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Thread: The ONLY way to See the Alps...

  1. #46
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Just to add to the topic drift...

    I checked out the Beach page for the Alps tour and found a collection pictures from a trip (sooooooo needed culling!). Two crashes with one bike looking rather totaled and at least one...??? spinout to a drop (the tire marks are confusing). A) That's a scary bit of adventure and 2) I'm a little surprised that the pictures weren't ...um... reviewed for content. As too many politicians say: "Let me be perfectly about this matter" - the accidents aren't Beach's doing. The "totaled" accident(s) happened on a wet, more or less level and straight road. The other drop was on a dry, tight sweeper with a typical, well surfaced road. That's a scary threesome!

    Again, I see zero reflection on Beach. I assume three riders got in over their heads and had to pay the bill. I'd sure like to know the rest of the story.

    On my trip, I watched one ride almost kiss the side of two different curbs. +/-40 mph and about 1/2 a tire width from the curb. In general, this was a near clueless rider who, in the hairpins, was equally scary to watch. Makes one wonder how this rider has survived this long. "God watches over drunks and fools." -- Jimmy Buffett

    It's the sort of thing that makes me avoid group rides.

    Oh, and of course I rode perfectly.
    Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.

  2. #47
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBEmerson View Post
    ....It's the sort of thing that makes me avoid group rides...
    Well, I've seen the comment more than once, here and on other boards, about riders who will not ride with strangers, or with riders who they haven't ridden with before.

    Add to that the complex European driving environment.
    Last edited by Rinty; 12-18-2016 at 06:13 PM.
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  3. #48
    I think operating a tour company would be a very scary thing to do. Back when Bob Beach started the company with /2 or /5 bikes maybe not so much. But today, scary. Too many riders overestimate their real skill level under duress. Too many riders will have a need to be the hot dog. Too many riders may need to keep up. It seems to me that picking up the pieces and hauling folks to the medics, or waving bye to the ambulance would just ruin any fun at all. To me it is no wonder tours are expensive. The insurance cost must be pretty high.
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  4. #49
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rinty View Post
    Well, I've seen the comment more than once, here and on other boards, about riders who will not ride with strangers, or with riders who they haven't ridden with before.

    Add to the that the complex European driving environment.
    Riding with someone else, excesses of testosterone aside, is something of challenge: maintaining a common pace can be wearing or frustrating. It's the usual business of living with people. But on a bike, things get a little more intense. Slow down for rain, speed up for dirt, lane split (or don't). I ride with a friend on occasion. I usually have to dial back a little (and I don't count myself as Ricky Racer by any means) and then he dials it up. One thing that helps a lot is our Sena intercoms. In addition to the obvious "you're leaving me behind", there's the benefit of "gravel ahead". And, of course, companionable chatter.

    European driving is different, which makes it seem more complex. Mostly it's a matter of learning the major rules: speed limits in towns matter (lots of radar cameras, even seen them in Italy). Right of way matters and here things are actually less complex. Pedestrians in zebras are no different than the States. (Trivia: A bicyclist walking in a zebra has ROW, but not when they're riding in the zebra. Hitting them is still out, of course) Otherwise vehicles coming from the right have the right of way except if there is a yellow diamond next to the intersection or entering a major road from a minor road. (Not so trivial: 1) No right-turn-on-red ever. 2) There are no 4-way stops - "right has the right") Figuring out other signs can add some interest to the experience, but using common sense works most of the time.

    The hard part is figuring out the subtle courtesies and the not so subtle surprises (e.g., tailgating is annoyingly common). Flashing lights to pass is now considered at least pushy if not rude. Living in the left lane will sooner or later get you a tailgater. Passing on the right is illegal and enforced. Accident while passing on the right? Gooooood luck, sport. The good news is passing on the left is easier.
    Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.

  5. #50
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    I think operating a tour company would be a very scary thing to do. Back when Bob Beach started the company with /2 or /5 bikes maybe not so much. But today, scary. Too many riders overestimate their real skill level under duress. Too many riders will have a need to be the hot dog. Too many riders may need to keep up. It seems to me that picking up the pieces and hauling folks to the medics, or waving bye to the ambulance would just ruin any fun at all. To me it is no wonder tours are expensive. The insurance cost must be pretty high.
    Ah, well, you very much hit something that really took some of the sunshine out of my trip. The clueless riders aside, testosterone levels rose to prodigious heights. Regardless of gender. There were fair number of Ducatis in the group, for example. There were riders who were riding legends in their own minds. Being behind that, I was not best pleased at the notion of having to stop to call 112 and ask for a handful of body bags.

