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When Alps are not just Alps, but Alps Deluxe ! RTV2201

Sunday, June 26, 2022 | Wim Doms / Gregor Schütz | Europe

Meet our glorious 11, all from the United States (well, putting aside a few very German and Italian sounding names) conquering the Alps... Deluxe style

The day before: a visit to the intriguing history of Innsbruck

Arriving one day early for a motorcycle tour through the Alps to get on a train may seem like a bit of an odd idea. But the Mittenwaldbahn connecting our home base in Seefeld to Innsbruck main station is not exactly your every day commute...
Innsbruck... where 6 of our wonderful guests decide that one perfect coffee or cappuccino is just not enough. So you know what? We'll just have two! This is Deluxe, right?
Image may be a bit blurry after climbing well over 150 steps... But Michelle is still looking very happy after climbing all the way up.
Her husband Jeffrey is looking slightly more serious... But there may be a good reason for that.
And here is that reason... worth climbing a few extra stairs to have this view over Innsbruck, no? See that Bergisel skijump back there? That's where we're going next, after lunch.
Meet Andreas Hofer. For the next few days, we will be riding through the lands and regions which have made him the Tyrolean legend he still is today.
Fair enough, the weather and clouds over Innsbruck's Nordkette mountains didn't allow us to go much higher up on the other side of the city, but the view from here wasn't exactly horrible.
... which is exactly what the daredevil ski-jumpers think, every time they are up there.

Day 1 - Welcome everyone!

After bringing 6 of our early guests back up the mountain to Seefeld, all of a sudden things looked a whole lot more Edelweiss-y at our hotel up in the cosy little mountain town.
Tourguide Wim during the Welcome Briefing where you learn everything about the tour
Rest assured... he was not just talking to himself

Day 2 - Up and over the mountains into Bella Italia

Well, it took him just one (1!) mountain pass, but on top of Timmelsjoch, leaving Austria for Italy, Andrew already wanted a bigger bike. And found one. Wasn't quite as fast as his compact and agile Ducati on this tour, but still...
Not a massive amount of pictures from this first riding day, as it turned out to be a little longer and challenging than expected... Oh well, said Jeff and Michelle, while our guide figures out a new route to detour the closed Mendola Pass (why do they close it for cyclists and not for bikers, anyway?) we may as well have a friendly chat with the locals.
Longer than expected, more challenging, detours, blistering heat riding into Bolzano... Wait a minute, said some of our guests: this is still Deluxe, right? And, well, after arriving at our hotel right in the middle of the capital of South Tyrol, we judged it actually still is quite luxury.

Day 3 - It's Dolomite Day baby!

As weather in Bolzano was already wonderful and sunny from the word go, quick morning briefing was done right by the bikes.
First picture stop in the morning, and camera's were clicking away...
...not so difficult to understand why
Riding in the Dolomites under crystal clear blue skies. Does anything ever really beat that?
Well, riding in the Dolomites under crystal clear blue skies... through sensational corners, THAT beats it.
And boy... corners we got to see!
We were just glad we had the right means of transport (and in this case, the right direction... brave man on the right there).
But even when not on a bicycle, all those corners make you work up an appetite. And we hear that at this wonderful place on top of Passo Cereda, something can be done about that.
Yup! (oh, and this was only the starter... a magic local polenta-dish was to follow). More than enough to really not need any strudel for dessert. Which we then had anyway. Deluxe, you know...
Dolomiti wonderland...
Last stop in a true hidden corner of the Dolomites, where coffee was soon replaced with ice cold drinks. HOT day !
After two days of relentless mountain riding, how better to celebrate than with a boot beer... AND an official Timmelsjoch passroad-sticker to end the first two days on the road with Tourguide Wim, who will now be switching to Van-mode. Richard immediately used that sticker to officialize his Alpine on-the-road water bottle
Andy, meanwhile, had his priorities. Beer first. Stickers later. Tourguide did not disagree.
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Some local wildlife also attented bootbeer. Well, bootnectar, in his case.

