• Tag Archives Dolomites
  • 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 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, 56+ passes, 4000+kms

    My latest tour was months in the planning, starting as far back as September 2010 with interest from a Canadian, and growing over the interim months with others from Australia and the US. The common theme was that each had an extended period of time available, so after much discussion, many Skype calls and email correspondence, I created a 15 day tour which would see us ride the Jura region of France, the French and Swiss Alps, the Dolomites in Italy, enter into Austria to ride the Grossglockner Pass, and cover in excess of 4000kms and 56+ major mountain passes.

    Meticulous planning, hours poring over maps, pre-riding of routes, hotel reservations, creation of ride itineries, and co-ordination of meeting points for the group count for nothing though when you’re thrown a curved ball, the first one being on Friday morning when one of the Canadians mistakenly put diesel into his loaned Pan European, thereby creating a chain of events that involved him being stranded at the roadside for 9 hours in blazing hot sun, whilst I had to make 6 hours of round trips to and from his breakdown point to collect his stricken bike with a trailer, and then deliver it to the dealer the next day, and rescue his trip by assisting in hiring a replacement bike at a discounted rate, thanks Honda Geneve!

    Draining 24 litres of diesel which literally ate away at the tarmac as it dropped onto the roadside!

    Curve ball number 2 was early on Saturday morning when Eddie, our American rider, called and explained he had oil on his rear wheel. After a quick call to the local BMW dealer we were able to get the bike checked over and a faulty captor seal was replaced in ultra quick time. So now with a replacement Honda (Deauville) and a repaired BMW GS1200, the 3 of us set off to meet with the rest of the group who had been at the hotel since Friday night waiting for my arrival!

    The tour should officially have started with riding on the Saturday, but as we had already lost half a day all I could do was extend my apologies and suggest we eat at the hotel and ride that afternoon, thus giving me a chance to get things back on track, give the tour briefing, and hopefully have a stress free remainder of the day.

    The afternoon ride only started at 15.00 and it was 21.00 when we finally made it back to the hotel, but in line with how we had started, it didn’t pass without incident, when another of our Canadians effected a U turn too quickly and ended up with his bike on top of him! This was clearly a selfless act of heroism designed to save any repair costs, but it worked, the bike was unscathed, and the only damage was a little loss of pride and a scuffed riding jacket.

    So with an eventful start to the tour we settled down for our evening meal and several beers soon cheered everyone up!

    Sunday- I had returned home early to collect my wife Sue for today’s tour, but this morning the weather had turned from yesterdays glorious sunshine, and wet gear was the order of the day. After a cross country ride to Bonneville I offered the choice of a ride around option for anyone who didn’t fancy the potentially tricky ride over the Col de la Colombiere. Two opted to take it and we agreed to meet at St Jean de Sixt. Those who rode with me found the Col to actually be bone dry and we had a great ride over. We stopped for lunch in St Jean de Sixt where we were entertained by music and dancing in the town centre.

    Next, up and over the Col d’Aravis

    Then down into Notre Dame de Bellecombe where this massive cycle was celebrating the Tour de France

    We crossed the Col d’Aravis and had an afternoon coffee stop at the Cormet de Roselend

    Riders L to R- Eddie (USA), Mike and Dave (son and father Canada), Terese & Nick (Australia), Terry (Canada), “AlpineBiker”

    Next a great run down into Bourg St Maurice and over the Col de Forclaz to Annecy, before returning to the hotel for a daily total of 355kms riding

    Evening meal was meat cooked on skewers over a charcoal burner. In Switzerland this is called charbonade, great!

    Monday and we decamp from the hotel for the South of France leaving these great views behind

    A big thank you to our great hosts at the Auberge de Catray, Carine and Michael

    Our destination today is the Gorges du Verdon. It’s a biggish distance at 537kms but 150 is on the autoroute.

    En route to Gap

    Here is the always stunning Lac de Serre Poncon

    Photo stop

    DAVE- BMW GS800

    EDDIE- BMW GS1200

    MIKE- BMW ST800

    TERESE & NICK- BMW K1300GT

     

    TERRY- HONDA  PAN EUROPEAN/HONDA DEAUVILLE

    The day was hot and after a great ride down to La Batie on the Col du Labouret we wanted a drink but couldn’t find a restaurant open, so settled for dunking our heads in the spring water trough in the centre of town, you can’t believe how refreshing that was!

    We arrived in the gorges early evening and took these shots at Pont Sublime

    Evening meal on the balcony directly over the gorges was a real treat, as was breakfast the following morning watching the sun light up the gorges

    Sunset over the gorges

    Tuesday

    Breakfast on the balcony directly overlooking the gorges

    The sun gradually lighting up the valleys


     

    We had a quick run out in the direction of Aiguines for these views thinking we would have the roads to ourselves but 5 minutes later we were engulfed by a large group of Italian riders

    Next back round the gorges to this viewing point at the Balcons de Meussia

    Trying to stay cool in the shade

    The mediaeval town of Trigance

    Next, the Gorges du Daluis

     

     

     

    After a long lunch in Guillaumes we rode over the Col de la Couillole with this great view

     

    Next up to the summit of the Col de la Bonette, the highest pass in Europe. 3 weeks previously it had been blocked and we couldn’t ride beyond 2714metres

    Plenty of altitude gain today!

    Overnight is at one of my favourite hotels, the Bon Logis in Haut Gaudissard, Risoul.

    What a great view to start your day!

    So far we are only 4 days into the tour and have ridden 1553kms and spent 23hours 51 of saddle time.

    NEXT INSTALMENT FEATURING WET ASCENTS OF MAJOR PASSES THE IZOARD AND ISERAN