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Thread: Last Ride- Eastern Europe

  1. #1

    Last Ride- Eastern Europe

    I don't know how many times you know that it's the last time you'll ride a motorcycle that you really love. This is the story of my last ride on my 1998 R1100RT. I knew from the day I bought it that I'd never be able to bring it back to the US. Everything I've read and heard discouraged that frame of mind. I'd been out of motorcycling for 15 years and how I got back in to it began two years before my RT rolled off the production line.

    In March of 1996, I found myself in bed, with my wife Jill, and between us lay our first child, our newborn son Nick who recently co-starred, with the RT, in my post where he took his first tour, his choice, to Normandy. Chances are you may be reading this on June 6, if so, it is D-Day so if you want to take a moment to review what those places are like:

    So, I know a few of the people that I'm "cyber-acquaintences" with, are expecting children. When you do, you'll understand the following scene. My wife and I are in bed, between us is this precious new baby boy. Our capacity for love has just jumped 3 fold. She's laying there and softly coos, " What do you think you'd be doing right now if we'd never met".

    Without hesitation I replied, " Riding a big BMW road bike".

    "I'll buy you one someday" , she replied.

    Well that day came about 5 years later. My wife called me and told me to come up to her work, she had something to show me. What she had was a high tech engineer that was selling his R100RS. Absolutely beautiful, perfectly maintained, my dream bike.

    I couldn't believe it, this could be mine, it was a fair price, and a bike I would love to own. But a strange thing happens once you're a Dad, without spending too much time trying to pick a clever analogy, I'll just say, "you evolve". I told the engineer I"d like to think about it, but even then, I knew I couldn't have it. 18 months after our first son was born, we were blessed with another. I quit my corporate job and became a full time stay home Dad. Greatest job ever if you're cut out for it.

    Flash forward to 2004, a third child joined our family, a daughter. Things got crazier and crazier. I knew it was time to start doing something for myself. I"d put everything into supporting my kids and wife. One night I told her that I was ready to get the BMW, on my 50th birthday, 2006. In 2005 we moved to Switzerland for her work and after about 2 months I knew I HAD TO HAVE THAT BIKE!

    So, this report is about my last ride on that bike. I know some people read for the "goo" like the above paragraphs, some like the pictures, and others, want numbers and stats, prices, etc. Everything opposite of "goo". I will do my best to balance these three.

    My sig line is an Eisenhower quote" Plans are meaningless, planning is everything" This report will show you why. Originally, the title of this would have been, " Last Ride- Spain". It turns out that my last ride would be come, by the good grace of my wife who was going to double up and do her job, and my job, if " I got everything done to move home" This means a lot when you are moving internationally. There's 6 piles. Stuff going in the ocean container (6-8 week deliverry) stuff going in the air freight ( two weeks) stuff going on the airplane with you, stuff you are selling, stuff you are giving away, and stuff you are throwing away. For me, this wasn't so bad as I spent 25 years in the moving business and I had contracted quite a few international relocations so I had a good background on what I needed to do to get some riding time. It all turned out that I had a week window to ride and that window coincided with when the AZBeemers were going to be riding the Pyrenees. That was my goal, meet my first forum member at a hotel bar in the Pyrenees. Unfortunately, mother nature rained on that parade. The weather for that week, in Spain, looked horrible. The day I left, I took all my Spain maps out of the tank bag and put in my Alpine Countries map.

    When I pulled out of the drive way last Friday, my goal was to hit as many countries as I could. It was 10:45 am.

    I live in the eastern end of Switzerland, near Geneva in a small village called Grens, very close to the French border.

    Enter France at La Cure, 19.7 km, 11:03

    A nice ride along the north side of the Jura mountains and then it's back into CH

    Enter CH 31.8 km, 11:16


    Back into France at 63.2 km, 11:54

    Ok, believe me, it gets better. I'm sure anyone that reads this entire report, will remember it for a few years, it does get better.

  2. #2

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    This is the back side of Pontarlier, Fr. These fortresses are shown from the other side of the valley in my Utah Beach, The Bulge report. I'd been on this road, this direction, many times and had never looked up and seen this sight.

    A few miles later I pulled over at this beautiful stream.

    Walking 20 feet from the bike, through the bushes, was this incredible swimmin' hole.

    Europeans have a "love/hate" relationship with America, but mostly, they love us

    View with my back to the "Cowboys and Indiens" sign.

    Entering Germany at Basel 293 km, 15:14.

    Another thing I was going to try to do in my first 24 hours was ride 1500 km which is the metric number for a thousand miles. So, I was at 5 hours and rode about 200 miles. Didn't look like I am cut out for that stuff, at least here in Europe..

