(6/15/07 - 7/1/07)
On this page are pictures and descriptions from 6/21/07 - 6/25/07. 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.)
On the morning of 6/21/07 (Thursday), we drove the motorcycles through Europe from Feldkirch, Austria to the next destination of Interlaken, Switzerland. Below people are getting ready for the day's ride, prepping gear and checking routes on maps and GPS.
That's Steve Rout on the far left, Graham in white shirt, Donna in back, Leslie in red, and Simone on the far right.
In the morning, the first pass I went over is the "Sattelegg Pass" in Switzerland. It isn't a huge pass, kind of a warm up for the rest of the day. I was standing in this spot about a year ago with my buddy Brian Beach, and it was raining and closed here. Here I am a year later, and it is STILL raining and closed. :-)
The next pass over in Switzerland is the tiny, hard to find "Pragel Pass". This is a fun little pass, the entrance is a one lane road not very well marked, and most of the pass is a THIN one lane strip of pavement not fit for a large car. Here is the top of the pass.
Descending the far side of Pragel Pass, I come to this landslide covering the road. I decide to go over it, it wasn't that bad and the rest of the road was clear all the way down. In these couple of days we were there, very hard rain caused all sorts of problems in Switzerland.
A random pretty valley somewhere in Switzerland. The weather isn't great, and rains off and on, but it's still a pretty ride (if a little slick on the roads which makes the going a little slower).
In Switzerland, a huge number of the mountain passes are "open range land", and the happy Swiss cows hang out on the road. Below I parked next to one of these cows and took a picture. The cow doesn't care at all, they are very used to cars and people.
I like the picture below showing the curvy motorcycle road in Switzerland dotted with cows. There aren't any fences on this section of road, so the cows just meander around on the roads. The two most important implications are that the cows present HUGE obstacles you need to avoid on a motorcycle, and that the cow poop on the roads can be slick and cause corners to be dangerous for motorcycles. Part of the European motorcycling experience. :-)
Random valley in Switzerland covered in low clouds.
You can see the motorcycle road dropping off in front of me and turning into a series of switchbacks in the center of the picture below.
Top of the Klausen Pass in Switzerland, a little wet and foggy on this day.
Here I am heading up the Susten Pass, Switzerland on my motorcycle. The Susten Pass is a big majestic pass, unfortunately it's a little cloudy so you can't see much of it. Notice the steep drop to the left of the "guard rail" which is a pipe.
Road construction on these mountain passes means they setup stop lights to allow one way alternating traffic. Here I am stopped behind another random motorcyclist waiting a few minutes for our turn through the construction zone. Look at the drop off to the right and the town a few thousand feet below!
Heading up the Susten Pass, Switzerland.
Coming down the far side of the Susten Pass, Switzerland, there is a series of tunnels on the road. It's very dramatic and pretty.
On the morning of 6/22/07 (Friday), the weather wasn't fabulous, so I got up late and did a light day driving the motorcycle through a couple small mountain passes outside of Interlaken, Switzerland. Below is a tunnel and bridge, somewhere in Switzerland. :-) The sign post says that I have "right of way" (the white arrow) and that the tunnel is 4 meters wide and therefore too thin for two cars to fit inside at the same time.
Random pretty road outside of Interlaken, Switzerland. The weather was drizzling off and on, so I headed back to the hotel.
The view from my hotel room overlooking Interlaken, Switzerland.
The view from my hotel room overlooking Interlaken, Switzerland. This picture taken leaning slightly out the window.
On the morning of 6/23/07 (Saturday), we drove the motorcycles from Interlaken, Switzerland to Andermatt, Switzerland. The route I chose is shown on the map below, driving over 8 or 9 mountain passes on my motorcycle in Switzerland in a single day. The day starts at "A" on the far left, and then goes through Beatenberg, Switzerland, then over through Brienz near "B", then over the Grimselpass at "C", then over the Nufenenpass at "D", then over the Saint Gotthardpass at "E", then over the Furkapass at "F", then back over the Grimselpass the reverse direction at "G", then over the Sustenpass at "H", then up the Oberalppass at "I", then back down into the final town where we stayed that night at "J" in Andermatt, Switzerland.
In the morning, climbing up above Interlaken, Switzerland, this is a small road through the town of Beatenberg, Switzerland that is very small and pretty.
A spot overlooking Interlaken, Switzerland.
On to the first big pass of the day, the Grimsel pass.
Some motorcyclists on Grimsel Pass, Switzerland.
The GPS I rented from the tour group stopped working, so I'm on my "backup GPS" (the one I brought from home). I didn't have the correct mounting parts, so I have electrical taped it to the OTHER GPS's mount. Yes, it looks hideous, but it actually worked great. :-)
Looking down the Grimsel Pass descent into the intersection of mountain roads near Gletsch, Switzerland. I'm about to drive down this set of switchbacks.
