Saturday, September 9, 2017

Swiss Alps Motorcycle Tour September 2017 - Part One.

This is a true bucket list ride for me. I was surprised and pleased that my wife wanted to make the ride with me. A full week is a long ride and Veronica did well in the Swiss weather we rode through. Planing involved finding a bike to rent and buying gear for Veronica. CycleGear had the gear she needed and a bluetooth equipped helmet so we could talk going  down the road. Last year I stopped and checked on rental motorcycles at the two dealers in Basel Switzerland.  The Suzuki-Triumph dealer had several bikes that would work for me, but not with the luggage needed for both of us. The BMW dealer salesperson at first told me they did not rent to riders from the USA. I asked why and was told a US rider rented; got tickets, crashed and flew home. Leaving a mess for the dealer.  It only takes one A-hole to give us all a bad name. I really needed a bike with luggage and the BMW RT filled the bill.  The person I talked with suggested I email the following year to the owner, that I wanted to rent and was a reliable person. I did this explaining that my daughter lived and worked in Basel. Felix the owner wrote me back offering me a 2005 RT or a new GS for rent. Both had the luggage we needed. Being vertically challenged the GS was too tall so the 2005 RT was reserved.   

Following is a day by day journal of our ride. We rode over the following passes: Grimselpass, Furkapass, Sustinpass,  Oberalppass and Julierpass. Hope you enjoy our ride. 

[Note: Click on any picture for full screen of picture. Esc to return.]

Saturday 9-9-17

We took the trolley to the BMW dealer wearing all our gear. Arrived and all was ready for us. 

A light was rain falling, but we were looking for a break in the weather. I was given a tour of the RT and the sales person set up the GPS to English. I was not able to bluetooth the GPS to my Sena headset, not a big problem.  Lots of dings and dents on the old 2005 bike. Fine for our ride and was told not to worry about any small scratches. 

We took off for our daughters apartment. Our plan was to leave on Sunday. Our daughter filmed us arriving.

Sunday 9-10-27

Got on the road at 10:00 am, waited for some early rain to clear.  We had planned to go to the Tete De Moine cheese factory for a tour. Their website said open on Sunday, rare in Switzerland. Our GPS took us on the freeway, where we did not want to go. We felt we were going the wrong way and it was getting time for lunch. Took the next exit and looked for a place for lunch. Found a small Coop market open that had sandwiches. 

Our first lunch on the bike.

We checked our location on Google maps and could not understand where the GPS had us going. We had gone the wrong way to get to the cheese factory. I reset the GPS to avoid highways and we  headed for Meiringen. The GPS set to avoid highways worked much better. Went over a small low pass by Zurich. Fine road and great views, stopped to check the area and take some pictures. Yes everything does look like a postcard.

Lots of traffic on a Sunday. Went over Brunigpass and dropped 
into Meiringen, our stop for the next two nights. This was the first Air B&B for just the two of us.  We were a little early so we got the bike parked and looked for a coffee. Needed a calculator to figure out how many Swiss Francs to put in the machine. $11.00 for the night of covered dry parking was a good deal. 

We did find a coffee shop that had some great pastries. 

We split a pastry that looked like a hotdog, it  was filled with a chocolate nut mixture.  

After our snack we headed for our Air B&B to check in and meet our hosts, Kathleen Hennessey and K. C. Hill. Both are Expats from the USA and have been in Switzerland for 25 years. After unloading our gear we went to the Sherlock Homes museum. Found out more about Sherlock than I ever knew. 

Our home for the next two nights. 

Veronica and Sherlock.

Town also known for meringues.

Walked around town looking for a light dinner. Found a restaurant by the rail station.  Veronica had the soup and  I had the smoked salmon plate. We split a flatbread with ham. One thing we are getting used to is you pay for water at dinner. Also many times wine is cheaper than the water. 

Tomorrow we hit some of the higher passes. We plan to ride over Grimselpass, Frukapass and Sustenpass.