    My plan was to ride along the Swiss/German border and then head back into CH near Zurich and then to Lichtenstein. Well, I ended up re-entering CH and kept going. Near Lichtenstein, I saw a sign for Glarus. I knew a few forum members descend on New Glarus in the winter, so I decided to take a detour to record some pix for them.

    The Swiss are flag happy. Here you have the country flag, the canton flag ( the Friar Tuck dude) and the town flag ( the incredibly buffed mountain goat)

    They even have a Dennis Rodman flag

    This park was across from the train station

    There are very few pick up trucks in Europe.

    I'd be willing to bet it wouldn't take long to find someone in New Glarus that can explain that Wisconsin license plate.

  3. #3

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    I don't know when or where I entered Lichtenstein, but I guess it was around 501 km at 18:00. Here's some pix from there.

    Entered Austria 557km, 19:26

    How about this pad........" Ah, son, could you go down to the wine cellar and bring me up a 1988 LandRover"

    Finally called it quits on day one 680km 21:30. Stayed in Lander, Austria. Went to the hotel restaurant and pointed to something on the menu that had "schwein in it. Those are crinkly sweet onions and beneath them, in that gravy, is a pork steak. Kinda like the cut of a chicken fried steak, not cured like just about all pork products in the US. Any vegetable wrapped in bacon is OK with me!

    Last edited by franze; 07-02-2008 at 10:36 PM.

  4. #4
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Exit 31, PA TPK

    Continuez SVP.
    R75/5 R100RS K100RS R1150RT
    My Smugmug

  5. #5

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    Quote Originally Posted by terham View Post

    Continuez SVP.
    Oui, oui, monsieur, avec plaisir... hey, where's the emoticon smilie of the guy with a beret and a bagel

    So, the next day I was on my way around 9:15. I had charged my meal to my room and my bill was 31 euros. This had to have been a mistake but all I can say in German is " one large beer please" and the obligatory "please" and "thankyou" so off I went. My only plan was to ride dry roads, head east, and have fun. Everything from Switzerland west was rain, eastern Europe was supposed to be pleasant. Here's heading east.

    I was riding somewhat aimlessly. I went through Kitzbuhl, where my daughter learned to ski and I learned that their Hamnekammer ( or something like that) downhill run is so gnarly that the last time they opened it to the public after a world cup race three guys went to the hospital with major injuries. Lucky for me, the year I was there, the snow wasn't that good so I hung with my kids and enjoyed every minute. I was trying to get to Zell-em-See where my son had played a World Peewee hockey tournament in 2007 and has the historical significance, for Americans, as the place where the Band of Brother soldiers had their R and R post V-E day......but, somehow, I ended up on another road, went through a long tunnel, and then came out here.

    I met this Austrian dude on a GS and he told me the best riding in Europe was in the Dolomites, around Cortina d'Ampezzo. I had never been there, asked him if he'd been to some of my favorite spots, surprisingly, he had not. Never the less, I decided to take his advice and head to Cortino d"Ampezzo.

  6. #6

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    So, as I headed towards the Dolomites, the skies darkened.

    Entered Italy 984km, 13:49

    Heading into the Dolomites from Austria

    Sometimes you have to just stop to smell the beer.

    Those of you with "google-fu" powers should open up a google map of this area and check out all the passes. Yowser!!! I did a couple and then headed east. Remember, the title of this thread....

    How about this karma shot of a guy riding my model and color RT while I was sizing up the photo. My bike is parked, right on top of his helmet.

    If shots like this don't turn you on, don't bother reading the rest of this report.

    take me to your leader..............

    Last edited by franze; 06-05-2008 at 09:50 PM.

  7. #7
    I'll Be Back! beeminator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    La Jolla, California

    Been enjoying your latest ride post. I will be posting my own shortly. Just got back from a 6-day ride up and down California. I took along the BMWMOA magazine to show to my riding buds (they're not BMW guys, yet) and was telling them about your Switz/Holland/Belgium ride/post. One of the riding buds was telling me about a guy he knows in Switzerland that took a ride just like that. At one point we both realized that we were talkng about the same ride. Yes, my friend (and your firend) Doug McAllister was one of the guys on our ride up to Mt. Lassen/Lake Almanor. For now, all my photos are at home - I will post the ride & photos, likely tomorrow. -Don N.
    2002 - R1150R Atlanta Blue
    1982 - Porsche 928 - Gold

  8. #8

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    "Red wine is the blood of mountaineers". That is a quote I read in a book on Ski Touring in the Sierra Nevadas. I know the author's son and I am not one to doubt anyone that can ski as good as these folks. Transfusing an ounce.

