Time to round it all up...
And how better to say goodbye, than with just one last little collection of... Well... VERY pretty high alpine sights. No words, just sit there and dream away, just like we did. Thank you very much to all for a great tour, and Hamid couldn't have said it better than on this picture. See you all again!
Riding Day 6 - the last one already, from Warth back to home base Erding...
Never easy to leave a wonderful place, and even more so when it means the last riding day is starting... But at least the sun was willing to help and brighten up the day.
Here they go, Björn leading the way down into Lechtal, were the last few sweepers and switchbacks let us wave a proper goodbye to the Alps.
Time for a coffee stop at Heiterwanger See, and then it was time to go see the last picture perfect highlight of the tour: Neuschwanstein castle.
Tour guide Wim thought for just one moment he had some sort of eye for perspective...
... until Jeff showed him how a good picture is properly done, with his F800R.
Hard to believe, but just a few hours later, three tour guides were making a little farewell-speech back in Erding... has it really gone by so quickly? It has... But what a wonderful (very) high alpine tour it was!
Riding Day 5 - Pontresina to Warth (the proper riders' day!)
After the somewhat shorter riding day yesterday, tour guide Björn and Wim figured that our super group of riders deserved a little treat to make up for it. They fitted in not one, but three fantastic mountain passes in the morning's ride out of Pontresina. A wonderful start to a day that would end... Well... Just as wonderfully in the stunning scenery around Hotel Jägeralpe in Warth. Some impressions? Get ready to watch some seriously pretty scenery...
Julier pass was nothing more than a little warmup for these guys.
But whatever you do in the Alps, you can just as well do it with a view. Right? Or was Gery really just taking a picture from the perfect perspective, as he claimed?
Down Julier pass and straight back up Albula pass it went, and here the views really started to become something else. What a wonderful ride, and a great spot to meet up with both riding groups.
Now, Greg... We are pretty sure the tour guides said to watch out for cow pizza's in the morning briefing. That also goes for when you are actually off the bike, see?
Another pass further, on top of Fluela, it was time for a sample of the - according to tour guide Björn at least - best apfelstrudel in the world. Discussions among tour guides still ongoing, but has to be said our riders more than enjoyed it.
What the guides didn't say, was that they were actually keeping the very best scenery for the afternoon. A refreshing shower of rain (the only one on this whole tour!) led us to this place: Furkajoch. The view is even better than the road, and that's not easy to beat.
Time for a little posing in the best possible decor.
After a serious rider's day like that, not any view would do to spend the night. So how about this for a view of the hotel garden? Jägeralpe in Warth was once again one of those places you remember...
Time to celebrate at precisely beer-o'clock! Right, Mohamed?
Riding day 4 - Bolzano to Pontresina
Today we started to the Vinschgau valley, the main apple growing region in Italy. Good thing for the Belgian tour guide: they turn the fruit into cider afterwards. Phew!
Our first stop was at Glurns, a little town that is still surrounded by its old city wall. After that we went up the mother of all pass roads, the Passo di Stelvio with its 48 tight switchback turns. Everybody made it to the top without problems and we were already awaited by Bruno who served us sausages and Sauerkraut for lunch. The ride down to Bormio on the other side was even nicer than the way up and after a short stop in Livigno we took the Berninapass into Switzerland and arrived at the hotel in Pontresina, just before the road was blocked due to a festival going on tonight. What a wonderful day!
Entering the town of Glurns
And time to grab the last true Italian cappucino right in the heart of the little medieval town. So cosy!
And there she is... The Mother Road in all its glory: Stelvio pass road with its 48 switchbacks! Everyone on the edge of their bike seats, and everyone making it up perfectly well. Bucket list item: checked!
And what do you find on top of the most extreme pass road? The most extreme, proper, vintage and known all over the world... Sausages! Here are our bikes parked at Bruno's sausage stand on top of Stelvio. Bruno and Stelvio are still disputing who is the most legendary.
Charly and Roberto enjoying their lunch
Eric thought: hey... Wait a minute... i need to find out how this Bruno-dude makes these legendary sausages, so better just go and ask the man.
Difficult to find better views than Stelvio on the afternoon ride to the hotel, but tour guides Björn and Wim still gave it a decent try.
Roberto at the Passo di Foscagno
Don on his Monster
Gerald on his RT
Hamid even had a rather close encounter with high alpine wildlife on the road to Pontresina. Wildlife not able to testify about the experience though...
At the end of the day, having to make it into Pontresina one hour early because of the festival, didn't turn out to be such a bad idea. Because hardly 50 minutes after our arrival, the rain seriously hit, while we were having a nice cold beer, all dry and warm. Sometimes a plan comes together even without actually planning it. If the sun is back out tomorrow, we will try and make up for the shorter ride today. Fingers crossed...
