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Thread: Touring Europe

  1. #1
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    Smile Touring Europe

    I am fortunate to have a free ride for my '78 r80/7 to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in the Mediterranean. I plan on taking a month or so to roll around Europe, mostly France, Germany, maybe Denmark and Holland. Any ideas on resources, such as cheap sleep, routes, events, legality of a U.S. regisetered bike in Europe, Insurance, gear to carry, do I drag the girl along? Any help would be great. Planning on May/June timeframe. Thanks!
    JP

  2. #2
    Loose Cannon flash412's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpderoy
    I am fortunate to have a free ride for my '78 r80/7 to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in the Mediterranean. I plan on taking a month or so to roll around Europe, mostly France, Germany, maybe Denmark and Holland. Any ideas on resources, such as cheap sleep, routes, events, legality of a U.S. regisetered bike in Europe, Insurance, gear to carry, do I drag the girl along? Any help would be great. Planning on May/June timeframe. Thanks!
    JP
    You'd be better off going to Italy instead of Denmark and Holland which are both very flat. In German-speaking areas, in the early afternoon, look for a sign that says "Zimmerfrie." This is a room in someone's home, like a bed and breakfast. It is always acceptable to ask to see the room before you agree to stay there. Breakfast will be included. Generally, you will not find cheaper or better accommodations when traveling. In France and Italy, look for signs that say "Pensionne" for the same sort of thing. They are common in Italy but not so much so in France.

    You will need "green card insurance" to get a bike through customs into Europe. It's been too many decades since I got that for me to make a good suggestion. I believe that the AAA can help you, or perhaps suggest where to get it. You can get an international drivers license for $10 and two passport photos from AAA. Not required but a good idea. Once you're in Europe, there are no controlled border crossings (any more than we have controlled crossings between states in the USA).

    If you have an ATM card, look for ATMs that have the PLUS or CIRRUS logo to withdraw cash. THAT will get you the absolute best exchange rate when you need cash.

    Contact me directly for a great insurance tip.

    What to carry? For SURE an electric vest and rain gear.

    If your question really is "Do I drag the girl along?" Then, HELL NO. If you "make" her go, she will ensure that you (both) have a miserable time on what may well could have been the best month of your entire life.

    But if she truly wants to go, it will be a honeymoon that a few months after it is over, you will both remember as an impossibly vivid dream. (It doesn't matter if you are or are planning marriage.)

    Remember this, though, two people traveling on a motorcycle costs three times as much as one traveling alone. The reason is that luggage space that could have gone to more gear for you will be lost to essentials for her. And you will probably not be able to camp (or camp as often). You will have to stop more frequently and for longer. Your ability to change your mind and your direction on a whim will be gone.

    As far as routes go... that depends on where you're going. Though one of the best tips I ever got was from an Italian who told me, "To the north of Lake Como is a small town called Idro. Go there. There is nothing there to see, but go there." When I asked him to suggest a route he said, "It does not matter. It is impossible to get to Idro without riding some excellent roads." He also suggested Molveno, not too far away.

    The Dolomites in Italy contain what in my opinion are the best motorcycle roads on this planet. To the east of Bolzano/Bozen, to the south of Bressanone/Brizen is a loop around the Sella group. The loop goes over the following passes: Pordoi, Campolongo, Gardina and Sella. Check into a pensionne in Canazei and drop your stuff off. Do a loop before dinner, maybe two or three, depending on what time you arrive. Do another in the morning before you pack up to leave. It will most certainly be one of the days of which you will have vivid memories until the day you leave this earth.

    May can be too early for many mountain passes. June has less risk. The end of June has more traffic. Tough call on the timing. Weather is always a gamble in the mountains.

    In France, if you go from Albertville to Grenoble via any roads that traverse the Chartreuse (instead of taking the autoroute), you will again be in biker heaven. From Grenoble, if you head straight west and traverse the Massif de Vercours, it will be the same.

    Here is some GPS stuff from the Alps. I logged a whole lot of passes. There is also an overlay of passes on a scan of a map. There is a text file that Ithink should pull into any GPS.
    http://www.deathstar.org/~flash/emo99/emo99.html

    Here is a taste of these roads, in the form of a GPS track, versus the route. This one is from the Gare (train station) in Grenoble, west to Lans en Vercours. Though the REAL treats in the Vercours are stretch from Lans en Vercours toward Borg de Oisans and the Col de la Machine. IF you go to the link above and then follow to the slide show motorcycling in the French Alps, most of those photos were shot in the Vercours and the Chartreuse. I lived in Grenoble, le Capital des Alpes, for a couple of years. The two waypoints that are stepping on each other in the upper right corner say GARE and HOME. I lived about a half a km from the Gare.

