Always difficult to say goodbye to such a super group, so we thought we would give them an official salute in pictures. Here we go: in random order of appearance, thanks so much for a wonderful tour to:
Dan "Mister Optimistic" on his very stylish R 1200 RT. And he actually has conversations with a robot voice. About woodchucks.
Wilden "When in doubt, flatout!" on his 650 GS. A single cilinder never revved so high!
"Rock? No roll!" Scott on his 800 GS. Puddles of mud on Furka? Let's get this bike a little offroady-dirty!
Jerry "The bike collector" on his R 1200 R. Quiet, but efficient and very, very precise. If a Swiss watch could ride, it would be called Jerry.
"The Doc" Jim on his Honda NC. Jim really likes a nice piece of venison. Hunting techniques are being finetuned.
"Turn my head" Angela on her 650 GS. More confident in every single corner. And there were thousands of them! Sharing her picture with some verrrry Italian way of biking!
"Rolling Stone" Rick on his 800 GS. Helmets are nice. Black hats are WAY more stylish.
Gary and "aka Elaine" Pete on the R 1200 RT. Used to sell 'em. Now he rides 'em!
"Gumbytaxi" John and Laurel, cosy on their R 1200 GS. Three up is green!
And "Captain" John and Bonnie on Batlleship Galactica! The Alps are just a little less high since the weight passed over them.
Abdul "Adidas" on his R 1200 GS. We may need another bottle of wine...
"Mister Ed" on his Triumph Tiger. Always smiling!
Hans "Guitarman" on his Kawasaki Versys. What a T-shirt collection!
And here they are! Thank you all for a wonderful Ultimate Alps, and hope to see you all again (including Gumby) on another Edelweiss tour! Safe travels everyone!
Riding day 8 - Heading back to Mieming!
Spectacular rain stopped us from having our second picnic on the way home to Mieming. Sad, but Sandwirt, the historical little restaurant in Passeiertal, provided a worthy alternative and a nice warm shelter from the rough mountain weather.
And so our bikers arrived back in Mieming, where Tour Guide Wim (being Belgian) had prepared a nice and cold boot beer to celebrate the end of the tour at the Edelweiss head quarters! Here you see Pete professionally photo bombing a picture moment!
The whole group was still going to farewell dinner together, but here it was time to say goodbye to their trusty bikes. After a full week on the road, this got a little emotional for John and his Harley.
Riding day 7 - Rest day ride to Lake Garda
Dan was seen mysteriously staring at a map of Lake Garda for a long time... We wonder what he was seeing... Either way, what a fantastic ride it was! Including the legendary road up to Capovalle and the 800 corners in about 45 minutes! Splendid riding from all our guys, who went quite a bit faster than our waiters at dinner in the evening
Riding day 6 - Rest day ride to the Dolomites
TRAFFIC was the word that best describes our rest day loop around the Dolomites. It seemed like all Italians, Germans, French, Dutch and Belgians had decided to take their cars, camper vans, bicycles and scooters out to Italy's motorcycle playground. It really wasn't anymore, but the group decided to overlook the spectacle from a nice quiet little lunchplace coming down from Passo Gardena. Very nice and relaxing, as a rest day should be!
Temperatures in Bolzano went completely off the scale, so Tour Guides Wim, Ted and Michael took the whole group up the mountain for dinner in the evening. Not on motorcycles, but in a cable car. And boy did we have dinner with a view as the sun set over one of the prettiest views of the whole tour.
Riding day 5 - Lugano to Bolzano
We never really feature our big momma luggage van on these blogs, so we thought it was time to give you an impression of how perfectly our group's suitcases were sized for the van on this tour. A tiny bit heavy on the mountain passes though...
Waiting for the ferry, Abdul (or Addas) (or Adidas) (does anyone really know his name?) lost sight of his beloved 1200 GS and a very dangerous looking local tried to steal it! Luckily the group managed to convince the thief to give Abdul his bike back. Close call!
On the ferry over Lake Como, everyone was kind of hoping for George Clooney to show up in his yacht somewhere. George was out of town, but our dear Ed looked just (about) as handsome on Italy's pretty lake.
Arriving after the "iron butt ride", 10 hours on the road to Bolzano, our group very much deserved the two rest days that awaited. This was celebrated with a bit of a late storytelling evening by the pool, so we may have to officially apologize to the neighbours of Hotel Scala. No photographical evidence exists which isn't slightly off-focus. Strange...
Riding day 4 - Zermatt to Lugano
Tour Guide Ted took off this day with a small part of the group who chose do to only bike riding today. Whereas Tour Guide Wim took the rest of the group... On a trainride! "Huh?", we here you say? Well, here's why...
Above Zermatt, you see, is this mountain: Matterhorn. Probably the most famous and most photographed mountain peak of all the Alps. And since we consider ourselves to be pretty Ultimate on this tour, we decided to get up close and personal.
A spectacular train ride out of Zermatt takes you up to this place: Gornergrat. More than 10.000 feet up in the mountains... And with the best (and we really mean the BEST) possible view on the most iconic peak of the Alps.
Even on the ticket, the train looks spectacular (thank you Dan for finding it back so that we could use this picture here
But if you really want the proper view: here it is. Mister Blue Sky would have been the appropriate soundtrack for sure!
What a glorious sight!
Our guests even got a special flyby from Swiss mountain workers who were airlifting building materials in the area.
The view to the other side wasn't exactly horrible either, by the way.
After a quite hilarious train ride back down to Zermatt, it was time to start the long trip to Lugano, on the Swiss-Italian border. Unbelievable how the weather immediately switched to Italian mode: temperatures started rising off the scale in an afternoon's time.