Day 4 - Prosecco, grapes, views, and Italian history

A historic moment in a historic monastery square: tourguide Gregor's very first official morning briefing ! (Seems he immediately started to explain how big something is... or maybe how narrow some of today's roads would be)
Straight out of the hotel, a very ambitious local thought he would fit right into our group. He was about 120-odd horsepower short, but still gave it a good try.
Gregor may be out on his very first day, but he doesn't muck around when he brings our group to his first view-stop. WOW!
And he clearly also knows where to find some corners around these parts.
Before dinner, time to go visit the magical old town of Bassano del Grappa. True Italian atmosphere, just soaking in history.
Andrew found one of Europe's oldest grappa-shops, literally IN the old bridge over the Brenta river, and immediately had an idea... A tourguide was thinking "oh oh... grappa even beFORE dinner..." Thanks Andrew, it DID taste delicious!
And how else to end a visit to a true Italian city than with THE ultimate Italian before-dinner-drink: Aperol-time for Mike and Andy!
Well... we say for Mike and Andy... Aperol-time for everyone! Cheers guys! Just make sure you don't start to see pink elephants or chrome rhinos anywhere...
Our words were not even 2 minutes old...

Day 5 - Passes, passes and euhm... more passes ! Verona here we come

Pink elephants and chrome rhinos flew away overnight, and even if we apparently did wake up in 1976 (or do we call it vintage?) the funky briefing room welcomed everyone for today's explanations.
And off they go. About 14 minutes of straight roads await, and then there will be nothing but corners again. All. Day. Long.
Some serious curve riding by Andy !
Michelle and Jeffrey doing a great job on the BMW 1250RT on these winding roads + you can see Venice in the background (with a little bit of imagination, really, it IS down there )
Arrived at our restday location, just outside of Verona !
And we have a feeling there might be a bit of wine tasting coming up... Valpolicella wines are made right here in the Agriturismo where we stay. So we figured it was important to get to know the place

Day 6 - Time for some other things... deluxe style

Restday! Time to step away from our faithful motorcycles, tucked away on top of the hill. And boy did our group indulge in doing other things. Shopping in Verona, out for a walk to a fabulous trattoria for some (deluxe, of course) pizza, going to Venice for an all-day visit, heading out to an exclusive testdrive of a brand new electric motorbike, just sitting out in the vineyards reading a good book and - yes, true story - even getting stuck in a roadblock watching a truck burn down to the ground.... it was ALL done on this extremely diverse, deluxe restday. Oh and then there was that swimming p... oh no, we're not mentioning the pool, right?
A little part of our group snuck away and went for a Energica testride. Andrew tested the Energica Eva Ribelle with 220 NM torque and 167 HP (0-60 in 2.4 sec!). That's just about the time in which Andrew made a grappa disappear earlier on this tour.
Baker did a testride on the all electric Energica Esse Esse during a presentation of the new Energica Experia, a Green Tourer
Oh and did we mention that, for the rest of the group who were not out riding on shiny new electric bikes, there may have been a few of these involved on restday?
Late afternoon (when it would get cooler... as in just below ridiculously steaming hot) time to all meet up "downstairs" in the magical old city of Verona
Truly historical...
Also historical, in a very different way
And even more historical: the famous amphitheatre dating back to Roman times (we have a slight suspicion an opera or play with Egyptian scenes in it is coming soon...)
By the way, is it just us, or is Jacob (with his very Italian sounding surname) blending in more and more with the hip & trendy looking locals?
One last picture stop at... how could we not... the one and only, very real Juliet's balcony. Which, obviously, is just as fictional as Juliet herself. Makes us wonder though, dear Mike: how come her boobs are so shiny?
Absolutely authentic, Italian summer's atmosphere. In which we found our little hidden trattoria for yet another exquisite... and deluxe... dinner.
And finally our restday comes to an inspiring end. Night views over Verona... how magical!
No. Words. Needed.

Day 7 - Let's go see the lake!

Quick little stop of our big bus at Ducati Verona to go and pick up a brake lever... Nothing major happened, was fixed in a heartbeat
Whole group a the Bocca di Navene with Lake Garda in the background. Notice the nice Harley on the left. And notice how close Mike is standing next to it...
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Bocca die Navene: stunning view of the lake Garda
A few hours later, Lake Garda was, literally, at our doorstep. Parasols most welcome though... the heat started to become very Italian!
nice lineup on the ferry boat from Torri del Benaco to Riviera Gardone
Shawn, RJ, Gregor and Jeffrey enjoy the breeze on the ferry to Gardone Riviera
Ferryboat from Torri del Benaco to Gardone Riviera to cross Lake Garda in a mere 30 minutes
This afternoon, Richard and Jacob went off for a private ride on their own. Turns out they went to visit the wine estate just north of Lake Garda... belonging to their relatives and still bearing the family name. And what's more: after dinner they invited the whole group up to their hotel room to have a little talk about their day and... to offer a bottle of the family wine to everyone in the group ! (That night, a few tourguides quietly sent a note to the Edelweiss workshop to not worry about case mountings on those F 900 XR's... they can clearly handle heavyweight transport
The family wine from our tour members! Thank you so much, Richard and Jacob! This one we'll save and enjoy at a special occasion with true friends later this year, and our thoughts will be with you guys! Wonderful souvenir!