    A week of 100% insurance didn't come cheap. But I didn't fret about taking a big hit, either.

    I used to have a .sig reading "Lets take away all the warning and caution signs, and let evolution do the rest." Cheaper to insure the smart than the stupid. Heh, heh, heh...
    Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.

  6. #51
    Cowboyatheart
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBEmerson View Post

    European driving is different, which makes it seem more complex. Mostly it's a matter of learning the major rules: speed limits in towns matter (lots of radar cameras, even seen them in Italy). Right of way matters and here things are actually less complex. Pedestrians in zebras are no different than the States. (Trivia: A bicyclist walking in a zebra has ROW, but not when they're riding in the zebra. Hitting them is still out, of course) Otherwise vehicles coming from the right have the right of way except if there is a yellow diamond next to the intersection or entering a major road from a minor road. (Not so trivial: 1) No right-turn-on-red ever. 2) There are no 4-way stops - "right has the right") Figuring out other signs can add some interest to the experience, but using common sense works most of the time.

    The hard part is figuring out the subtle courtesies and the not so subtle surprises (e.g., tailgating is annoyingly common). Flashing lights to pass is now considered at least pushy if not rude. Living in the left lane will sooner or later get you a tailgater. Passing on the right is illegal and enforced. Accident while passing on the right? Gooooood luck, sport. The good news is passing on the left is easier.
    Rob, of Beach's will go over all this in a talk, and each country has different rules. the book Beach's sends out prior to your tour has a lot of information, including road signs and ROW etc.

    I love driving in Europe, it just makes sense, and no road rage! People are just "good" to motorcyclists, end stop!
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  7. #52
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    ADAC (sort of like AAA in the States), has a pamphlet with all of the possible traffic and road signs. IIRC, there are roughly 1500 possible signs. Germany is the only country, on the German-speaking tour, with areas of no speed limits (white circle with three diagonal black stripes - hit the gas, Franz!). Occasionally some ill-advised politician proposes a change and is promptly never heard from again. "Changing speed limits is a political third rail" is one comment I've heard. Austria, Switzerland, even Italy all have absolute speed limits (IIRC 120-130 km/hr or 75-80 mph). Levels of enforcement vary, but radar cameras don't sleep...

    There is, thanks to EU-rocrats, a fair degree of uniformity in traffic laws. But probably both an inclination towards order and the fact that getting a license can be a $2-3000 project contribute to more sanity. However, the closer to places where he who has the biggest horn wins, the more chaos begins to prevail.

    Road rage? Oh my... it happens. Guy was upset about having his grand vehicle overtaken by some sort of cheesebox with wheels. A tire wrench was applied to the cheesebox and, IIRC, the driver, too. Failure to move over can produce some fraught moments on occasion. The good news is the odds of being shot are far less than in the States - but not zero.

    Good to motorcyclists? IMHO, "tolerant" or "forbearing" is closer to it. And not even that, on occasion. My in-laws live just off a nice bit of twisty road (B54 - passing near Bad Schwalbach, Germany). On a good weekend, it's hard to count how many kneedraggers go zipping by. Tolerance and forbearance were replaced with a strict 30 km/hr speed limit (with cameras to back it up) in Adolfseck (real name - Google it), one of the best of the curves and right in the middle of the village. About the only thing the good citizens of Adolfseck didn't do was stand in the road with torches and pitchforks. Or maybe that comes next?

    Bikes passing on solid lines, with oncoming traffic, ducking into a small gap between to cars? Meh. Happens all the time. Even the saner among us have little qualm about dropping a gear and dropping the hammer to blow the doors off cars if there's a little more space to work with. Sets up a bit of revenge on occasion... "Move over for the likes of you, Herr Motorrad? I think not!"

    OTOH, the tour encountered a tour bus on the way up Timmelsjoch. Generally, the best option is to either pray a giant condor carries the bus off or stop for lunch, waiting until he's long gone. While searching for a friendly alm to buy some coffee and strüdel, the bus pulled over and waved us past! Part of the group was lucky and stayed in front of the bus, but those of us behind, waved thanks for the courtesy as we went by (honest). At the top, the same blue tour bus pulls into the parking area for a brief stop and then heads on down the other side. Our guide is mildly fuming about missing the chance to be out in front. "Not to worry - he'll pull over." Yeah, right." He pulled over on the way down, too. May his road stay dry and his tips stay high.
    Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.