Riding day 3 - Brunnen to Zermatt
This tour is called Ultimate, right? So no short riding routes today! Everyone decided to go for the longer route on this third riding day. So Tour Guides Michael and Wim took the whole group out for a fantastic ride over Switzerland's motorcycle playground: the loop around Süstenpass and Furkajoch.
We preferred arriving in Brunnen on our bikes and not in a little boat. But the next morning, all our ultimate bikers took off with a ferry ride over the Vierwaldstättersee.
Hardly an hour's ride out of Brunnen, we already stumbled upon this view on top of Brünigpass... It is hard work, this tour... Honestly...
Süstenpass said: I can beat Brünigpass anytime, and offered us this little picture perfect moment...
Ed even left a mark there to show his gratitude. They'll remember you for a long time up there now, Ed!
And look what we found on Göschenenalp, right inbetween our two passroads of the day... : the best restaurant in the Alps, run by chef/Tour Guide Ted. Edelweiss picnic-time!
Just... Well... Dutch Deliciousness is what it was!
No better place to have a delicious lunch than right in the middle of the landscapes we ride through all day long.
And what comes after a serious bit of a picnic? A nice little powernap. Jim and John didn't even think twice about it!
Dan decided to follow their example, but he likes his comfort, so converted his 1200 RT into a powernap-machine.
All that was left was the ride to Zermatt. Leaving the bikes in Täsch was hard, but being so high up in the mountains soon got everyone in a seriously Alpy mood. Dinner with raclette, the ultimate Swiss signature dish, made us forget we were on a bike trip for just a moment.
Riding day 2 - Pontresina to Brunnen
Tour Guide Ted left Pontresina with part of the group, up for the very long riding day, crossing back and forth from Switzerland into Italy, going over no less than six mountain passes!
Tour Guide Wim took off with the rest of the group who opted for the more leisurely, but very pretty shorter route, staying in beautiful Switzerland all day long.
All three guides seemed to be just as excited about a new riding day at morning briefing.
Wim even had a glorious assistant named Michael to do some map holding during the explanation of today's rides.
The riders doing the short (well, less long...) and leisurely route made it to the morning's coffee stop in absolutely gorgeous sunshine...
... permitting even a little sponsorship picture of Tour Guide Wim's Schuberth helmet...
But only an hour later heavy rain postponed their ride over Oberalp Pass... No worries though, as the group stumbled upon a very typical Swiss bratwurst-Stübl as the rain came pouring down.
And just for the record: yup, this is what is actually called a "small" Bratwurst in this part of the world...
Rain or not though... How wonderful can a day on the bikes be if it ends on a view like this! Vierwaldstättersee in Brunnen is a highlight all by itself, and how we all loved riding into a place like this!
Some people seemed to have arrived in Brunnen by boat.. We prefer our bikes, to be honest. Still a pretty sight though...
Riding day 1 - Mieming to Pontresina
For a moment, at first, we actually considered not leaving Mieming at all, since it offers views like this one! But in the end we decided to go for a little trip on our shiny bikes anyway!
Always a fantastic moment... The very first riding day briefing, and maps were starting to look very interesting in Mieming
Just a few safety and riding tips to go through...
... And then it was finally time for our guests to gear up for the tour!
For a moment there we thought Abdul had mistaken this motorcycle tour for a diving trip. Things turned out OK and he wasn't planning on riding his GS into deep water.
And off they went! Tour Guide Michael leads the way out of Kaysers hotel.
Last ones to leave were John and Bonnie on their very fancy Harley. They would end up getting lost somewhere near Stelvio Pass on the very first day... Quite an adventure it was, but after a joint search and rescue mission by Tour Guides Michael and Wim...
... Everyone, including John and Bonnie, made it safely into Pontresina!
The group doing the long route over Stelvio still had to skip the wonderful Gavia pass... Nature had decided that no Edelweiss-groups were going over there that day... Many thanks to Bruno, the world's most famous Würstl-maker on top of Stelvio, for waving us down and warning us about this!
But even without Gavia... It must have been a wonderful day on a bike when it includes this view! Stelvio, the mother road, in all its glory... Well done to all our riders who have checked it off their list!
And while we're talking about beautiful views... This Ultimate Alps Tour may very well win the award for prettiest picture ever taken on Reschenpass crossing into Italy. What an amazing sight!
Amazing moments turned into some very pretty pictures too... Here are Rick, Angela, Wilden and Scott enjoying a picture perfect moment high up in the mountains.
And every good riding day with a Belgian and a Bavarian tour guide on board... Ends with a nice cold beer where everyone shares their experiences. The Dutch tour guide has already been converted and does not drink only milk anymore
Tropical heat hits Mieming today, and actually causes the internet and some of our electronic devices to bug... So we sadly can't upload all of our pictures. But what is that you do see?
That's right... temperatures got up so high inside and out, that our guests for Ultimate Alps found the hotel entrance right by the front door the coolest place to escape from the heat. So we decided to move some hotel furniture around, and have probably the most original welcome briefing in Edelweiss history. Not in, but in front of the start hotel. This promises to be a very original tour Welcome everyone, and see you tomorrow for our fiirst riding day!
Arrival day minus one... Preparing Ultimate Alps
Seems like lots of bikes are getting ready at Edelweiss Bike Travel headquarters today...
Oh and look: there's a Dutch tourguide getting them all spotless and clean!
Mechanics Eva and Tom (may we just say: the coolest mechanics in the whole of Austria... Euhm... Make that the world) do the final checkups and have everything set up just right...
So all that is left now is one more evening. The tourguides are getting the routes sorted out and are spending an evening studying their maps of the Alps... One more night's sleep and we'll see our guests arriving at Kaysers Hotel in Mieming tomorrow... Watch this space!