    So, I finally wised up and put my camera on a lanyard around my neck. I did that on the last day of my first tour two years ago..........but then I rode about 20k km with fumbling around my tank bag, taking the camera out of it's case, taking the pic, putting it all back. Lanyards rock!

    I came out of the Dolomites highly impressed, and headed east. Italy flattens out here and I was just heading to blue skies, which for this week, is .........eastern Europe. Last picture of the day is a keeper. Sights from the flat lands.

    It was getting dark, I was getting tired. I tried to head down to the coast near Venice but it was incredibly crowded, it was, after all, Saturday night. I decided not to go along the coast, but on a secondary road which paralleled the coast road and the auto route. OK, for you type "A" guys. I kept meticulous records of every road I was on, so, if you want to know where a certain picture was taken, or what roads I took, towns I went through, etc. I have all that and am happy to share. Nothing makes me happier than when a forum member replies that something he saw in my post made him remember a time or place that he or she had been. Believe me, next year, I will salivating over every RR coming in from Europe. So, I rode along and town after town, no hotels. Finally I came to a town with a hotel. The parking lot was empty, I wasn't sure it was even open for business. The door was open and I went in. A man came from an adjoining room and I asked him if I could have a room for the night. He told me the hotel was booked so, off I went. Town after town, no room at the inn. Actually, more like, no Inn. There were abondoned houses along the way and each one became more likely a place to stay. Then I came to an orchard. A huge orchard with some type of tree that had a straight trunk, about as tall as a telephone pole, before the branches began. I don't have any idea what they were, but the leaves looked like olive branches, but that's not how olive trees grow. At least, not the ones I've seen. So, I do a fly by and decide it's the perfect place for commando camping. To get to the orchard, I had to ride through a large plot of freshly mowed tall " farm grass". This was a trip in itself. For those of you not familiar with the older RT's, I think mine weighs in at 660 pounds. Add 200 for me geared up, another 50 in the cases and on the trunk and you looking at nearly a half ton of fun riding through the field. No big deal except there was a lot of "maintenance" done on that part of the field, in other words, lots of trees had been taken out of there recently. So, the grass covered the tree "pot holes" and you never knew when the front end would dive down about a foot. Plus I was riding "lights out" so that my entrance gathered no attention. For those of you that have skiied a mogul field with two feet of fresh powder covering the run, you know the feeling. Finally, I made it into the trees, and the riding was a little easier. I rode down about 15 rows and then headed into the grove. No problem until I put down the sidestand and just about lost it, even though I was aware of the soft dirt. Once an RT gets a taste of gravity, it can't stop Finally got it settled, got off the bike, and looked around. You know, instead of seeing what worked, ( which is my dominant personality type) I was looking at what wasn't working. After about 10 minutes of checking out everything, I decided that I wouldn't get any real rest from road noise and if it started raining, which was completely possible, I'd probably never get out of there. So, I decided against staying there, and rode out with the same excitement of not knowing when, if, or how bad I would dump it. I thought about taking a picture but since I rode into the orchard, lights out, taking a flash photo seemed kinda stupid. Once I got onto the highway, I felt that my shifter, or side stand was out of whack. Knowing my limits as a mechanic, I decided to struggle with what it was and just keep going. Karma was with me and the very next town had a hotel, a room, and a great restaurant nearby. I stopped at 1359km, 21:30

    The next day was wash day. I had my clothes on the dryer

    and checked out the issue with my shifter/sidestand.

    Luckily, I was capable of the repair. Bend it back........oops too much, now bend it the other way....... yeah, that's it. OEM, again. Start time 8:22

    Entered Slovenia at 1413 km, 9:03

    The bottom icon on this sign got me pulled over on Monday.......

    There are better ways to enter Croatia than this customs gate that gets all the traffic via Trieste.

    One of the first views you'll see heading onto the Pula peninsula. Gorgeous!

    Here is the entrance to a toll booth at a tunnel. On the bottom left you can barely make out that they take Euros, US dollars, or Swiss francs. I had all three with me. I guess I felt pretty good right about then. Could have taken that tunnel a few times, just to spread it around.

    For all you sport bikers. The Pula peninsula in Croatia is IT. Perfect road texture, 4th, 5th, and 6th (if I had it) gear corners, NO RADAR!!!!!!!! Don't be bringin your sports bikin' ass up to Switzerland. You'll have more pictures of your bike than you'd ever want. AND, they will give you a ticket for going one mile over the limit. I drive like a grandpa, my wife does the opposite. We've invested over 2 grand in radar tickets in three years.

