(6/15/07 - 7/1/07)
On this page are pictures and descriptions from 6/15/07 - 6/20/07. These are mostly pictures of Switzerland (on motorcycles). Click on any picture or panorama for an ENORMOUS version. Click here to go to the homepage and get a description of what this is all about.
(Read a personal description of Backblaze here.)
I arrived into Munich, Germany the afternoon of Saturday, 6/16/07. Below is a picture inside the Munich airport leading towards baggage claim.
On these tours, the guides pick you up at the airport in a van and take you to the hotel. (You don't get a motorcycle until the next day, so you can get over jet-lag.) Here we are driving in the van leaving the Munich airport to go to Olching, which is a smaller town on the outskirts of Munich with the hotel. Gretchen Moss (driving on the left) and Jake Beach (with ice cream cone) picked me up. I knew Gretchen before this trip from a trip a year ago.
Below are Darryl Payne, Charles Inman (in the red shirt), and Simone Boult. We are "checking out" our motorcycles, where we notice any dings or scratches and write them down on the rental form. At the end of the trip, if there is any additional motorcycle damage we are responsible for the cost of repairing it.
The fleet of motorcycles parked in the garage.
Here is the motorcycle I drove for the next two weeks. It is a 2006 BMW R1150R. All the motorcycles are less than 2 years old. You can choose from several choices of motorcycles, this one was a change from the previous year (when I drove a BMW R1200GS). This bike was a little sportier, more nimble on the small roads, but less capable doing any the "off-road bumpy gravel" routes. Overall I really enjoyed riding this bike this trip.
Below is Al Walker and Noah Orlen going over the motorcycles together. Al is one of the tour guides, Noah is on the tour like me.
Graham Beker and Donna Beker are in the picture below. Graham was a tour guide and mechanic on the very first european motorcycle tour I took in 1999, but has since returned as a CUSTOMER several times to the same tour! Donna usually rides her own motorcycle, but injured her hand right before this trip and so was riding on the back with Graham. The amount of return business this particular tour group gets and their customer loyalty is just about the biggest endorsement for "Beach's Motorcycle Adventures" you can get.
The next few pictures are at the very first dinner, and are a roster of who was on the trip. From left to right below are: Richard Stearns (tour guide), Marilyn Columb and Denis Columb (I met them on a previous tour), Larry Troutman and Sally Ann Troutman who were on their 10th motorcycle tour but I had not met before.
Along the wall from left to right are: Dave Henderson and Sue Henderson, Leslie Cleverly (on her 5th tour, and I know Leslie from several of those previous tours), Sue Boyd and Neil Boyd, and Al Walker (tour guide and mechanic) at the end of the table in the yellow shirt.
Standing is Rob Beach, the owner of the tour company "Beach's Motorcycle Adventures" (the tour we are on). From left to right on the far side of the table is Debra DiBiase and Tony DiBiase, Noah Orlen, Rajah Rodgers, Darryl Payne and Simone Boult (I met them on a previous tour).
At the far side of the close table from left to right is: Frederic (Rick) Brandt, Alex Melnyk, and Robert McWilliams. At the end of that side of the table in the white shirt is Donna Beker, and Graham Beker is at the head of the table.
For some reason at this particular dinner I didn't get pictures of Steve Rout and Jane Rout, so here they are (from a different part of the trip):
Also Charles Innman:
Also missing are Jake (Rob Beach's son) and Gretchen (both acting as guides and tour help).
The next morning of 6/18/07 (Monday), I got up and went for my first warm up motorcycle ride through the Alps. I traveled alone this day. I headed off south to an area I had been to 3 years earlier, actually all the way into Austria. The first picture below is one that I ran into a closed road and had to detour. The picture below is taken while sitting on the motorcycle, so you can see the GPS in the picture.
Below is a picture of the typical German countryside I was driving through.
Passing over the border into Austria. In the old days (before the European Economic Community) these border crossings would involve passport checks, but now all of Europe is essentially one country (except Switzerland) with open borders. You can drive through from Germany into Austria without even stopping and nobody is at the abandoned border crossing stations anymore.
I stopped for cappuccino in Austria overlooking a fabulous view of a valley.
A panorama from that same balcony without the cappuccino in the foreground. :-)
Continuing on, this picture is a little washed out (taken towards the sun) but shows a scenic little waterfall and bridge on the roads I am exploring this day.
Below I'm on the main destination road for the day, it is a little road through a ski area in Austria I had been on 3 years earlier. In the panorama below you can see the ski lift. This is outside the city of Zell am Ziller in Austria.
Another picture of this area, overlooking the Austrian valley below.
Happy Austrian cows on steep slopes by the side of the road.
Same cows as picture above, just a closer picture to show the valley in the distance.
Later in the day I pass back into Germany. The sign says "Republic of Deutschland", where "Deutschland" is what the Germans actually call Germany. It is kind of funny how we make up random other names for countries when THEIR name is perfectly reasonable. :-)
Below is a typical scene, it's one of the ten thousand reasons you have to be very alert while riding motorcycles in Europe. These cows were just hanging out on the road.
I came upon this one lane tunnel below, and remembered I had been here before. Click Here to see a picture from 2004 of the same tunnel.
Closeup of the tunnel.
The following is a movie of traveling through the one lane tunnel. To get a higher quality version FOR WINDOWS ONLY, click here. The link below takes you to to a YouTube version for maximum compatibility and lower bandwidth.
