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Thread: No tour return to the Alps

  1. #46
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Next video...

    Silvretta Hochalpenstrasse - Silvretta High Alpine Road is a broad "detour" around the St. Anton am Arlberg area. It runs south of there but is still considered to be in the Arlberg alpine region.

    I picked it for two reasons. First, I've seen it in a couple of videos, including one by Alexander Thiessen. Second, the Arlberg Tunnel was (and is) closed for, I assume maintenance or repairs. The only alternative, when going throught St. Anton (AKA "Stanton") is Arlbergpass. With the tunnel closed much of the truck traffic is now on the road through the pass. I found that out on the trip from Scharnitz to Andermatt.

    The route basically starts in the city of Bludenz and ends in the city of Landeck, all in Austria. The true Silvretta Hochalpenstrasse is a 22 km / 13.5 mile toll road (€12 for motorcycles) but the road from Bludenz passes along an attractive valley. There is, of course, some traffic, but, if ridden as a chance to look around, it's a nice ride. The hairpins don't show up until after the toll booths.

    While not as wide as the Swiss roads I rode, the road is a good, paved two lane road. Aside from the usual tour buses (check out my "hole shot" on a public transportation Landsbus, leaving a toll booth), there's also construction traffic. The dams on two of the three reservoirs are being worked on. The project is listed as ending sometime in 2020. I wound up behind a dump truck, with no sane chance to pass (I saw some insane passing, though) until the toll booths.

    The area hosts the Silvretta Classic Rallye at the start of July. For much of the route to the pass, I saw all manner of impressive cars, some going back to the 20's. The "parade" started down from the pass - being caught behind a climbing "parade"... I don't want to think about it. Among the "prizes" was seeing a Jaguar "D" race car. At one point I thought that was the coolest car ever. There were some former rally racers as well as more sedate MB sedans, etc.

    Some of the cars were well over the center line. Why someone would stick a high 5 - 7(?) six figure car car out there escapes me. We own a '90 VW Vanagon Westphalia camper that we just finished restoring - hang it out in the middle? Hell no!!!

    Anyway... once up top, I expected an easy ride through a high Alpine valley. I got that, but it lasts only about 6-8 miles. At even moderate cruising speeds, it doesn't last very long. The ride from the eastern toll booths was, scenically, as good, if not better, although not in an open high valley.

    Overall, I rate this one as a "been there, done that" experience, with not enough to warrant going back for additional rides.



    The next passes in the pipeline... Stelvio (north road and south road will be separate videos), Umbrail, and Ofen passes.

    About the soundtracks. First, videos with screaming winds and maybe a little motor noise are, IMHO, downright annoying. My video footage doesn't have the worst wind noise, but it's dominated by a non-stop gear whine. Even with ear plugs, it wasn't too far from listening to my dentist doing a cleaning. Argh! There are some bits of the "K1600 sound", of course. My choice is to keep the sound under a music track. The bike sounds come through in quieter passages and in one or two other spots (the cow bells in the Tremola ride, for example) I've deliberately mixed to bring up the bike sound. I'll be interested in comments about the bike/no bike sound choice.

    The all of music comes from Jamendo.com, which is gentle on the copyright issue (some performers hold the right to monetize from any use). Using Allman Brothers, Doobies, etc. incur copyright complaints that can get a video banned from YT. And IMNSHO the music all a non-stop cliche. I think I've picked music that has at least something of the feel of the ride. To date, there's been some blues (Dickey F - still blows me away) and some middle of the road (Esther Garcia), but I've leaned towards techno. This track uses one long set, from a live session. To me it feels like music with some drive to it - good riding music. It's music I use when riding. I'll be interested to hear about the music choices.
    Last edited by RBEmerson; 09-04-2017 at 03:51 PM.
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  2. #47
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    The Stelvio video! Woohoo! Complete with The Camper From Hell, insane riding, and general traffic mayhem. And some of my worst turns.

    I figured I was reasonably tuned up for Stelvio's north road (with the 48 turns). Things started well enough. Not counting the turn with sand (oil/gas control from an accident??). And then The Camper From Hell showed up. I'll let the video explain that. What's missing from the video are the expletives unleashed on this fool. Check out the Porsche who didn't have the time to check out why traffic had stopped and I was waiting for space to turn without being nailed by hidden down-bound traffic. And there's more. Oh my goodness yes there is.