  8. #53
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    The way Rob does it, discouraging groups of more than a few riders, reduces the competition aspect. And Again he makes it very clear that you don't need to ride with anyone if you don't want to, and solo is fine. Beach's also send you an application that asks your skill level and experience. He has turned riders away that he did not feel were experienced enough, which helps from the start.

    As for following him as a guide, he is VERY good at assessing riders behind him and I have never seen him keep a pace that others are struggling to maintain. You go wide one corner following him, or look like you are uncomfortable and he is on the case. Being an old roadracer and track coach, he will make you a better rider if you let him. If he sees deficiencies, he is not shy and will help you learn, and if you ask about a technique, he will spend time until you get it.

    I have seen him ride a clients passenger on his bike for a day or two, so the rider could get comfortable with the riding, with out struggling riding 2 up. I have seem him take a client on a ride as a passenger with him to show them a technique.

    As far as the pics showing crashes, he likely knows full well they are there and put them there. Rob doesn't sugar coat the fact that stuff happens, and the riding in Europe is demanding. Just like personal close calls can serve as a wake up call, so can the understanding of what you are getting into.

    His desire has always been to make sure you walked away with a GREAT experience, and knows that a big part of that is giving the client the skills to have FUN! Riding for 2 weeks with the seat being sucked up your sphincter is not fun, he knows that and will make sure you and your passenger can enjoy the journey.

    In '07, there was a rider and passenger that were in their 70's and newlyweds (widow and widower). He rode a cruiser in the Midwest (Indiana??) and was a long time rider. His new bride had only ridden around the flat lands with him, but this was the trip of a lifetime for him. After the 1st day of travel, she was beside herself, this was WAY more than she was comfortable with. Rob had a conversation with them and they really wanted to do the trip. Phone calls were made, and they had a Mercedes or BMW convertible there the next morning ( If memory is correct Rob or the van driver, maybe both drove 3 or 4 hours after dinner to get the car) Needless to say they were tickled pink, and Rob even made sure their was a bike available for a few days during the tour for him to ride, as it was his desire to ride the Alps, his smile was electric at dinner on those days he rode. They both left happy, which was the goal.
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  9. #54
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    I think you make a very good point about about a large group amping each other up.

    One of the people I talked to about choosing Edelweiss mentioned there was a couple in the tour who dropped an RT at least twice. Turned out the guy had been riding up until five years prior. His pillion was tired of being dropped every so often. It was "Can Am or nothing". That was ...ah-hem... five years prior to the tour. [/face palm]

    The same guy told me about a tour he took in Montana (IIRC). Mr. Cruiser and his hot mama figured they didn't need no stinkin' AGATT. By the end of a rainy first day they were soaked and cold and done. [/face palm - again]

    In the past, we've chartered boats; part of the sign-up process is a "captain's resume". Where, when, how often, what boat(s), any certifications... the obvious. In the case of those who might be a bit challenged by conditions, a day or two with a hired captain was strongly encouraged. I'm a little puzzled that it's not SOP with bike tours. 'Sides, that's were you can brag on your ridin'. [/LOL]

    I'm not so sure by-passing the wreck pix would be sugar coating. We all know wrecks happen. We all know drops happen. Unless the strategy was "are you rider enough?", I'd pass. IMHO, the collection was about 75% longer than needed. But that just my HO.

    Yep, the folks who go the extra mile(s) and hour(s) are to be treasured.
    Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.

  10. #55
    Cowboyatheart
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBEmerson View Post
    Just to add to the topic drift...

    I checked out the Beach page for the Alps tour and found a collection pictures from a trip (sooooooo needed culling!). Two crashes with one bike looking rather totaled and at least one...??? spinout to a drop (the tire marks are confusing).
    I don't see photos of rides and crashes, can you send a link? I am curious what your looking at.
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  11. #56
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    The slide show is in a Smugmug album. The link is in the lower left of the CAA tour page. Plan on more than 5 minutes to get through the album - oh my yes. IIRC, the fun starts about 60-70% of the way through.
    Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.

  12. #57

    Beach experiences

    I started riding on Japanese in '71, all I could afford. In 1980 i did my first Beach Tour with Rob's Dad and Mom. I'm 28 yo, and Bob gives me a 1979 R100RS, and says, "have fun!" Boy did I, and the rest, as they say, is history. Have been back to europe twice, Norway, and NZ, all with Rob, and am contemplating South Africa next Oct.
    I can only echo all the good things said about BMA, and have nothing to add, except an amusing story.