Same spot, but looking up more. The mountain on the upper left in the distance (with snow) is the Furkapass, which I will be coming down in a couple of hours after a big loop!
This is a set of switchbacks up Furkapass (I will come down these switchbacks in a few hours).
The motorcycle in front of the snow bank at the side of the road in Switzerland.
The picture below is taken at the same spot as the picture above, just facing out to see the switchback and the rest of the terrain. This is climbing up the Nufenen Pass.
At the top of the Nufenen Pass in Switzerland.
I'm about to head over the Saint Gothard Pass (San Gottardo Pass). I have driven the little "old road" before, so I'm choosing to do the new road just to get a few pictures of the "old road" from above.
Picture of the Swiss Valley below the Saint Gothard pass.
The road below is the OLD ROAD of the Saint Gothard Pass in Switzerland. I'm taking the picture from the new highway. Both roads are open for traffic.
Here I am at the top of Furkapass (point "F" on the map above).
Ok, now it is a few hours later, and I'm descending down Furkapass back to Gletsch, and I can see the roads I travelled before earlier in the day in the distance.
It's a beautiful day out here in Switzerland.
Now I'm going the REVERSE direction over the Grimsel Pass, and stopped to take this picture of the Murmeltier Park (small rodents). It might seem silly to a non-motorcyclist to drive figure 8s over Swiss mountain passes all day passing the same point, but this is truly the BEST motorcycling in the world and while here you want to hit as many of the mountain passes as you can. I have a big stupid grin on my face all day long as I hit Swiss mountain pass after pass.
Back up over the Susten Pass in the reverse direction from a couple days ago. This is that same set of tunnels I have a picture of above, but looking back the other way this time.
Getting late in the day, this is point "I" on the map above, the "Oberalp pass" right above the town of Andermatt, Switzerland.
Looking down at the town of Andermatt, Switzerland from above. This is where we are staying the night, it is a town at the cross roads of several famous mountain passes in Switzerland. See point "J" on the map above.
In the town of Andermatt, Switzerland, here we are après motorcycling. Graham Beker on the far left, that is Dave looking away, Donna facing the camera, and Steve Rout in the blue facing the camera.
Leslie and Simone looking over the map of what they drove today on their motorcycles.
Leslie on the left, Simone on the right.
Graham, Sue, and Steve.
On the morning of 6/24/07 (Sunday), we drove the motorcycles from Andermatt, Switzerland to Zuoz, Switzerland. We passed through Italy for a short way in the middle. Below shows the morning ritual of loading up the van with the luggage destined for the next hotel, then we leave on the motorcycles.
Graham Beker with Donna Beker on the back, leaving Andermatt, Switzerland.
Gretchen Moss packing up the motorcycle for the day's ride.
Below is a picture of Rob Beach, owner and guide for Beach's Motorcycle Adventures, about to leave Andermatt, Switzerland on a day of motorcycling. Rob has led 118 tours over the last 20 years on the most challenging motorcycle roads in the world under every condition imaginable. The mere fact that he is alive means the man pictured below is one of the very best motorcycle riders in the world. By "best" I don't mean "fastest" -> in this case I mean safest, good judgment, and ability to compensate for the shortcomings of road conditions and other drivers.
And after all those miles, Rob still goofs off for the camera. :-) That's Gretchen on the back of his motorcycle. The motorcycle is called "The Red Devil".
At the top of the San Bernardino Pass in Switzerland.
The friends I'm riding with this day taking a break, we're coming up on the Splugen Pass, although I'm not sure where this is taken.
Here is the main (short) street at the top of the Splugen Pass which is between Switzerland and Italy.
Steve Rout (in blue), Jane Rout (in yellow), and Al Walker in the red jacket.
Coming down the Italy side of the Splugen Pass in Italy, check out the vertical grade this set of switchbacks was built on.
Due to an accident, we got gridlocked on this road. This is a two way road, but you can see it is about one and a half car width's wide, and we (the motorcycles) are attempting to slide through in any spare space we can (with about 2 inches to spare on either side). The pedestrian there got out of her car to see what is going on. All in all, a pretty typical type of scene in Italy. :-)
The lake pictured below is in Silvaplana, Switzerland. Some of the wind surfers below are using kites (paraglider type rigs) to pull themselves along, and even up and out of the water.
The top of the Albula Pass in Switzerland. This is just above our final destination of Zuoz, Switzerland.
Steve Rout studying his map on the Abula Pass in Switzerland.
Steve and wife Jane.
That's me (Brian) with Steve Rout sitting on the motorcycle reading the map.
Al Walker, tour guide and mechanic for Beach's Alpine Adventures, on the Albula Pass in Switzerland.
Our hotel in Zuoz, Switzerland, as all the bikes come in for the day.