Day 8 - The one with the thousand (yes, just about!) corners to Bormio

Gargnano and Lake Garda: dream team with 886 curves and 1233 water depth
Group-picture! (again...) at a beautiful lake in the lombardian mountains near Gargnano
Passo Croce Domini at its best
Shawn seems to be happy On the Croce Domini with its awesome single lane roads and hundreds of switchbacks, Shawn was his usual quiet self. But boy does he OWN this picture!
Pass sign Croce Domini
awesome desert at the Miramonti Park Hotel Bormio

Day 9 - Back to home base.... with a BANG! Bang being Stelvio

Last daily briefing in beautiful Bormio, and for this awesome last riding day, a Belgian tourguide has switched back from Van into Bike mode. The perfect occasion also to thank Gregor for his very first multi-day stint on the bike. He passed that test with flying colours!
Bormio waved us goodbye with the standard sky setting on this tour. Blue, always blue, and then some more blue.
Blue, we said. And on Passo Umbrail, our group saw just that. Well, blue, and green.
Randall just has a moment to let it all sink in.
A morning loop in and out of Switzerland provided us with some absolutely amazing - and very strictly speed-limited - riding, and then something unique happened on Alps Deluxe... After hearing so much about the man, the legend (from our guides, but also from our most experienced Edelweiss-tour-guest Richard), our riding group decided they wanted to trade the typical Deluxe 3-course lunch for a longer stay on top of Stelvio pass, and - true bikers as they are - for the world-famous Würstl at Bruno's! Well... it was still Deluxe, so everybody went for the venison-saucage, of course. Over an hour at the top of the world. The T-shirt and sticker vendors will remember us
Mike and Andy go hot dog-deluxe!
And then Mike became his very own version of Photo Stelvio, taking pictures of brave cyclists who made it up there (and pointing out to them that they really should go and visit Bruno after that kind of effort
Honestly, this picture says it all. Absolute mayhem and glorious hectica, but boy did we fit right in up there! An absolute highlight for this Alps Deluxe, and what a blast to hang out there and soak up the atmosphere.
Our tour on the map, 1600 km of pure fun. And yes, about 20 of them were on a straight road. Maybe.
And here we are, one very last time. At the very place where all this magic was born: Edelweiss' headquarters in the little mountain village of Mieming. No better place for a fitting end to this magical Alps Deluxe!

Day 10 - Epilogue...

There really is no way to sum up in words all the experiences, moments, memories, laughs, conversations, lunches, dinners, Aperol's, curves, switchbacks, brake levers (, burning trucks, wine bottles, temperatures, ferry rides, motorcycles, grappa's, coffees, cappucinos, handshakes, fuelstops (well, clusterf*cks) and - well sorry to them - panicking waiters this Alps Deluxe tour has brought us. So we will not even try.

But trust us when a German and a Belgian tourguide named Gregor and Wim just want to express their gratitude and respect to - in random order of appearance - Richard and Jacob (your OWN wine, wow!), Jeffrey and Michelle (2-up on battleship 1250, well done!), Baker and Andrew (growling Ducati precision, both father and son alike!), Mike and Andy (20 years it took you, but finally here!), Randall (Harald was right on the riding school: you DID do great!), Shawn (the quiet man in the back, but SO confident on his GS) and Holger (forever the epicurist enjoying life and always, always the most smartly dressed!). 

All of you made this tour a truly memorable one. And to end in Top Gun theme... Come back! All of you can be our wingman anytime! 

Or... wait... Words may not be able to provide a fitting end, but an image can. And if one image sums up Alps Deluxe, it is this one. Amongst all that astonishing riding, sometimes all you have to do is just take a moment, be quiet, and take it all in. This very image, more than any corner or lean angle, is why this was Edelweiss Alps Deluxe 2022 : The Best Ride There Is! See you soon guys!
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