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Thread: No tour return to the Alps

  1. #61
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    I put this one up for laughs and grins. It's shows how the roads were starting to get crazy as the weekend started. This was shot around 1PM, on the road that leads to Timmelsjoch as well as the glaciers in the Ötztal area.



    I'll admit my pass wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done, but the cars did move over a little and the lanes were surprisingly wide.

    The guy on the GS was a piece of work. Look closely and you can see him tailgating until he finally takes off. And watch where he taps the brakes. Even after he got around the tractor there's a brief flash of red. I kinda think the right box is sitting in the bushes somewhere, a casualty of a hard drop or a pass a little too close.

    BTW, look in the upper left corner, at the blue square on the GS' plate. There is an "I" for Italy in the square. Italy, where the driver with the loudest horn wins. [/wink & grin]
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  2. #62
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    I have to laugh at the tailgating reference. The Alps region is much different than N America. You can ride close to other vehicles without fear of being brake checked (unless maybe it is a rental with an american behind the wheel), it is a signal that you want to pass. Riding 3-6 car lengths back and acting like you are passing a tractor trailer is far more dangerous as you have to build much more speed. Drivers have no problem with it, they don't seem to get into chest thumping behavior like drivers here.

    If you are close, you can clear a car in about 2-3 seconds, and be back in your lane. Watch local riders close and talk to someone that rides or drives there. I can tell most NA rider from a mile away, by their dress and habits.

    If you thought that was a "risky pass" don't watch this, your head will explode. A little grainy, old vid before the high res was common.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHZPZR6ziWc
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  3. #63
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Well, yes and no. Being close to the vehicles to be overhauled is sort of a mixed bag. Some bikes need a bit of a running jump to hit "like it happened yesterday" speeds. But the big worry isn't brake checked but real deal sudden braking. The rules of physics apply as much there as here. Doing 150 - 160 km/h down the road, in the far left lane to avoid a slower vehicle, and seeing a whacking great hood materialize in the mirrors can be ...um... sphincter-tightening. When braking-related accidents happen, it's usually a serious pile up. OTOH, trying to do a 5 second gap at speed can be a challenge.

    Speaking of insanity...

    At least the cars saw it coming...
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  4. #64
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    After a "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans" break, I'm back to produce more videos.

    After the Kauntal Gletscherstrasse I headed on a big curve passing by Landeck and heading to ski country in Ötztal or the Ötz valley. By the time I got to Sölden, at the base of the glacier road, it was hard to miss this ski country. Stores with ki rentals and ski equipment lined the main road. A ski bridge crossed "Main Street"! Turning onto the start of the road to the glaciers, trails leading to Sölden were obvious - including high fences to keep people from careening onto the road.

    In the summer the trails become mountain bike trails. A major biking area splits off just before the bridge (with a ski trail) at the end of the video.

    The ride up started with the usual tree-lined road with occasional hairpin turns. Because the winter skier traffic, the turns are wide and not particularly challenging. The upper part of the road is a toll road.

    After fumbling my way through the earlier toll booths, I stopped to put some Euros in the pocket on the left cuff of my Roadcrafter. And promptly had to chase down a 10 Euro note that escaped before I could zip up the pocket. I'm pretty sure the woman in the toll booth saw the chase. And laughed when I showed up.

    This time I basically had the money ready to hand over. Once I figured out how much the toll was. I heard her say 5 Euros and something but missed the "something". I'm sure I'm the first rider with "how much was that?". Anyway, with a "ciao" I hit the road again. There are more hairpins, and each one has a sign marking the altitude at the turn.

    At the building with the sand "tank", the terrain turned to rocky talus and general "you're up in the high Alps". The roads are built on this terrain, of course. I have no idea about how the road is stabilized to keep it from sliding into the valley.

    The upper area struck me as... strange. The opposite of the word harmony is antinomy (today's new vocabulary word!). And that's how I felt. Everything seemed a little odd, a little "off". Even the Stelvio road isn't quite as "out in it" as this road. Part of it is the wide open, empty space from the vast parking areas, with nobody parked there. And part of it is the looming face of Rettenbach Glacier.

    The uppermost parking area is, depending on who you listen to, either the first or second highest paved road in Europe, at 2830 meters / 9280 feet. Some sources claim Cime de la Bonette is higher at 2802 meters / 9192 feet. Spain claims a 3300 meter / 10,826 foot road is the winner. It all hinges on the type of road. Ötztal Glacier Road ends in a parking lot. Cime de la Bonette is through road. The Spanish claim is a mix of dirt and paving. IMHO, it's all a p***ing contest.

    I cam down from the highest parking lot and found my way to the tunnel that goes to Tiefenbachferne Glacier. That was 2+ minutes of 40F cold - brrr! This glacier is harder to find than Rettenbach. OK, been there, done that. Back through the freakin' cold tunnel and back down the valley and upper 70's to low 80's temps.

