Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 4 – July 11, 2017 – Dervio to Cavalese

The Stelvio

Today was the day the 1090 decided it wasn't for me. I found two stationary ways to put the bike on its side. The saddle bags don't look as pretty as they used to. After stopping at a Decathlon to buy a folding chair I was walking the bike backward out of a parking spot, caught the side stand and tipped the bike over on the other side.

If you are a motorcycle rider, then the Stelvio says it all. This one of those passes that you have to ride. It certainly lived up to its name of multiple hairpin turns like one after the other. We actually had to stop and descend back down to get the best view of all the turns. This was when I put the foot stand down, got off the bike and the stand dug into the dirt and the bike was down on the other side. This trip is going to be more expensive than I planned.

Here is MacBean giving it some gas up the Stelvio.


Here are Rob and Martyn doing the same. I think Martyn pissed off the cyclist. He got really agitated later up the pass.
Lunch at the top of the pass was traditional sausage, bread and kraut.
The view on the downside was even more spectacular with hairpin after hairpin and few places to pass. The rest of the day was riding out to Calavese a beautiful little town in the alps. We got there fairly late and it was threatening to rain so we opted for a hotel, with a bar overlooking the valley and a restaurant for breakfast. Dinner in town was a non-event but we had the best local-gin and tonic when we got back to the bar.

One of the many churches in Cavalese

 

Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 3 – July 10, 2017 – Derivio to Bellagio to Dervio

Easy Day

The plan for today is an easy day. Macbean has gone deaf in one ear. Appantly this happens every year so h needs to head off to see a doctor. The interesting thing I learn is that there is now a European health card. Perhaps remembering my NHS number is no longer enough.

Breakfast is ham, cheese, and bread from the camp store and it is delicious. Proscut, old cheese, young bread, and Martyn's percolated coffee, although he has a fancy name.

Macbean stays behind to get his ear checked by a doctor who is also a dentist. 30 euros lighter, Mac can hear no better.

Rob, Martyn and I head off down winding road, through little villages, and faded glory. You can tell Como was once the place to be. Today, it clings to its pas glories. One of the places we passed was the Motoguzzi museum. Unfortunately, they didin't open until three which would be prime drinking time. The ride along the lake shore was beautiful and the scenery was amazing. Sheer cliffs rising from the waters edge with the road perched above the water.

 

We rounded the east leg of the lake in Lecco and stopped at a little cafe on the water for expressos and water. What a great way to spend a Monday morning. After the refresh, we headed north up the western shore of the lake to Bellagio. I guess that is where the casino got it's name. Martyn had brought Kate here for their 30th wedding anniversary a couple of years ago. I need to step up for ours.

Lunch was delicious grilled huge, grilled shrimp. They were more like baby lobsters in size. I don't think they were langostines. We enjoyed a non-alcoholic aperitif with lunch, similar to a Campari in tast. After lunch we took the ferry back across the lake to Varenna with a quick spring back up the coast road to Dervio to finish at camp.

After a swim in the lake, a storm broke and kicked up some large white caps. The boats moored nearby were being tossed around. We sat under our awning and waited out the storm. It became quite clear that my little camping stool is great for five minutes leaning over a stove to cook, it was not good for a couple of hours drinking beer.

Dinner was again beer, wine, and pizza. This time followed by a bout of heartburn. As much as I love it, pizza does not agree with me two days in a row. Dinner was topped off at the campsite bar with the local aperitif. It was like an alpine Benedictine.

 

Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 2 – July 9, 2017 – Interlaken to Lake Como

Into the mountains

Day two was a great and grey day of riding. We did about 265 km of riding, basically all in the mountains. We headed out of Interlaken on an overcast day and headed up towards Sustern Pass. The weather brightened somewhat up the pass but stayed pretty cool. Some of the views were amazing with glaciers and ice melt lakes. We were handily beaten up the pass by the locals who would out ride us going into the bends riding much to fast for people who didn't know what was around the next corner.

The area of Sustern and the next “up” side of the next pass, Splugen pass were very orderly and well keep, much as you would expect from the Swiss. At the top we crossed the border and into Italy and things changed. They became much more unkempt and less well cared for. They were greyer and more run down. There is a big damn and lake close to the top and they were very reminiscent of pre-World War 2 films of Mussolini and HItler. It turned out they were constructed in 1931.

