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Trip Report: Gelati al Lago (June 2008)

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    • Trip Report: Gelati al Lago (June 2008)

      Gelati al lago

      Recently, it was time again for letting my trusted iron horse run some distance:
      On my personal list of passes within the Alps, the checkmarks for San Bernardino and Nufenen were still missing. And how about combining this with an ice cream in some mediterranean setting like at the shores of Lago Maggiore?

      The idea was born, routes and waypoints planned accordingly and a title found for this report (gelati al lago => ice cream at the lake). Only thing remaining to do was to get up early to make ends meet.

      Mounted the ride on 4:30 am and got out on the open road towards Ulm. Jumped onto Autobahn A7/A96 for a dash into Bregenz, which marks the end of the Autobahn for the day. I’m not going to pay for not having fun on the road (Switzerland and Austria have a toll system for their freeways)
      Shortly after 6 am in Bregenz at Lake Constance, it is still a bit hazy and the mountains are covered with clouds.
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_01.jpg]

      The following 50 km through the Principality of Liechtenstein are of the boring type of roads. It started to rain a bit but not enough to require gearing up.

      Some nice deviation from the boring road through the valley of the upper River Rhine can be found when taking the shortcut over Luziesteig, a ancient fortification at the border of Liechtenstein to Switzerland
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_03.jpg]

      During another trip in this area, looking for fuel had taken quite a bunch of fun from the tour. I simply waited too long to refuel and had to take it slow (in interesting scenery). So this time, I refueled in Thusis making sure the switchbacks and curves through the „Via Mala“ (translates to „bad road“, the passage through this tight gorge was very dangerous in the old days…) can be enjoyed without distraction. Btw, the water flowing down in the gorge still is the River Rhine…
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_05.jpg]
      Following the winding roads quickly lead up to the Rofla-Dam, where the Rhine is allowed to contribute to the generation of electricity.
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_07.jpg]

      I have been to San Bernardino several times; on family vacation in a cage. But my roller-coaster-proof sons have a somewhat sensible stomach when in a car...but this time, it’s up to me! Did I write that the street is empty? Meaning really empty?
      So, let’s get up there to the San Bernardino!
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_08.jpg]

      At the summit, the patron of the ancient San Bernardino hospice is preparing the sunshades for the day. But at 10 am, there will be no guests for quite some time.
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_14.jpg]
      Continuing south, I pass Pian San Giacomo and Bellinzona going down until the village of Vira at the shore of Lago Maggiore, where I have my well earned Italian ice cream. Vira and the surroundings, despite the fact of being swiss, have that Italian flair, that draws the masses of middle-european tourists to travel south all summer.
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_22.jpg]
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_25.jpg]
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_27.jpg]

      Way before noon and already on the way back? Right, but there is much more to come...

      Riding back north passing the city of Airolo the junction to St. Gotthard Pass (hey, should I ride the old Tremola road once again? 10 km of cobblestone with many switchbacks propose much fun..... but: "plan the flight - fly the plan") I follow the Bedretto valley leading to Nufenen Pass. The road is completely empty and the „brick“ is flying as it should.
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_36.jpg]
      Passing some huge piles of snowpack still on the road’s shoulders on the way up to Nufenen, there’s no surprise that it’s still really cold up there. So I do not stay for too long and continue down into the village of Ulrichen, where I turn right towards Gletsch, the junction of Furka Pass and Grimsel Pass. Gletsch also is the western end of the Furka cog railway. That section is also part of the “Glacier Express” leading from St. Moritz to Zermatt via a couple of Switzerland’s most spectacular passes.
      Looking down on the intersection of Furka and Grimsel:
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_39.jpg]
      Furka Pass, with the remains of the Rhone glacier to the left. I had seen that glacier 20 years ago and the amount of ice that has gone since then is dramatic…
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_40.jpg]
      Following the south ramp up to Grimsel Pass, did I really already write that the streets are completely empty? Time for FlyingBrick again…

      On Grimsel summit, the view due southeast points to Furka Pass, where the weather still looks bright.
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_44.jpg]
      Whereas, due north clouds start to roll in.
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_46.jpg]
      As could be expected, the entire distance until over Susten Pass, it stays cloudy but dry.
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_47.jpg]
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_49.jpg]
      Likely as compensation for cloudy skies, the road is mine. All mine!


      Dropping down towards Lake Lucerne, it starts warming up again.
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_51.jpg]

      Since it’s becoming a bit late, I follow the single track Pragel Pass and follow curvy swiss backroads towards Lake Constance again. The landscape reminds of a kitchy model train track.. For not having to endure the surroundings of Bregenz again, I opted for the ferry crossing the lake from Konstanz to Meersburg..
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_56.jpg]
      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_54.jpg]

      The iron horse must have smelled the barn:
      Shortly after 10 pm, the trusty steed is parked at it’s usual place; its exhaust sizzling contently.

