    Eddie checking out the waterfall

    More low cloud!!

    Miles into the ascent and still race contestants on the climb

    Border guards who we REALLY hopoe won’t ask for documentation for the Pan European which stands out like a sore thumb with its Alaskan number plates

    Finally made it to the top

    Whilst some of the group bought their souvenir t-shirts Mike and I sat patiently, getting colder and colder as the clouds blew in and out on a bitterly cold wind but creating hugely atmospheric photos

    Arty pics with bikers highlighted against the mountains and clouds

    Perhaps my favourite photo of the whole tour

    With the group reformed I sent Eddie and Mike off in front with Mike filming Edddie whilst I filmed the pair of them. Plummeting down the 48 hairpins it soon became clear that my heavyweight GT was no match for the lightweight ST800 and GS1200, and the pair had passed a car I was unable to get past, a gap soon appeared and they disappeared into the distance and into low level clouds, only to reappear when stuck behind a slower moving group further down the pass.

    Playtime over we stopped at the bottom for a warming drink before setting off towards Merano.

    Wind blown trees on route to Merano

    The image of sprinkers in the vineyards really captured my imagination. I didn’t stop to take a picture but managed to take this screen shot from one of Nicks films

    Spectacular building

    Hugely popular with bikers, check out the rows and rows of bikes here

    Once off the busy main road to Merano we looked for somewhere to eat and finally found a pub open. We were surprised to find German spoken here in Italy and even more surprised when an Australian lady came forward and offered to help with translating the menus, and Nick & Terese thought they were the only Aussies round here!

    Lunch over the Jaufenpass was next. It started well enough but again low cloud came to be our nemesis and one minute you could see where you were, the next developed in a pea souper

    Here Mike appears out of the cloud

    At the foot of the pass I gave a ride round option for anyone who didn’t fancy riding the next pass, the Penser Joch. Nick & Therese opted to take the motorway option while the rest of us rode the pass.

    Clearly visible sign for once!

    Riders visible, but only whilst this photo was taken, seconds later they were enveloped in cloud again

     

    This view appeared and disappeared many times as a cold wind blew low level cloud across the landscape

    Great old castle en route

    Over the Passo Costalunga and to the hotel where we were rewarded with great views and an excellent evening meal.