The next morning of 6/19/07 (Tuesday), we drove the motorcycles through Europe to the next destination of Imst, Austria. I drove alone most of this day. Below is a little tiny road through some RANDOM area of Germany that the GPS route took me. It is optionally available from the tour to rent a GPS with a bunch of interesting routes preprogrammed into it for motorcycling through Europe, and I was trying out this feature. It was pretty fun, I would never have taken these little roads (look at how the motorcycle completely blocks the entire width of the two way road I'm on!)
If you look closely in the picture below, there are a bunch of paragliders swirling around in the air above this hill.
A close up of a couple of those paragliders.
A random pretty valley I'm descending into along this scenic road.
Going up a mountain pass somewhere in Austria or Germany, there were HUNDREDS of horses milling about, here are a couple in the road in front of me. You can see more off in the distance.
Another shot of some horses in the road.
The sign below was new this year around Austria, I had not seen it before. It is a warning to motorcyclists to be careful. It says "Albtraum Strasse", and I don't know what that means, but judging by the blood everywhere and the motorcycle helmet and glove laying a hundred meters from the trashed motorcycle, it probably isn't good. NEW Update on 8/1/07-> a German speaker emailed me and explained:
"Alp Traum Strasse" means Alp Dream Road. It 's a "double
entendre", a statement with double meaning. Like, "hey this is a
really beautiful road, the kind you may just dream of, but don't you fall
asleep while admiring it (i.e. keep your eyes on the road and do the
admiring while standing still). -- Stev Kok
A closeup of the "Albtraum Strasse" (Albtraum Straße) sign. Ewww!
The next couple pictures are taken on the Hahntennjoch Pass, which is a great example of a European mountain pass. Notice the tunnel, and the guard rail made out of half-rounds of wood, and the extreme drop off on the right.
On the Hahntennjoch Pass, I was passed by a few members of my tour group and took this picture of them riding along.
I caught up with them at the top of the Hahntennjoch Pass. That is Steve Rout sitting without a helmet on his motorcycle in the center. Denis Columb on the far right facing the camera.
The top of the Hahntennjoch Pass, I have no idea what that sign
says. :-) Update August 2008: a helpful reader from Germany wrote to
me saying the sign says "Attention! During thunderstorms high "MUREN"-danger.
Muren means that too much rain flushes down stones and ground, because there are
no trees. So if it rained one day you should be cautious on those streets, maybe
even the next day, so that you dont drive into those rocks." Thanks
The next morning of 6/20/07 (Wednesday), we drove the motorcycles through Europe from Imst to the next destination of Feldkirch, Austria. Below are the motorcycles lined up at the hotel in the morning before the ride. On the far left is Rob Beach's "Red Devil" motorcycle (with all the stickers on the saddle bags), and that is Al Walker and Leslie in the middle.
Al and Richard (both tour guides) on the left. In the mornings they are up before anybody else making sure the motorcycles are ready and in this case are installing a GPS on one motorcycle.
Every morning, breakfast is a continental buffet. Riders show up anytime they like, and depart on their own schedule. But in general around 8am all the riders will see each other around the breakfast table. Below is a picture of many of the tour this morning.
My motorcycle in front of a cliff drop off with scenic Austrian hills behind it.
An example of the roads we drive through all day long (scroll to the right to see more).
A little before noon, Charles (standing on the far left in helmet) and I ran into the "end of the road" here. The GPS route marks this bridge as the path, but it is destroyed, so we will have to figure out a new route. You an see a big landslide covering the road on the far side.
I believe this is the "Silvretta Strasse", which is a toll road in Austria. I came upon these small (pygmy?) horses. The other motorcyclists also found them interesting.
Another picture of the horses.
The following is a movie of the pygmy horses on Silvretta Strasse in Austria. To get a higher quality version FOR WINDOWS ONLY, click here. The link below takes you to to a YouTube version for maximum compatibility and lower bandwidth.
A sign near to the top of Silvretta Strasse.
A panorama at the top of Silvretta Strasse mountain pass in Austria.
Going down the other side, here is the type of pretty mountain road I'm driving on all day long on my motorcycle.
I took some video using the same camera I took all the still pictures on this web page with (Canon PowerShot SD700IS). I mount the camera on my helmet using a tripod and some electrical tape. :-) Below is the official helmet cam tripod setup (without the camera).
Here I am in the motorcycle mirror, taking a picture with the camera mounted on the tripod.
Same picture, but this time while WEARING the helmet camera, so you can see the position of the camera in relation to the helmet and my face. The camera is positioned carefully so I can see the preview window on the back of the camera to get the shots lined up correctly. The tripod lets me adjust the tilt of the shot as I'm driving down the road if I need to.
The following is a movie of driving motorcycles on the Silvretta Strasse in Austria (and also some footage from later in the day on a different set of roads). It is about 10 minutes long and NOT THAT INTERESTING (especially to non-motorcyclists). To get a higher quality version FOR WINDOWS ONLY, click here. The link below takes you to to a YouTube version for maximum compatibility and lower bandwidth.
Random pretty road above "Au" (a town in Austria).
Below is the "Furkajoch Pass" in Austria.
Top of the Furkajoch.
On a small road right above Feldkirch, Austria, at a little stop with a bench to overlook the valley. I'm on a tiny little road the GPS route put me on if I had time at the end of the day.
The next morning of 6/21/07 (Thursday), we drove the motorcycles through Europe from Feldkirch, Austria to the next destination of Interlaken, Switzerland. Click the link below to go on to see the next set of pictures.
(Read a personal description of Backblaze here.)
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