    And to more cows... At least I didn't have to dodge wet cow pies this time.

    Back in Sölden, I headed off towards Timmesjoch. And Jaufenpass after that. Woohoo!

    - - - -

    Getting serious... Parts of Rettenbach are covered with white "tents" to minimize melting. The glacier face retreats 30 to 60 feet a year. It's melting at the front and there's not enough new snow to push the glacier forward. The glaciers now have snow cannons on them. There are more snow cannons in summer storage. They'll add coverage at lower altitudes. The small lakes near the parking lots provide part of the water supply to feed the snow-making system. Based on past years, the chances of skiing into town on natural snow are not good.

    It gets worse. The glaciers are a major source of drinking water for Switzerland, Austria, and the Southern Tyrol. And much of the electrical grid is hydro-electric. That grid also supplies power to Italian cities including Milan. Less glacial supply, less to drink and keep the lights on.

    The video was uploaded as a 4K video. It may take YouTube a day or two include the 4K version.
    Last edited by RBEmerson; 11-19-2017 at 05:23 AM. Reason: Fixed heinous video URL error
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  5. #65
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    I've churned out the next video, Timmelsjoch, shot after the Ötztal video. The route from one to the other is quite easy and short. The road passes through three towns plagued (IMHO) with among the least ...um... lovely town names I've heard: Unter Gurgl, Ober Gurgl, and Hoch Gurgl. Gurgl... as in "the little stream gurgled on its way to the sea..." Meh - maybe it's just me.

    By the time I arrived in lovely Hoch Gurgl, it was close to 2 PM. On a Saturday. With decent weather (ignoring the sprinkles seen in the last video). Compare the traffic here with what passed for traffic on the Ötztal Gletscherstrasse. I guess "up and over the pass" is more attractive than "up the road and back the same way."

    Heading south from the Gurgls, there are (relatively) long stretches of (relatively) straight road through a glacial valley. About 12,000 years back, at the end of the last Ice Age, this valley was being scoured out by a glacier. Which could have been as much as a mile deep or thick. Yikes!

    Anyway, I got to the top and wanted to stop to see what those odd brown "hanging out" things were about. I saw them last year, on the Edelweiss tour, and didn't get a chance to check them out. Unfortunately, it was the same thing this time. I got close, looked for a place to park and... nada. Worse, while I looked for a parking spot the K1600 wouldn't make a fuss about (wrong slope, not enough room to turn in, blah, blah, blah), a bus went by. Headed south. The way I was going to go. ARGH! (I actually said that, but it was lost in the edit to piece together the ride up and the ride down) As you'll see, I finally passed the bus, but not until most of the good parts of the descent were behind me. ARGH!! Again.

    Once again the "too much to do in too little time" demon got me. I'd planned to have lunch in St. [Leonardo] in Passaria, at the end of the Timmelsjoch road, and shortly before the start of the Jaufenpass road. The Sandwirt is a well-known inn, and the home of Andreas Hofer. His story's too long to go into here, but what matters for the moment is he's a Tyrolian hero who fought for Tyrolian independence. Andrea Hofer's name shows up on street signs, and all sorts of places where a famous name might show up. Anyway... back to last year's trip. After Jaufenpass, the group had lunch at the inn, and a good lunch it was. It was good fuel to tackle Timmelsjoch. I wanted to go back there for lunch. But the clock said "no way". My wife and her brother and sister were expecting me to arrive for dinner at a fantastic inn - Ansitz Kematen. And that wasn't around the corner and it wasn't a straight ride (what is in the Alps?). No lunch with Herr Hofer's successors. Darn.

    About the video...

    When I signed up for the Edelweiss trip, I searched YouTube for videos of the passes I expected to see. There are, I'm sure, at least thousands of videos on the topic. One set of videos was shot by a German, Alexander Thiessen. He turned the camera on and let it run until the ride was over. There's an occasional transition past a stop to take pictures or have lunch or whatever. Otherwise, it's one long continuous shot. It's a great way to get a feel for what a given pass or pass road looks like.

    A gripe: too many bike videos feature lots of wind noise and maybe a tiny bit of motor noise. The images may be good, but the soundtrack... isn't. Really isn't. In fact, IMNSHO it's awful. And the clever video people drag out some bar band playing something where the word "motorcycle", or "bike", or "ride" appears. Or they rip off the Allman Brothers' material, or Bob Seegar's material, or the Doobies... I hope the point is clear. It's all so very lame.

    Alexander somehow came to Jamendo.com. There's no license for non-commercial use. YT does not take kindly to outright copyright / DRM infringement. Jamendo material gets, at the most, "the artist reserves the right to monetize the material containing this work." Meh. Works for me. Alexander happens to like material with some electronica flavor. In his videos, he replaced the roar of an overloaded mic bombarded by wind with music from Jamendo. With a few exceptions, the music starts at the beginning and goes to the end. There's no real mixing, just start with a track in an album, and use everything that follows that. I like the idea. As you've heard in my videos.