    I had a choice of riding over the pass on Friday or Saturday. I picked Friday, thinking traffic wouldn't be quite so bad as with the weekend. I don't think it really mattered. Even the top was almost completely parked in. I finally found a place in a corner of a hotel parking lot. I tucked in next to an English couple on a Gold Wing. We had a good chat about riding, etc. - the usual stuff. At least I had my lunch at Bruno's (yellow umbrella on the right at the top of the road), although Bruno took the day off. Drat.

    About all that motor revving at starts. It's all the clutch lever's fault - really. It felt OK, but it wasn't until I was headed back to Munich that I woke up to the fact it was on the wrong setting for me. I changed the setting and no more revving.

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  3. #48
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    What goes up must come down. Here's the goes down video. While there are a bunch of "tornanti" - Italian hairpins - near Bormio, the rest of the south road is almost tame. Compared to the north road, it's certainly less demanding. My recollection from last year is the road surface was almost a continuous run of patches. As the video shows, that's no longer the case.

    Rather than follow the road to Bormio, which becomes, effectively a dead end for passes, I opted to go north, back into Switzerland. Umbrailpass is maybe 2 km / 1 mi from the turn off. As I said in the video commentary, "don't blink or you'll miss it". Aside from a small sign, there's no there there. The Swiss/Italian border is far more obvious (and the road changes at the border). The Swiss customs building and adjacent garage are neat and tidy, as only the Swiss can do it.

    The next significant town, on this road, is Santa Maria Val Müstair. It's at the south end of Engadine, a long valley, extending northwest, past St. Moritz. The valley was carved out by Ice Age glaciers.

    My original plan was to stay in Engadine until I turned off towards Albulapass on the way to Davos and then turn back east for Flüelenpass. Unfortunately, a stop at Reschenpass and Reschensee, plus the time spent with Stelvio, meant I'd be coming back to Prutz after sunset. I shortened the loop by turning north at Zernez and back east at Susch. So it goes. The route, however, was good for high speed cruising in the valley.

    The next pass, after Umbrailpass, is Ofenpass. The next day, leaving Prutz for the Bolzen/Bolzano area, has two glacier roads and Timmels Joch and Jaufenpasses. Kauntal passes through several free-range cow pastures. There'll be a bit of humor in that video. Ötztalergletscher, at 2830 m / 92 85 ft, is the second highest paved road in Europe. (Veleta, in the Spanish Sierra Nevada, is the highest at 3300 m although a part goes to 3850 m. Access is limited.)

    Last edited by RBEmerson; 09-11-2017 at 03:24 AM.
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  4. #49
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    One change near Stelvio was the repaired south road. The other change of note is more important. There are more radar cameras, in the Parco Nazionale Dello Stelvio area, than I saw last year. The showed up from the Glüns/Glorenza area towards Prad am Stilfserjoch/Prato allo Stelvio and probably up to Trafoi. The camera's are in waist-high orange housings. Many cameras only look at the front of a vehicle. At least some of the cameras use obvious mirrors to get the back. The intent is clear, calm down the amped up Rossi-wanna-bes. At least one or two cameras were marked with "speed checked by electronic means" signs posted before reaching the camera. Read and heed.
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  5. #50
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Ofenpass was the last pass for this part of the trip. I followed Swiss route 28 from Santa Maria Val Müstair to Zenez. The ride was mostly fast cruising with light traffic. For the first, and only time, John Law happened to be on the side of the road. Fortunately for me, the officers were standing next to the road, discussing who knows what. And I was at the legal limit. Speeding isn't cheap in Switzerland. But then, nothing's cheap there.

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  6. #51
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    Perhaps if you had been riding a bike more to your liking in the tight stuff the entire trip would have been more fun? There are lots of places on this earth where smaller bikes are best suited.
    What Paul said, repeated advice told you that the RT was too big last time, so you went with a bigger bike.

    Dolomites are motorcycle nirvana or maybe you just don't like corners, and that is alright, but for those of us that do and know how to ride them, choosing the right bike, that area is as close to heaven as you will get.