The “down” side of Splugen pass had some amazing switchbacks or “Tornatini”. They were linked together in amazing sequences of tight turn followed by a short straight. The right handers were the hardest seeming to drop away for ever. We did see someone trying to pull a trailer up at the bottom and wondered how far they might have made it

Once down of the mountain, the road seemed to hit and amazing number of long tunnels, 2 and 3 kilometers in length. With dark sunglasses on they were quite difficult to see clearly in.

Coming out of one tunnel into a right hand bend with an exit, Rob and I missed the turn-off. No problem, we figured we'd pull off at the next exit and turn-around. It seemed like 20 miles later when we found it. So a couple of Whatsapp calls and text later we contrived to meet in Dervio at the campsite.

The campsite was quite small and crowded but we got a nice corner overlooking the lake to get set up in with easy access to the beach and a couple of restaurants. After a few beers from the camp shop. We wandered down the beach to a small place with a patio and head what you should have in Italy, wine, pizza, and gelato.

 

Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 1

Planes, Trains, and Motorcycles

Day 1 was a long day, getting from Denver, Colorado to Interlaken, Swittzerland. Leaving around 2pm, while on a conference call to close the work week, Lisa drove me to Denver International Airport. Checking and boarding for Icelandic Airways was a breeze.

 

The flight to Reykjavik was uneventful. A empty seat next to me, a few episodes of Modern Family, a ham and cheese bagette (apparently an Icelandic staple), a couple of gin and tonics, a nap, and Bob's your uncle we arrived.

3,593 miles/5782km

Passport control in Reykjavik was the most efficient I've ever been through. Switch passports, EU entry side, scan passport, pose for photo, done. Off to the gate for the Zurich flight via the food court, where they were running specials on ham and cheese bagettes with and orange juice – breakfast of champions. I figured I'd pick one up because I figured out why Icelandic is so cheap. You pay for everything except soft drinks.

I'd bid on an “won” an upgrade on the second leg, so I boarded early and was seated in economy comfort. Little did I know that this included food and drinks. The flight attendant was amazed that all I wanted was sparkling water. She whispered that I could have anything I wanted for free. Coffee, nap, Zurich.

82

 

1640 miles/2,640 kilometers

There is a train station at the Zurich airport and a bought my ticket to Thun, where I'd pick up the motorcycle, from a kiosk while waiting for luggage. Luggage showed up with no incidents and it was off to the train. This is where the fun began, I couldn't find the train to Thun. I was directed to take train 1 to the Zurich main station. At the main station, I couldn't find the train to Thun and I was directed to take the train to Bern. The glossy from the motorcycle store with the short train ride away all of a sudden came into focus.

90miles/146 kilometers

A quick taxi ride to the Thun Motorsport Center put this beauty in my hands, the new KTM 1090 R. Even the guys at the shop were drooling over it.

It was a beautiful ride around one of the Interlaken lakes. Just a little storm to deal with, requiring zipping up the Klim.

 

After a short ride to the Hotel Mattenhof aka the funny farm, day 1 was done.

19miles/30 kilometers

Meanwhile, the English lads had left at dinner (lunch) time on Friday and ridden all the way across the continent.

823 miles/1324km

Great to have Charlie along with us!

 

Desert Southwest

I am always amazed how beautiful and sparsely populated parts of the USA are. This is an iPad (3) shot from 30,000 feet above New Mexico. I am off to Las Vegas to do what no one thinks of doing at this time of year, ride motorcycles. I get to see my old high school friend Martyn Howarth and relatively new friend Kenny Taylor. This is the second time we have met up to ride in Vegas. Last time we roasted. This time we plan to head for the mountains. We will probably roast anyway.

Fondis Colorado

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine sent me the link to a blog post of 25 Abandoned Buildings in Colorado. It was an interesting post and I stashed it away for later. Yesterday, I wanted to go out on a ride so I decided that I would check one of them out. Number 21 on the list is reasonably close to where I live, so I decided to give it a shot.