Ok, let's just step back a second and talk about Austrian bathrooms. Yes, Austrian bathrooms. The Austrians have developed an incredible fetish for immaculately clean, sparkling, beautiful bathrooms no matter where you go. You can stop in any random dive of a gas station in Austria, and when you step into the toilet it will be like stepping into a 5 star hotel room. Below are some pictures of the bathroom here in my hotel room in Zuoz, Switzerland which obviously borrowed an Austrian architect and plumber to come in and install this bathroom. First, the shower is pictured below. Many times Austrian showers will have curved sliding doors, which is a nice (slightly expensive) touch. The shower head is ADJUSTABLE IN HEIGHT which tall people like myself really appreciate. Notice also in this picture the toilet has two flush buttons -> one for a large flush, one for a small flush, because it is much more environmental. Of course, the toilet actually DOES WORK unlike the American "low flush" version which doesn't actually work and you need to use a plunger every time.
Closer view of the adjustable height shower head.
Sink area. That is a glass shelf below the mirror, and the tile extends on the floor, walls, and ceiling.
The brand of the sink is "Laufen".
Picture of the walls.
Close up of one tile in the walls.
On the morning of 6/25/07 (Monday), we drove the motorcycles from Zuoz, Switzerland to Trento, Italy. After riding for a week through the Alps, my left big toe I use to shift is getting a blister on the top (on motorcycles you put your big toe under the shifter lever and pull up to shift up). So here is the regular part in the trip where I "tape up" to prevent too much damage and so I can continue to do big long days on the motorcycle in comfort.
Here is Tony DiBiase with his rental motorcycle which he carefully chose. It is a BMW HP2 Enduro which Tony says he wanted to drive because it was so extravagant (it's an incredibly expensive dirt bike).
I think the picture below is of the Offen Pass in Switzerland.
A little later on I went over the Unbrail Pass in Switzerland.
Passing into Italy, on the up hill side into Stelvio Pass.
This is a picture looking back down the Stelvio Pass at what I just drove up.
At the top of Stelvio Pass, Italy, I caught up with a group of our motorcyclists, and drove a few miles with them down the road.
From left to right that is Simone, Leslie, Sue, and Donna discussing a modification to their route today to go up Motorola Pass. Picture taken at the top of Stelvio.
Down the far side of Stelvio Pass in Italy, this is a famous set of switchbacks. I'm about to ride my motorcycle down this set that you see and off into the distance to the right of the picture.
Here is a bunch of our motorcyclists really holding me up and slowing me down. :-) (That's just a little inside joke, actually I couldn't keep up with them except that they were held up by that traffic light.)
The back of Leslie's helmet says "You've just been passed by a girl."
A little later on, going up over the Gavia Pass, which is a scary little piece of Italian road way up in the Italian Alps. Very spectacular, worth riding, but a tiny thin single lane road (with two way traffic), no guard rail, and a vertical drop off the right that will give you a nose bleed.
Below me one switchback, you can see Leslie in the yellow motorcycle and red helmet leaning into the switchback turn.
On the Gavia Pass I wanted to try to capture why it is a bit scary. Look at where I parked the motorcycle on the side of the road, and look how far down it is, and realize there is no guard rail!
Holding the camera even more pointed down so you can see the steepness of the slope. If you miss a turn, it's the big LONG plunge 2,000 vertical feet down before you stop bouncing. And on this two way traffic single lane road, I'm driving on the OUTSIDE towards the drop off. :-)
The run out at the bottom of Gavia Pass when it gets a little less crazy.
Our riding group at lunch. From left to right around the table that is: Dave, Sue, Simone, Darryl, Leslie, Donna, and Graham in the red and black shirt.
This lunch spot is up on the Motorola Pass in Italy. Use your horizontal scrollbar to pan across to see the view.
A little way down the road on the Motorola Pass.
Our group and another group from our tour accidentally all found each other at the top of this pass, I think it is the Croce Dominii Pass. In back there is Rob Beach and son Jake (Jake is 14 years old and 6 foot 3 inches tall).
Rob and his son Jake.
Buzzing down the far side of Croce Dominii Pass, here is the group I'm riding with one switchback below me. On the far left is Leslie in red helmet and yellow bike, and the 5 motorcycles in front of her are our group.
That's Graham and Donna two up in front, and Simone in the yellow jacket entering the switchback. Not sure who the middle rider is, but it is probably Darryl (Simone's husband).
This is lake Lodrone in Italy, not far from Monte Bondone.
I came up the back of Monte Bondone, and then over the top and down the switchbacks into the town of Trento. The town of Vason is at the top of Monte Bondone, Italy.
A panorama of one of the switchbacks leading down into Trento, Italy off of Monte Bondone. Below is how it appears to me as I'm riding along on the motorcycle.
On the morning of 6/26/07 (Tuesday), we drove the motorcycles from Trento, Italy to Arabba, Italy. 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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