    One day My wife and I found ourselves behind 3 Eidelweiss riders, the last being not up to the level of the other 2. We are in matching leathers with a Munich tag on the bike. Passed him easily, long straightaway, they slowed as they knew I was not their buddy. Passed them too. Stopped 2 miles up at a leather shop, they pulled in too. { Here's where it gets funny} The lesser rider comes up to me, and says, "Guten Tag!". In my best attempt of an American trying to pass as a German, trying to speak English, I say, " You are American, jawohl?" He says, how the hell do you guys always know? I switched to Conn. Yankee, and said, "Because you've got Werner's stickers plastered all over your 3 bikes! Other 2 guys busted out laughing.

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  13. #58
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Somewhat OT:
    The Zellertal etc., etc. is a "pay to play" road. Our guide is busy paying the tolls for the group (clever move: give the guide a kitty to pull the tolls from rather than pass the hat at each stop). A GS, with Italian plates, pulls up. In the South Tirol area German is the primary language. Assuming the bike's somewhat local, I tell the guy, in German, he might as well go ahead, we'll be a while sorting things out. "I don't speak German, do you speak English"?

    Oops.

    Totally OT:
    Riding in a gondola while skiing in St. Anton (Austria), I ask, in German, the guy next to me about his snow board. He answers in German and we go a bit further with discussion. And then the penny drops. "I'm from Holland. Better we speak English."

    Oops.
    Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.

  14. #59
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Back OT, I hope.

    I did a little more reading on Beach's (BMCA) and hit one of the Big Problems that sent me towards Edelweiss: bike rental. It appears that BMCA is mostly hands-off on rentals. OK, I get the issue of avoiding having to floor plan bikes, etc. However, reading the Karl Maier web site isn't a happy experience. Lots of conditions and so on. I sent a note to BMCA, trying to sort this question out. But I'd like to hear BTDT comments, too.

    While we're at it, re-reading the "BMW Motorcycles" page, I hit Big Problem number 2. I'm sorry, but that page comes off as much too doctrinaire. I get it that some people haven't the sense given a dead goose, and need to be set straight on what they're getting into. But this is "we know best, you know nothing". IMHO that's not a good way to start encouraging someone to drop +/- $10K on a BMCA trip.
    Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.

  15. #60
    Cowboyatheart
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBEmerson View Post
    Back OT, I hope.

    I did a little more reading on Beach's (BMCA) and hit one of the Big Problems that sent me towards Edelweiss: bike rental. It appears that BMCA is mostly hands-off on rentals. OK, I get the issue of avoiding having to floor plan bikes, etc. However, reading the Karl Maier web site isn't a happy experience. Lots of conditions and so on. I sent a note to BMCA, trying to sort this question out. But I'd like to hear BTDT comments, too.

    While we're at it, re-reading the "BMW Motorcycles" page, I hit Big Problem number 2. I'm sorry, but that page comes off as much too doctrinaire. I get it that some people haven't the sense given a dead goose, and need to be set straight on what they're getting into. But this is "we know best, you know nothing". IMHO that's not a good way to start encouraging someone to drop +/- $10K on a BMCA trip.
    1 don't understand your comment. Rob has a selection of bikes and will work to get you any current bmw if he doesn't own it. They provide the bike, end of story.

    2 read however you want. Rob is saying that a lot of North American riders think they know how to ride, but when they get to Europe they are over their head. If you've ridden in the Alps, I don't know why this statement bothers you. It is a fact. That is all. Sounds to me like you disagree with the statement or their in your face approach.

    3 want a good experience? Beach's will give you the best opportunity to have one. The rest is your up to your attitude and approach.

    4 no one on this site cares who you go with, we are just telling you Beachs is a good operator for many, many reasons outlined above. If you want to find reasons not to go with them. Then have at er. IMO "your loss."

    Is this too straight forward for you?


    Okay I was cranky when I wrote the above, and it still holds true.
    However, I will add that l know a tour is a big expense, a bit of a gamble, a decision not to take lightly, because of the cost. I think you would be be well served to go with Beachs. Your decision, good luck, choose well and may it work out for you, whatever your choice.
    Last edited by nelliott; 12-18-2016 at 03:26 AM.
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