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Downs and Ups in the Alps

Posted by TravellingStrom on June 15, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

Well, the day started like shit and ended up being great. I was intending to start moving around 7.30am as I had a long day ahead and we even had an early breakfast just for me. Thank you to Hildagard, Sepp and Simon for hosting me, it was the perfect place to get things done and relax me for the trip ahead.

So, yesterday Simon had an issue at work and I agreed to help by delivering a box of LED lights to Geneva for him. This is where the days horribleness started, not because of the lights but a combination. I needed to strap them onto my bags and while doing so the bike fell over because it is very unstable, bugger, and it was real heavy!!! The issue starts with me lowering the bike, this makes the side stand, in effect, longer which holds the bike up more vertical which makes it a tad more unstable. But, at the Vstrom meeting I picked up the large side stand foot that I had bought and someone had kindly delivered. This I had bolted on and it added an extra 10 or 15mm to the foot height which made the bike even more unstable, this photo will give you an idea:

So, anyway, I could not find anyone to help and just used brute effort and managed to get it upright again and then had to repair the damage!!! The unbreakable Buell indicator lens now have a breaking point, so that was repaired with gaffa tape. My helmet came off the mirror and the front vent cover broke off, more gaffa tape. I eventually got the bike back to stage one, moved it to a better location and repacked it!

By this time I knew that I had cooked my SPOT device with my power mods and it was now US, bummer, I would have to try and find a replacement from somewhere sometime soon. As I was now an hour late I needed to high tail it to Geneva but I was held up by slow roads and traffic through all these little villages, but I did eventually find the motorway once I changed my GPS directions from “minimise distance” to “minimise time”. It was not a major issue, but I decided I could not afford the time for any geocaching on the way as I needed to get that visa before they close at midday and had to deliver the lights as well. After flogging the speed limit to Geneva I did get there in plenty of time for the light delivery, “they will be there before midday was the call from Simon”, well they were, in fact just after 11am and that meant I had an hour spare for the visa pickup. 🙂

So, I did find the embassy and some illegal parking and picked up the passport with visa very quickly, great stuff, 3 down, 1 to go 🙂

This is where the day added some more drama, my GPS started to fail again, freezing up and giving me a white screen of death. I had to reset this many times over the next few hours as I tried to enjoy the scenic route through the France side of the lake near Geneva on my way back east to the Italian border. I had done 260km from Lucerne to Geneva, I now had 650km to go to get to Stelvio Pass, with a number of mountain passes to cross and all these issues were making this hard work. I was getting used to my new riding gear as well and as it warmed up, learning where the vents were and the fold back panels and after an hour or so I ended up riding out of the scenic slow parts and hit the highway for some fast running along the valley floor. This was a very rural area with the whole valley devoted to crops of all sorts, even up the valley slopes.

I came to one of the many villages and for some reason they had camels in the roundabout, I have no idea what camels and Alps have in common, except maybe the shape of their backs? Then after that I passed through a Bitsch of a town, a little bit(sch) of humour there to lighten the day

Now that I started to enter the foothills of the Alps again there were many small villages to ride through at very slow pace, here is an example

There were roadworks and other stuff to slow me down also, even mad cows, swiss style 🙂 Now, I have it on good authority, these are heavily involved in the supply chain of Swiss Cheese and Swiss Chocolate, but the jury is still out on the Swatch watch at this time 😉

There were many of these villages and cows up in these parts, but the country seemed ideal for them, I am still unsure about the reason for the rocks under some of the old buildings though? If they were in Oz, I would think of them as ant caps to stop termites, but I am not sure the ground up here would allow them insects to live, so I will leave the answer to any of the readers out there to comment on 🙂

But, the reason I came here was the roads and I very soon started to climb the slopes and get amongst the scenery and snow and in fact for the day clocked up a few passes, so here are a few views and a bit of vision to wet the appetite, this is all a build up to Stelvio Pass for me, but these were fantastic in themselves, I gotta say thanks a million for the route Simon 🙂

I must say some of those corners were very technical and it is a learning curve to get around smoothly without pooping over the centre line, especially laden down as I was, this would be a totally different ride without the baggage, but by crikey it was fun 🙂

So, the day had started as crap and in the past hour had changed for the better 🙂 This is what I was here for and for the next 4 hours I played through these mountains up and down and around and around, yeehaaaa This is what I was confronted with and loving it.

There were more villages and valleys in between, but they were only there so I could get from one pass to another 😉

As you can see the sun was dropping a bit and I was riding in shadow a fair bit on the way up to St Moritz, the very expensive resort for the rich and wealthy where I planned NOT to stay 🙂

After that I felt the efforts of the day gaining on me, it was now after 7pm and I still had 200+km to go, but made a mental decision to stop riding at 9pm or thereabouts. I did not want to ride Stelvio near dark and Simon had mentioned a small community in Italy called Livigno. As it turns out, in the next hour I rode one more pass called Bernina which seemed to be near the Italian border area and was soon in the valley of Livigno and as it was 8.30pm decided to ask at the next available hotel, bed and breakfast whatever for a place to stay. As it turned out the hotel I chose was quite nice and cheap, and had internet, so that was all good and I relaxed downstairs with a beer or two and read a book for a while 🙂 Current book, Book 5 of the Death Gate Series by Margaret Weis

I did make a small tactical error tonight, I had been downstairs and doing Facebook updates, reading the forums with Tapatalk etc on the iPhone and was kicked upstairs when the bar closed. This was when I found out that the username/password they gave me is only good for one gadget so I could not log on using the laptop, which meant no late night blog post, so I crashed out, ready for another big day tomorrow. The original plan was to ride to my cousin Bob’s place in Duisburg, then go see Ingo in Bedburg on Sunday afternoon. But, Bob had sent a message saying he starts a week holiday Monday and drop in any time 🙂 So I quickly fired off a couple of emails and messages to swap things around, I would go see Ingo tomorrow and all Sunday, then head to Bobs on Monday, a better deal all round

Cheers from Livigno, Italy

6 Responses to “Downs and Ups in the Alps”

  1. biwozBIWOZ said

    Oh, mate, that video of you riding the pass was so good .. reminded me so much of my wife and I riding Beartooth Pass in the US … same sort of corners, same sort of mountains, same sort of snow 😀 … and we were two-up on a BMW R1150RT with topbox, panniers and tankbag packed to bursting. Hard work … yes … but oh, what great memories. Thanks, Rich.

    • Hey no worries, grab a beer and sit back, I am about to post stage two, Stelvio Pass, better grab two beers, the connection is a tad slow 😉 Maybe another hour or so

  2. biwoz said

    Oh, poop … can you delete one of ’em?? 😀

  3. Donunder said

    Rich.. the camels. Didn’t Hannibal use camels when he was crossing the Alps in about 200BC? I think it rings a bell from my school days way back in the dim distant past. Gotta say your new riding gear looks a lot more Euro friendly than the old blue number. Warm and dry sounds the go. Can’t believe some of that Alps scenery!!!! Origin one all. Decider July 4. Cheers.

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