    Alexander, on occasion, came up with some ...um... interesting choices. Fonogeri's adaptation of John Masefield's poem Sea Fever - "I must go down to the seas again..." - as near rap. Or the Native American chants. Or the Indian songs.

    I've tried to select material that fits at least the idea of riding, or the type of riding. In the St. Gottard Pass video, the change from smooth road to La Tremola is, I think, pretty obvious on the soundtrack. The Ötztal Gletscherstrasse video music is, I think, somewhat like the odd feeling I had from seeing the open, empty space dominated by the face of a glacier. Away from there, the music picks back up. One change for Alexander: I leave the bike noise on the soundtrack, but it's carried way under the music. But it still shows up when the music is quiet. And, when cows with bells show up, the music drops and the camera mic comes back up.

    So... I have Alexander's "turn the camera on and go riding". I have his use of Jamendo in place of noise and bar bands. It fits my idea of how video like this should be done. I'd like to think I've put together some videos that have some entertainment value in addition to "this is what Katzenjammer Pass looks like". And those videos go back to Alexander's work. This video is a "thank you, Alexander".



    Alexander's Timmelsjoch video (Can't put two videos in one post)
    Last edited by RBEmerson; 11-11-2017 at 03:36 PM. Reason: Corrected place name - St. Leonardo in Passiria
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  6. #66
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    The next to the last pass for Sat. 8 July was Jaufenpass (Passo di Monte Giovo) at just short of 2100 meters / short of 7000 ft. This is an easy one. Sorta. There are very few hairpins and lots of bendy road in between. The road, however, is a bit on the narrow side. Not as narrow as the Furkapass road towards Andermatt, but not wide, either. There must have been a BMW Mini rally going on. Count the Minis coming at me as I went up to the top of the pass. Hint: more than two Minis...

    On the first Alps trip, this was the second pass I rode. It's a good confidence builder and tune-up for Timmelsjoch (they're even on the same road). By the time I got here, it was pressing on for five-ish and I still had a ways to go. I stopped long enough to rubberneck, check the camera, and move on. That ol' devil "too many places, too little time" was pushing me harder.



    ADDED: The video's being replaced because of technical problems. The link above is for the new version.

    The next stop is Penserjoch. The first pass I rode last year. Woohoo!
    Last edited by RBEmerson; 11-18-2017 at 04:29 PM.
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  7. #67

    Talking Fly your bike to Europe Air Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by Rinty View Post
    Thanks for taking us along, RB. It'll be nice to watch the videos over the winter. My wife passed recently, and I've got lots of time on my hands, so I've been thinking about doing a Beach's tour in low season. Your, and others' comments, have given me a better understanding of how to do it.
    We sent our bike ahead by one day to Frankfurt and rode for 6 weeks. We enjoyed it so much we left it there and will head back in 2018. Cost from Toronto $1100 if you use Air Canada for your own flight. You can fly from Calgary to Europe.

  8. #68
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    I wanted to do this originally. I tried to get prices out of Air Canada, leaving from Ottawa or Montreal, but they didn't have anything and wouldn't until mid-April. That's way, way, way too late for booking hotels for the summer. 'Course it didn't help my wife (non-rider) didn't like the plan. At least there's some hope for negotiations with her. Air Canada was a brick wall.

    Since then, I've out that Lufthansa has a similar program. I haven't figured out where they go in the US. If I'm really lucky, they'll "fly your bike" from Philadelphia. 40 minutes and I'm there.

    I still want to take my bike to Germany. There's a lot to see even on day trips from where my in-laws live. We have friends in interesting places and far enough away to pick a non-autobahn route. And the Rhine's about 20 minutes away from "home".
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  9. #69
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    The last pass from Saturday's pass hunting expedition, Penserjoch, was an easy ride. The road's narrow but traffic was light. All of which was a good thing. By the time I arrived the first town after the pass, it was about 5:30. And I still had some riding to do before arriving at Ansitz Kematen (literally "hotel on a hill in Kematen"). Chris and her sister and brother were waiting for me to show up for dinner. It was a bit of a push - once again I'd set up an approximately 180 mile trip. Easy in flatland, not so easy in the passes. Still, the rides to the two glaciers and three passes were a good way to wrap up the last of the Central Alps.

    The K1600GT did well with the long runs and curvy roads but, as before, was a handful in the hairpins. The last two passes and the rides in between showed what the bike can do.

    Sunday would include some passes in the Dolomites and the last pass for the day, and the trip, is Grossglockner. Where I was chased by a serious rain storm...

    This video, like the others, was uploaded in 4K resolution. It may take YT a while to go from 360 to 2180.

    Last edited by RBEmerson; 11-19-2017 at 04:42 PM. Reason: Minor change on low res. number
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