Restday in Bolzano
Did we say very high alpine tour? Or did we say very HOT alpine tour? Temperatures were off the scale in Bolzano today, but there was an adapted program to everyone's needs and likes. The riders split up in two groups. One did a ride up the Passo Mendola and enjoyed the views down into the valley from Monte Penegal with tour guide Wim. The others went back into the heart of the Dolomites to get up and down eight mountain passes with tour guide Björn. Again proof of the considerable difference in fitness between Björn and Wim, has to be said. Oh yes, and then some other guests went to visit iceman Otzi in the museum, and one guest went not very high, but the highest possible... We explain here:
lunch at the top on Passo Duran
amazing mountain view
High up on Passo Mendola was not nearly high enough fo our very high alpine group. So tour guide Wim found a little hidden road not even on the map, leading up to this place: Monte Penegal. The view over Bolzano was... Well... Very high !
Riding back through Val d'Ultimo wasn't exactly bad looking either... Not bad for what we called a short restday loop.
But credit where credit is due... It was Mohamed who went up the veriest high (is that english?) of the very high alpine people today... The fact that he actually is a pilot may have something to do with it, mind you.
Look at that! And beat that for anyone wanting to see the Dolomites from up high...
... Or from up close!
... Or from up... Euhm... Fast! Very old Cessna, very new engine, the Italians said. We trust their word on it.
And to end a very high Dolomite day, tour guide Michael had set up a very... High dinner! We could have had Mohamed fly us up the mountain to Oberbolzen, but the cable car worked perfectly as well. (They say the Swiss built it... Maybe just as well.)
And well... When you talk about dinner with a view, Oberbolzen had it all. What a sight!
Riding Day 2 - Lienz to Bolzano, Benvenuti in Italia!
We said this tour was going "very high" alpine, right? So leaving Lienz in the morning, no riding through the valleys for our group. Björn and Wim took their groups up on the tiny little backroads high up in the mountains. The reward?
Well... This! What a view! And the hills were alive... With the sound of... Euhm... Engines!
And it just went on and on after every corner... Until...
... we reached Italy! Here's how a Brazilian invasion into Italy looks.
And well... It wouldn't be Italy if it didn't look all pretty, right? As a first stop after the border, Lago Misurina really lived up to its Italian reputation of pretty things to see.
Looks even better with a bit of bikes in front of it, don't you think?
Next up was Passo Falzarego. And the good thing is: on the top of that pass starts... Another one! Passo Valparola it was, and guess who we found on top of that? A private Edelweiss chef preparing a picnic!
And well... Our Edelweiss-chef Michael sure knows how to pick a nice spot for lunch.
After a nice lunch, time to head back down into the valley and go and see Bolzano. But hang on, a little picture stop on the way down outside Kastelruth was well worth it. What a wonderful riding day again. All that awaits now is a nice cold beer and a refreshing dip in the swimming pool. Benvenuti in Italia!
Riding Day 1 - Erding to Lienz
One hour into the tour, and let's be honest: not very high alpine yet... But it is starting to look pretty pretty in Wasserburg am Inn...
And a little thought goes out from tourguides Björn and Wim to a certain Michael Keller, driving the van today... Cheers Michael!
Not long afterwards, both groups arrived here: the very pretty Chiemsee, where it was time to grab our first coffee.
Coffee? Hang on, said Eric... They also have a strudel here, right?
On we went, and around about noon, tourguides Björn and Wim arrived here. Hm... Nice view over Pillersee, so what should we do?
Have a nice lunch is what we should do... Some brave guests from the garlic capital of the USA (yes, that exists) actually went for the proper bavarian garlic cream soup... People were seen all afternoon avoiding them by as much as possible. We wonder why...
We'll have to explain to the people at Pillersee where the water is supposed to go... Boat goes in water. Not the other way around.
Well... Our guests were starting to ask when that Very High Alpine stuff was kicking in. So in the afternoon, it was time to live up to our tour name. Here we are, first day of the tour, riding up the very highest mountain pass in Austria: Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse. What. A. View!
There are views. And then there are views. Sometimes you just stand there and wonder at the world. That's what we do on Edelweiss tours...
And then, at the end of it all, you end up in a place like this. 300 kilometres on the bike through the most amazing landscapes, and in the end the historic town centre of Lienz welcomes us with a view like this for dinner... It is a hard life, honestly. Watch this space for more scenery tomorrow, when we head straight into motorcycle playground... The Dolomites!
Arrival Day in Erding
See that? Edelweiss Bike Travel is in town! Many enthusiastic bikers from three corners of the world, USA, Brazil and the Middle East are arriving in our start hotel in Erding. Sounds promising...
Everybody listening closely
Three tour guides, two from Germany and one from Belgium, were preparing the week, and decided to rename this High Alpine Tour into... VERY High Alpine Tour. We're going high up! Starting tomorrow already with one of the highest: Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse. Can't wait!
But even when preparing a tour start, Tour Guides need to take a 45 minute break to watch their heroes at work... Come on Valentino!