Monday 9-11-17

Had a good nights sleep at the Air B&B. Our host had a light breakfast and coffee ready for us. 

All Air B&Bs are different and this one said their dog would be in the house. We had breakfast with "fifi".  

It was a perfect morning with rain overnight. I had checked Alpenpasse and found that Furkapass showed closed by snow .  After our breakfast we walked around town to let it warm a little. The passes are very close and we did not have a long day of riding. We  stopped at a bicycle shop and was told most closed passes open by noon. This was good news, the bicycle shop said we could find out if Furkapass was open when we got over Grimselpass. 

Outside the bike shop they had a vending machine for tires and tubes.  The Swiss just do many things a little different and may times better. 

Rode the Grimselpass up and over. I was impressed with how good the roads were. Tight wide turns and a steep climb up the mountain. In Switzerland the maximum speed limit other than freeways is 80 kph. Sounds like a lot but it is only 49.7 mph, slower than I would like to ride. Veronica said it was just fine. 

We did stop on top to have a look around.  

A couple we saw on top riding Yamaha models you can not buy in the USA.

View looking over the lake, yes it did snow over night. 

Panoramic view of valley we rode up. Note the color of the lake below. It was a slate gray color along with the streams flowing into it. 

View from the bottom of the road we just rode over. Coming down from the top of Grimselpass.

We stopped  for lunch at the bottom. Checked and Furkapass was open. Was much warmer on the bottom of the pass so we dinned outside.  So nice we took a walk around the small village of Gletsch
 where the roads intersected. 

Small church in the parking lot of the inn where we had lunch.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind. Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

Looking up at Frukapass from Gletsch. Our red RT in the picture, parked with the other motorcycles.

Even the signs marking where to walk are self explanatory. Veronica liked this one. 

Panoramic of the valley. Grimsel on the left and Fruka on the right. 

Stopped to take a picture as we start up Frukapass. You do feel like you are riding through a Swiss Calendar. Everything is picture perfect in Switzerland. 

Stopped half way up Frukapass. Looking back at the village of Gletsch with Grimselpass going up to the right in the distance. 

The road got twisty as we reached the top. We  even had a cow in the road just after the summit.  It was very windy on top and areas to park were covered with snow, we did not stop. Snow covered the hills but the was road clear.  A small kabota like unit was clearing the snow. No guard rails just cement posts so the snow could be pushed over the edge. Lots of cars and bikes for a weekday.  Weekends must be crowded, I am glad we are going over on a weekday. Got to bottom and couldn't turn left to Stutsenpass. The road was closed.  We asked the police at the turn around and were told  two hours minimum wait. Turned around and headed back up Frukapass and then on to Grimselpass. Backtrack but a whole new view going the other way.

Dark clouds were moving in, thought we might get some rain or snow as we head back to Meiringen. Stopped to get a picture at the metal motorcycle sculpture at the Grimsel summit.

You can see the storm building in the direction we are headed. With luck we will reach our Air B&B before the rain starts.

We did get back before the storm came in. We passed a Michelin rated restaurant walking around this morning and decided to have dinner there.  Dinner at this Michelin restaurant fair to good, but service was not good.  Guess you can not alway trust the reviews.

We started with a smoked trout appetizer as we were told it was fantastic. It was good. 

Veronica had chicken and salad that was very good, chickens in Switzerland have so much more flavor than at home.   Our chicken just doesn't taste the same.

I had the beef stroganoff it came with hash browns? Beef must have been a filet as it was perfect, but hash browns with stroganoff. Note this was not the Swiss Rossi that is very different. 

Tomorrow we have a long ride to St Moritz. We have been watching the weather, looks like it will clear. Two days ago it looked like we would have to cancel the trip to St Moritz.  We will be riding over Sustenpass and might see some snow. 

That ends part one of our trip report. Click here to read part two.