Getting There

Fondis is easy enough to find. It is about 30 miles east of Castle Rock. Take Colorado Highway 86 east from Castle Rock to Elbert County Road 77. It is further than you think and you will be convinced you’ve missed the turn-off. The county roads don’t go sequentially and you will see a couple whose number is far higher than 77. County Road 77 is a dirt road but arrow straight going up and down over rolling hills. Take it about 10 miles south where you will get to the intersection of County Road 98. Turn right, west, on CR98 and take it 5 miles downhill into Fondis where it dead ends. Continue reading “Fondis Colorado”

Riding Patagonia

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFXkQbPhavg?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1&origin=https://safe.txmblr.com&wmode=opaque&w=250&h=141]

Here are some of the videos Oggy and Charlie shot on our Patagonia trip, unedited for the most part, along with a couple of my shots.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUo0GxOdCNVtskD3KVmsw3LJM3G23E1-v

Day 18 – Santiago to Denver

January 18th 2014

Distance – 5493 miles as the crow flies

Travel time – ~24 hours door to door

This was a brutal travel day. After far too much beer, too many cocktails, and too little sleep, Martyn bangs on the door of the “Princess Suite” to wake me up at 3am. I can’t figure out how the shower works so it is a quick splash in the sink and I’m down for coffee. At 3:20 Martyn packs me off in the taxi and the trip home as begun.

Check-in is smooth with the exception of passports – the US does not want visitors without visas so I have to use my US passport, not my UK passport which I used here to avoid the “reciprocal fee”.

I hit the COPA lounge and stock up on liquid because for some reason I’m feeling dehydrated. Boarding is easy as I’m in the first group and have a window seat. I stash my gear and crash immediately to catch another couple of hours sleep.

On waking, I’m treated to breakfast and this view from the plane.

God’s Eye

The rest of the trip is pretty tedious. I catch up on some of the blog posts, I read the Bike magazines that Martyn has given me, avoiding the 900 page book I lugged around with me. I spend hours in COPA lounge in Panama City, where my flight is delayed for a couple of hours. MacBean breaks the tedium by Facetiming me from home. The lads had arrived home without incident and were trying to stay awake until a reasonable time.

Finally, my flight to Houston takes off and we arrive without incident. Immigration and customs is a breeze – all electronic these days. Given my delay, I have just enough time to grab a sandwich before the flight to Denver.

Lisa met at the baggage claim where my luggage has arrived this time. She gets me home by which time I’m acting like a zombie. As I walked into the house, I closed the garage door on her and had no recollection of doing it. I have to get to bed. It’s midnight Denver time, 4am in Chile. We are leaving for the Broncos/Patriots game tailgate at 9am the next morning.

Fantastic trip

Day 17 – Winding down in Santiago

Friday, January 17th

Distance – 0km

This is it. The trip is almost over. All we have left to do is hang out and get our flights home. The lads are leaving around 5:30pm this evening. I’m hanging out until 6am tomorrow.

For those of us who have not yet bought gifts, panic buying at the mall is the order of business. Martyn has come down with George to cram us all into the back of a Hyundai Santa Fe.

Clowns lined up to get into the mini

Off to the mall we went and once inside, we could have been in any western country in the world – Food court – check, Armani Exchange – check, FroYo – check. MacBean’s kids made out like bandits. Some lucky ladies in Manchester got special treats – Chilean hot sauce. I got a bottle of aged Pisco to fill the spot left by the missing bourbon bottle.

Peruvian lunch spot

Like England, the best cusine is not local. In the case of Chile, Peruvian food is the businss. We stopped by a great place with outdoor seating. The pisco sours came in goblets better suited as goldfish bowls. Putting two down left me with quite a buzz.

Ceviche and pisco sours

After lunch, we dropped the Bolly boys at the hotel to get their cab to the airport. I went off with Martyn and George – picking up beer on the way – to their house to hang out for the afternoon. We spent it drinking beer as Martyn prepped his bike to go off and watch the last special stage in the Dakar.

The Howorth’s place in Santiago

Behind the house is a beautiful little stream that I bet is a raging torrent when the snows are melting in the spring.

The Howorth’s stream

That evening, the Howorth’s took me to dinner at a steakhouse in Santiago. We started with cocktails and I had to have a caipirinha. The food, wine and company were all fantastic. I had grilled short ribs, quiet unusual. I also introduced them to a new name for the bollocks they ordered – Rocky Mountain Oysters. George’s girlfriend Luna came along.

Luna, Kate, Martn, and George

The next morning as I dragged myself out of bed at 3am to get the taxi to the airport, it came to me that I’m really not very bright. Drinking all day and staying up late in preparation for 24 hours of travel is not very smart.

Sad to leave but ready to get home.