  3. #3
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpderoy
    I plan on taking a month or so to roll around Europe, mostly France, Germany, maybe Denmark and Holland.
    It looks like you'll be missing the area most people go to ride; the Alps. But it is your trip.

    Quote Originally Posted by jpderoy
    Any ideas on resources, such as cheap sleep, routes, events, legality of a U.S. regisetered bike in Europe, Insurance, gear to carry, do I drag the girl along? Any help would be great. Planning on May/June timeframe. Thanks!
    JP
    Accomodations: Over the years I have spent between Ôé¼17 to Ôé¼54 per night including a sizable breakfast. The norm is about Ôé¼25 to Ôé¼30. I've stayed in B&Bs (look for the red-white-red banners in Austria with "Zimmer Frei") and hotels. In Italy, you'll see signs similar to road signs in yellow with an icon of a bed or multiple beds.

    Print out this Tourenfahrer Accomodations List and take it along. You really don't need to book ahead during the months you plan to go. I've always found accomodations at the end of my riding day. Tip: plan to look for a place to stay before 17:00.

    Routes: We could be talking about this for hours. Best thing is to get some maps of the areas you plan to be in well in advance. Go to the Books & Maps section on my web site for some ideas. Get maps with a scale of 200 000 or 250 000:1 or better. 300 000:1 and up and you miss out on too much detail. I really prefer the Freytag & Berndt maps...Michelin as well.

    Download the ADAC Motorradtouren Maps (motorcycle touring maps). The ADAC is Germany's auto club like the AAA, etc. I recommend you view more ADAC map details on my ADV Rider Thread. Note that it also lists accomodations.

    Next, just track down some web sites and see where others have toured. Follow along on the maps you bought.

    Insurance: You can get Green Card liability insurance from the ADAC for Ôé¼22 per month for a maximum of 6 months. You'll need it to clear your bike through customs so you might want to get it in advance by mail from Stefan Knopf of Knopf Motorradreisen.

    Gear: Depends where you plan to be and when. May will be fine in Spain, but cool in the Alps...some passes may even be closed. I'm there between the end of May and the beginning of July and use an Aerostich suit with only a 200 weight fleece jacket over my regular clothes. Bring a good rain suit, rain gloves and rain boots. The latter two you can get at shops like Hein Gericke, Louis and Polo all over Germany and some neighboring countries.

    These Alps touring web sites should get you started:
    http://www.alpenmotorrad.com
    http://www.alpineroads.com
    http://www.motorrad-pals.de
    http://www.alpenbiker.de
    http://www.chez.com/colsuisse
    http://home.nikocity.de/motoalps/MotoAlps.HTM


    I've been doing this a while, so if you have any more questions, fire away.

  4. #4
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    What Flash said.

    In addition, the discussions (both logistics and routes) in John Hermann's "Motorcycle Riding in the Alps and Corsica" (the current edition is the 3d) excellent: commonsensical, playful, and accurate. His book is a wonderful resource. Read Court Fisher's page on the BMWMOA site at http://bmwmoa.org/global/ToEurope.htm. Darryl Richman has a useful discussion too: http://darryl.crafty-fox.com/motorcy...roperiding.htm.

    We rented from Knopf in 1996. In 2002, I shipped my own RS to Europe via Motorycle Express, and spent a month riding in the Alps along with a second month lazing about in the Rhone valley and Provence. Most of my planning (both route and logistics) was based on Hermann's book. For routes, I read Hermann's route descriptions, listed the ones that sounded interesting to me, located each of them on a (big-scale!) map, and then connected them in an interesting way. It was an awesome trip.

    My experience was that AAA didn't offer Green Card insurance, but I was able to secure it (even including theft and comprehensive coverage) from USAA. ADAC (the German auto club) offers liability-only coverage. I'm not a GPS guy, and I had a lot of fun with maps: Michelin and Kummerly+Frey are the big names.
    Last edited by dbrick; 12-26-2005 at 06:55 PM.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  5. #5
    Eternal newbie THREEFLYS's Avatar
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    Haveing never been there but wanting to go, the only thing I can add is maybe look for Hostels for lodging. From what I understand, you might be in a squadbay type of room (multiple beds) but it is very cheap. Just a thought and I think some might have private rooms for slightly higher if your girl is going along. I really need to get over and visit my brother in Stuttgart!
    Chris

  6. #6
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Statdawg View Post
    Bump for new members.
    Wow, an oldie. I can't even remember posting to it.

    I might as well add the following link for those who can't quite swing the high price of an organized motorcycle tour, or those who would rather just go self guided in the first place.

    Alps Motorcycle Tours - Priced Right

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