    So, I headed down to Pula, on the very southern tip of the peninsula. My map showed a campground icon there, and I wanted to check it out. When I got there, I was disappointed to find a security guard with road block. I went around it and it was all big time hotel complexes with hotelers going from tennis court, to pool, to beach, to lunch, etc.

    I rode around and then saw this dirt path from the end of a parking lot.

    I don't care what you say, this is how to treat your roving motorcycle tourer!

    Ok, more later............
    Last edited by franze; 06-05-2008 at 10:06 PM.

  9. #9

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    From the tip of the Pula peninsula, I took a secondary road north towards Rijeka, Croatia.

    At this pull out, I called home to check on how everything was going, it was Sunday, June 1, about two in the afternoon.

    I found out that my wife's work was getting crazy and it was getting to be too much to do both jobs. She asked if I would come home Wednesday, instead of Friday. At that moment, I realized that I was on my last couple days of the red RT, " the Pig". I think people that solo ride a lot, develop a bond with their moto. For me, these long rides to foreign soils, really developed that bond and I was pretty emotional when I got back on the saddle and continued north towards Rijeka.

    A great ride for the roads of Croatia!

    Finally, the heat got too me. I had been scoping out the beach towns, looking for the ideal place to take a dip. This is it, moto parking a few steps from the water.

    I had been moto-camping in Croatia with my middle son, three weeks earlier and that water was cold!! Today, it was perfect!

    Hey, what's Pops prancing around the beach in.......Euro skivvies???

    or trendy beach trunks...????????

  10. #10

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    At Rijeka, I took the autoroute east, and then after a few kilometers exited and rode some smaller roads towards the Slovenian border. I filled up with fuel and they wouldn't take euros. I had to use my credit card. This is taken from the Croatian frontier, looking to Slovenia. A picture is worth a thousand turns.

    None of the towns I was passing through were on my map. Finally I found one that was a border crossing. It was 13 km down a road that began like it was someones driveway. Here is part of that road. A tunnel that went under train tracks, no wider than a car.

    I saw some scary looking people which is the case in any rural area, no matter what country you're in. Couldn't help but think about " Deliverance".

    cue the banjo!

    I arrived at the border crossing, and these church bells were ringing.

    The Slovenian border was empty, and the motorcycle cops were happy to pose for a photo with a fellow R1100RT rider. I told them about the CHP using these same bikes and they enjoyed that.

    I asked them to give me at least a 5 minute head start and then come looking for me..........

    to be continued.
    Last edited by franze; 06-06-2008 at 06:36 AM.

  11. #11

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    OK, I'm going to call out some road numbers and towns for this next section as it was top rated touring, for me. I entered Slovenia from Croatia at Brod na Kupi which is north east of Rijeka. These next pictures are taken along hwy 106 which passes through Kocevje on a northern direction towards Ljubljana. km 1796 16:24

    Just north of Ljubljana I took hwy 210 west through Brode, Cerkno, and Tomlin

    So after riding this sweet little section, I'm off the bike taking pictures

    So I can remember exactly where it was, I took a picture of where I was parked.
    There was a small restaurant at the top and a guy left his table to come over to talk to me.

    This was a great moment in this trip. He spoke pretty good English and since I was way, way, off the beaten path, and from California, he was really interested in my trip. Then he told me he also had a BMW.

    It's a 1954 ???????

    He said he'd owned it for 27 years and rode it every day. When he was younger he told me he rigged up studs on the tires and rode it in the snow. Here's proof to take his claims seriously.

    He said that his family home, which is barely visible at the bottom of the corkscrew, was, during Mussolini's time, the last house on the Italian frontier. He owned the small restaurant at the top of the hill and told me that there is a new through alps hiking trail and it goes right through his property. He will let hikers camp for 5 euros. A National Geographic reporter had stayed there and I don't know it that's a story that's recently been published or is pending. Either way, I could have spent a day or two talking with this guy. Great, great memory!!! But it was getting late in the day and there were more roads to explore.

    these were baseball sized loose rocks mixed with golf ball sized gravel. Some rider on a Honda dual sport came up this road towards me at about 25mph. I was putting gingerly in 1st gear. I was impressed.

  12. #12

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    Oh, for this next shot I need to say that every photo in this report is uncropped, filtered, shopped, or without preservatives. This water was a color I'd never seen before.

    At Robaid I turned towards the Italian frontier. I drove by this church and then ended up turning around to try to get a closer look. Never did figure out how to get to it but it looked to me like they built the church inside the ruins of a Roman coliseum...but, I"m probably wrong.

    Slovenian sunset.