    Solo rider F700 GS is perfect, even great for 2 up and it is far better than an RT or any K bike.
    2010 F800GS Full Ohlins package, '04 R1100S Replika
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  7. #52
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Guys, I really don't want to re-litigate the bike choice. The RT I rode last year had a tranny that felt as thought was coming apart. The bike was a rental. I have no idea what its history was. Maybe someone beat it up. Anyway, based on that instance, no RT for me.

    The KGT I rode had/has problems: no low end torque (some owners say otherwise - the one I rode didn't), it's top-heavy (generally acknowledged by owners), and IMHO the side stand is poorly designed (too short and too close to the bike, putting the bike well over to the left). The latter two make parking lots and roadside stops more "interesting" than necessary.

    Neither bike showed handling issues. That includes Stelvio's north road.

    Let's move on.
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  8. #53
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Regarding the Dolomites, I think I've been clear about the scenery being fantastic. What was not fantastic were some of the passes. No real view, mobbed parking lots... meh. The roads were OK, but just didn't light my lights. I expected much more than I found. Maybe if I was there either side of the summer vacation season I'd think differently.
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  9. #54
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    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.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  10. #55
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    I'm sorry to hear about your loss.

    There's something to be said for off-season trips. Generally speaking, while Europeans take extended vacations (for example, reservations for accommodations on North Sea islands expect a minimum of a two week stay) the timing is fairly tight: July and August. On the other hand, weather can become a bigger factor in the off season. It's a hard call to make.

    In my case, the Edelweiss tour schedule locked me into early July. This year, travel with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law was set by their vacation schedule. Otherwise I would have at least considered at least mid-June.
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  11. #56
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Thank you.

    I would have considered at least mid June...
    I was thinking September, because then all the passes should be melted out.

    As for weather, being a Northerner, the only weather I would have any concern about is heat.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  12. #57
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Melted, yes. Although there's something to be said for seeing large patches of snow on the mountains in July. However, as you know, it can snow, in July, on the Stampede. The odds are you're safe from snow in the passes. "Past performance is no guarantee of future results". And there is the chance of rain.

    I'm not trying to talk you out of September so much pointing out things to factor into your plans.

    One of the regrets of having only a week for this trip is it didn't afford time to step off the bike and ride a gondola up a mountain, visit Reichenbach Falls of Sherlock Holmes fame (the falls do exist), visit the St. Gotthard pass museum, or the motorcycle museum on the Timmelsjoch road.

    Two things happened to limit time to "smell the roses". First, the original plan was to take at least two weeks to cover the same basic route, and do it on my bike. That didn't happen. Second, I should have recognized i was falling into the "I want to see it all" trap. Trying to pass hunt in Switzerland, Austria/Südtirol, the Dolomites, and Grossglockner wasn't a good choice. If I'd stayed with the first two, I might have been less pushed for time. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. [/grin]
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  13. #58
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    After the day with the loop that included Stelvio, I left Prutz to catch up with Chris and her family. I planned a route that included to glacier roads. This is the first of them: Kaunertalgletscherstrasse. The upper part is a toll road. The toll road ends at 4250 meters / 9022 ft.

    The road passes through several ecological zones, from pines and spruces to... not very much. Instead, there's lots of rock. It comes from the mountains slowly eroding away. Conveniently, the mountains are still growing, at the same rate they erode.

    The road itself varied from, at the bottom, not quite two lanes squeezed together, to a wider roadway at the top. The turns have about a 30 m / 35-40 ft radius, which makes them open enough to make the riding fairly easy. This was an enjoyable ride. Even if I did meet cows, and cow patties, along the way.

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  14. #59
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Aside from the Leutasch video, I haven't put up any "non-pass road" video. I've received a couple of requests for that. Here it is. It's the rest of the road from to toll portion of the Kaunertal glacier road. I have much more of that sort of video. I'll be happy to put them into another video.



    The next videos will be the Ötztaler Gletscherstrasse, Timmelsjoch, and Jaufenpass. After that is a sampling of the Dolomites and then Gross Glockner. And that'll be the end of the series.
    Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.

  15. #60
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    The video factory is taking a break. Chris and I are taking our VW "Westy" camper on a tour of the NY Finger Lakes. Given there's wine involved and the designated driver situation is changeable, the KRS will stay home (sob! sniff!). Anyway, the videos will resume sometime around the middle-end of October.
    Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.

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