      [Blocked Image: http://home.arcor.de/pk_frank/pics/20080627_LagoM/lagom_57.jpg]

      17 hours on the road,
      930 km and
      11000 m altitude covered,
      grinning from ear to ear…

      ... that’s how a ride has to be!

      concludes
      Klaus
    • Re: Trip Report: Gelati al Lago (June 2008)

      Klaus,
      That was gracious of you to share a fine trip with us, were you alone on this trip? Your pictures indicated this.
      Lovely roads and scenery but a bit cold I would think. Have you heated bars? I wear gloves with an element in them powered by batteries, heated bars didn't do the trick for me. (on previous bikes) The back of my hands were frozen.
      With plastic bar covers (as fitted) this kept them just warm.
      Again thanks for the write up with pictures, it will be appreciated by many I am sure.
      Ajays
    • Re: Trip Report: Gelati al Lago (June 2008)

      Klaus,
      Thanks, an excellent venture!
      This is what its all about the open road, wish I had been there, did the altitude affect the engine, what kind of mpg/km/litres did the bike return?

      The nearest we have to this kind of scenery is the English Lake District or Western Scotland on the mainland, but less altitude and less ice and snow, but nevertheless beautiful.

      How much did a trip like that cost you in tolls and fuel?

      I always remember a journalist in "Bike" Magazine, writing an article called "A Quick One at Dawn", where he took a BMW Boxer tourer, in the mid 70s, down the ancient Roman Road known as the "Fosse" Way, Latin for "ditch". It runs from Exeter in the south-west of England to Lincoln in the East Midlands, intersecting other famous Roman roads, such as Watling Street and joins Ermine Street at Lincoln, its 182 miles long; but unlike your route the Fosse Way is "straight as a bow shot", but passes through a really Ancient landscape in many places, with adjacent Iron-Age remains. He description of the journey was very illustrative and made me yearn for the open road.

      At one times the roads in Britain were yours before 7am, now it is no longer true you have to be out at first light and prepared to share with others anytime after 6 am!

      Sadly, that kind of freedom has almost gone with speed cameras, " Cash cows", popping up all over Britain and in the most unlikely places, one loss of concentration and it can be 3 points on youtr licence, plus a hefty fine, but as yet very few toll roads for now!


      Cheers

      JBW
    • Re: Trip Report: Gelati al Lago (June 2008)

      Hi JBW,

      the K takes 50 mpg on average (i.e. 4.7 l/100km). This will decline at freeway speeds (~ 100 mph) to around 44 mpg. On the other hand, surfing alpine backroads is much fun for 59 mpg.

      There is no toll road on my trip. German freeways (just used for the first leg to interesting terrain) are still at no charge for cars and bikes. Austrian and swiss freeways are toll roads, but I do not use them - I don't pay for not having fun...
      Some of the passes are private roads and they collect fees. For example, Silvretta, Timmelsjoch and Großglockner, to name some well-known examples. None of these were on my list at this trip.
      So for cost, it's just the fuel for ~900km. Fuel price in Germany around 1,25€/l, in Switzerland 1,65CHF/l. So it's wise to fill up in Switzerland...
      So, total cost for that trip: 45,-€ for fuel plus 25,-€ (1/8th of a tire set) and don't forget the ice cream... :oops:

      There are some more of my trip reports in the german section. I just translated this one to english for a friend in Boston some time ago. Maybe I'll come around and move these to english too. Some bad weather might rise the chance...

      Klaus

      ... ride hard or stay home ...
      ("Blade" in "Wild Hogs")
    • Re: Trip Report: Gelati al Lago (June 2008)

      Thanks, Klaus. The description was nearly as good as the images. Breathtaking!

      Years ago, my wife, family and I were in Germany and drove through Austria, Liechtenstein (the whole thing) and Switzerland on our way back to Frankfurt and flight home. I really wanted to ascend a pass in the Alps like the ones on your trip, but the 'schedule wouldn't allow it'. Regrets!

      I wonder how I'd be able to work "motorcycle time" into a future trip to Europe.

      How difficult (or expensive) is it to rent a motorcycle? Is this even a possibility in Germany, UK, or elsewhere in Europa?

      Just making me jealous (but happy for you) since we're still buried in snow.

      Again, thanks.

      Bob
    • Re: Trip Report: Gelati al Lago (June 2008)

      "bobgass64" wrote:

      How difficult (or expensive) is it to rent a motorcycle? Is this even a possibility in Germany, UK, or elsewhere in Europa?


      It's possible, for example here (no afiliation, just one of the first that googled to the surface and is showing price info ...)
      Reservation prior to the trip is indicated.


      regards,
      Klaus