    Enter Italy 2015km, 20:46

    I found a room in Udine, Italy. Pretty nice hotel, Hotel President @ 65 euro/night, but I was pretty tired and didn't mind a nice room. Across the street was a pizzeria and I had a nice meal of Salame picante ( which was the cosest to pepperoni that I've had in Europe). My waiter was Albanian and was very interested in our election. And like every other European, was in love with Senator Obama. End of day 2049km, 21:30

    When I was checking out I got in a conversation with the desk clerk. He had spent 4 weeks in the southwest, and was very astute on US geography and history. He said his next trip would be to the Dakotas as his passion was the American west. I know that area pretty good and we hit it off pretty good. As I loaded up the Pig, he made me some maps of some local sites. First stop, per his recomendation, was the "impenetrable" city of Palmanova. He told me this mid-evil city was surrounded by a series of walls and moats. Under each moat were secret tunnels that the citizens would use, once wall and moat was breeched, to go under and then attack the invaders from the rear. There were only three entrances into the city. According to the clerk, the city was never conquered as it's defences were designed so that the walls extended far enough so that cannon fire couldn't reach the town. Napolean was unable to conquer the city, but he did lay to to siege for a few months, cutting off supplies until the town finally surrendered.

    Entering Palmanova through the Udine gate.

    I rode around the city for a bit and then found a dirt path, leading up to the ramparts.

    This is actually on top of the earthen ramparts of the closest wall to the city.

    You can see the distance of the defense works which extend to the line of trees. You can see part of a wall and some of the moats.

    this is just to the left of the previous view.

    Exiting the city through the north gate.

    Here's where I could've used a panaromic lens. These four shots are taken looking back to the town, and then out towards the front wall.

    next stop, a town built by Julius Caesar, Cividale.

  13. #13

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    For me, seeing the impact of the Roman Empire is one of the best parts about touring in Europe. The city of Cividale isn't all that far from Rome, and was built by Caesar. It is very cool to park your bike against a wall that Caesar himself may have leaned against.

    There was a festival in town and the streets were blocked off so I didn't go to the city center, instead, I headed back to Slovenia. These are from the hills on the Italian/Slovenian border. Entered Slovenia 2137 km, 11;57

    Things were going pretty good until a woman pulled out from a blind spot on a side street and came to a stop 20 feet from me in my lane, luckily I was paying attention and only needed ABS and 17 feet to stop

    I wanted to go back into the hills so I headed back towards Robarid ( not sure if that's spelled right, my map is ripped in that spot).

    I took hwy 203 north towards Bovec.

    Those of you that participate in the Photo Phorum may remember Bokeh as the term to describe the areas out of focus. This must be a party spot.

    But not as much as this place........

    Bovec looks like my kinda town.

    After Bovec, the road began a long climb towards the Italian/Austrian border.

  14. #14

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    Entered Italy 2248km 13:57

    Just after the border...........the ultimate clubhouse!!!!!

    The way down the other side of the mountain.

    Unlit tunnels like this are hell with sunglasses.

    Entered Austria 2288 14:41

    Joined a motorcycle gang. My gang name was " Dumbkopf "

    I ended up with the biker guys on a road that went through a bunch of towns. Stop and go. Finally, they pulled off at the Polka Place and I headed into the hills.

    I came close to taking this road, BUT, didn't like the skies. The RT is ok in the dirt, not ok in the mud. Oh, and there's no reverse gear and it needs about 15 feet to turn around. I might have taken this on day 1, but not day 4 on a 6 day tour. The sign next to the open arm gate said " Forest road" in German.

  15. #15

    Last Ride, Eastern Europe

    Thirty minutes after deciding not to take my Forest Road adventure.....

    The next series is all taken on Austria hwy 111 between Villach and Kartisch, going east to west.

    I entered a worm hole in the galaxy.............

    and came out at Washington's camp at Valley Forge in 1776!!!!!!!

    Entered Italy 2516km 19:49

    Despite the bad weather, I decided to head back to Cortina d'Ampezzo in hopes that I"d get a chance to ride the most talked up pass in Europe, Passo di Stelvio.

    I stopped for the night 2560 km 20:30

    I stayed at the Hotel Menardi. My bill for dinner and a room was 81 euros. The restaurant in the hotel was getting ready to close, I asked what they still had and they recomended the veal goulash. Sounded great for a cold/wet/tired rider. But what goes with that? Beer? Red Wine? Why risk it???

    Before I went to bed, I got a text message from my wife. My middle child was now running a fever of over 102. She was trying to get neighbors to help out as she had meetings she couldn't reschedule.

    to be continued.................

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