• Tag Archives Mountain passes tour
  • 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!


  • “La Tremola” (San Gotthard )

    “La Tremola” below, is the original San Gotthard pass .  Unique in being paved from top to bottom it not only looks spectacular, but is also  special to ride.

     

    This film shows a descent of the 2108m “Tremola”  down towards Airolo during July’s  Mountain Passes tour. Check the altitude and scenery at the circa 2.40 minute mark. The pass you can see above is the “new” San Gotthard. The paving creates a bumpy ride and causes the apparent jerky movement of the film, the camera lens and picture looks slightly misty due to previous rain. The film shows the big gradient drops and tightness of the hairpin bends.

     

     

     


  • 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

     


  • 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.


  • 15 days, 4 countries- Part 2

    PART 2

    Wednesday- The day started dull and it was clear that rain, or at least low cloud was hanging over the Col d’Izoard which was to be the first pass of the day. We filled up at the petrol station of a local supermarket and hunted in vain for some tie downs to secure the topbox lid on Nicks GT which now refused to lock. Eddie came to the rescue with a cargo net, and so with wet gear donned again we set off to climb the Izoard.

    Here is the only picture taken today as the weather was less than kind all day

    After the Izoard we passed into Italy and the passes of Montgenevre and Mt Cenis. Normally the Mt Cenis is a great stop off point with its great lake and dam, but today we passed straight on over and through, little realising that once we had descended the other side down into Lanslebourg that we we would be stuck in a bus shelter for an hour seeking refuge from the monsoon rains that had descended to halt our journey. With real fears that there would be snow atop the Iseran which stood between us and our hotel for the evening, we eventually had little option other than to carry on, and sure enough there was snow on the Iseran, in fact the road at the top was covered in settling snow and we struggled to keep a view of the road ahead through snow covered visors.

    I bill my tours as “adventure motorcycle holidays”, and for sure this was proving an adventure for those to whom snow was almost an unknown quantity, but we all survived, and the hotel was a welcome refuge after a day full of every type of inclement weather you could imagine!

    Thursday- Low cloud was the first thing we saw when we awoke the next morning, but knowing that it should soon burn off and that there would be sun at higher altitude, I tried to motivate the troops as they worried about what looked to be another gruelling weather day ahead.

    Although we had some low cloud we were able to enjoy the ride up to the Petit St Bernard and the now obligatory pictures I take with all my tour riders alongside this giant St Bernard dog.

    After a great ascent of the Grand St Bernard from Aosta we stopped for a warming cup of hot chocolate at the summit.

    Views en route to the summit of the Grand St Bernard

    At Martigny, Terry, armed with an old GPS of mine, departed the group to return to Geneva to collect his repaired Pan European whilst the rest of us continued on to Gletsch and the Furka pass and these views

    Up until now we had been been enjoying some great sunshine but all was to change, as after taking the pictures above, we encountered such low cloud we couldn’t see more than 20 meters ahead! Taking the smart option, we fell in behind a car and allowed it to lead us safely down the pass towards Andermatt.

    Here are the tour totals so far, 2110kms and 33hours 45 of saddle time.

    FRIDAY- Low cloud hung over the mountains as we sat at breakfast but I knew they would lift.

    Post carriage driven down main street in Andermat

    Today was another day where we could leave the bags at the hotel and ride without luggage. This would be great for Nick, as with the heavy GT, wife and luggage, his riding had naturally been a little tempered. In an overwhelming gesture towards my fellow man, I offered to take Terese as pillion with me for a while, to allow him to make the most of the days Alpine passes. It takes some confidence to leap aboard someone elses bike as pillion, and also for a husband to allow his wife to be transported into the mountains behind another rider, but I guess both had seen enough of my riding over the past few days to have sufficient trust in my abilities, and so we set off into the mountains and into weather which as predicted, was now starting to clear.

    First stop the view into Airolo. I always take people here as it’s spectacular, then I follow it up with a ride down the paved Tremola which is really unique as it has a paved surface.

    Nick at the Tremola

    Next over the Neufenen and back to Gletsch before riding over the Grimsel down to Innerkirchen and lunch.

    Cloud on the Neufenen

    Top of the Grimsel

    Next the Susten, which is a real favourite of mine and one which this group loved too.

    Here a view of water cascading over one of the Sustens many tunnels taken by Terese riding pillion

    More tunnels

    Snow and glaciers

    Perfectly radiused bends

    Views everywhere

    Looking down the valley from the Susten pass towards Wassen

    The return trip back up to Andermatt took us through several tunnels and the start of traffic queues

    Here Dave found the ground had dropped steeply away beneath him and couldn’t get his leg down in time to prevent a topple over. Thankfully he was uninjured and we continued on to the hotel where we found Terry waiting for us.

    Bike woes were not over though, with the next task being to check Nicks GT driveshaft which was leaking oil, sound familiar? Not wanting to miss the tour and with no BMW dealer closer than 200kms away, we effected a repair by adding some engine oil to at least cool the bearing and resolved to check the oil seepage regularly over the next few days.

    After a quick running repair Mike wanted to ride the Furka again and see what we had missed in the cloud the previous day, so along with Terry, the 3 of us set off for a quick ride up to the top of the Furka and the chance to see the marmots at the top.

    Whilst we were away riding the others took a chance to stroll round Andermatt and view some of it’s great character wooden buildings

    THIS IS A GOOD POINT TO MAKE A BREAK, WITH THE NEXT CHAPTER BEING OUR RIDE INTO ITALY, AN UNFORGETTABLE ASCENT OF THE STELVIO, AND INTO THE STUNNING DOLOMITES


  • 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