Europe

Perhaps I should begin this section with a warning: European motorcycle touring can be addictive !

Grimsel & Furka Passes 

The above picture captures the view that confirmed my addiction to the Alps in particular. I'd just climbed up the Grimsel pass in Switzerland, and this was the sight that awaits the unsuspecting rider; the first bend of the descent down towards the Furka pass in the distance. I'm well aware that this is a popular spot and it must have been photographed thousands of times before me, but this is my shot and I was there!
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FRENCH ALPS - 2628miles - July 2008


This tour to the southern French Alps was based around the second annual meeting of the AlpineRoads.com members which took place in Barcelonnette. This little town is a great place to be based for a few days to explore some of the highest Alpine passes. In fact La Bonnette is just 30 minutes away and being the highest road in Europe is on every alpine bikers "to do" list.

My outbound route took me via Dijon and Grenoble, with a tour of the Vercors area, before heading still further south to visit the Gorge du Verdon. This provided a stark contrast to the high mountains being the deepest gorge in Europe. I added more than 20 passes to my list including the Col d'Agnel and Col de la Lombarde on the Italian border. The weather was mostly sunny and hot and the Alpine altitude provided some welcome cool relief.


Above Lac du Bourget with Mount Blanc on the horizon 60 miles away !

Download> route.gdb | schedule .xls | Link to Tour Photos 
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MOSEL & RHINE - 1647miles - August 2008


This trip to the Mosel and Rhine valleys was my first time on a group tour. It was also my first experience of being based in just one place for a whole week. We stayed at the Zur Post Hotel, a biker hotel, in the village of Klotten south of Koblenz on the Mosel river. Our hosts, Klaus & Bettina, provided excetional food and wine, and a guided motorcycle tour showing us places and roads only locals would know.

This area really is a bikers paradise with many twisty roads leading up out of the deep river valleys. The Mosel is particularly pretty as it snakes it's way through the rolling countryside with little villages and towns surrounded by the steep vinyards providing welcome rest breaks. Bridges and ferrys allow an endless choice of routes to be woven. The Rhine valley is well within reach to extend and include on daily ride-outs, and provides even more twisties.

The Nurburgring is located nearby and a visit to these parts wouldn't be complete without at least one circuit of the 13 mile / 73 bend course to test your nerve and ability, not to mention the top speed of your bike!


The bridge over the Mosel at Traben-Trarbach

Download> route.gdb | schedule .xls | Link to Tour Photos 
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DOLOMITES - 2668miles - July 2007


On this tour I finally reached the the Dolomites in Italy which extended the boundaries of my Alpine touring so far. After taking the Channel ferry and crossing France, I revisited the Vosges and Black Forest before heading south through Switzerland into Austria. The Timmelsjoch provided my route over the mountains into Italy where I spent a couple of days exploring the Dolomites.

This trip was also designed to allow me to meet up with other international riders from AlpineRoads.com. After traversing the famous Stelvio Pass, a short stay in Livigno allowed me to put some faces to familiar names. Our inaugural meeting was a great success and we're already planning next years event in the French Alps.

My usual good luck with the weather finally deserted me on this trip with 10 out of 11 days being wet at some point. This added a whole new dimension compared to my previous European tours, with snow at one point! As usual I did my best to capture what I could with my digital camera and the best of my photos taken along the way can be viewed here.

Dolomites
The majestic Dolomites

The GPS route through France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy is available by downloading the Garmin and Excel files below.

Download> route.gdb | schedule .xls | Link to Tour Photos 
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PICOS / PYRENEES / ALPS / VOSGES - 3292miles - August 2006


In August'06 we rented a house in Perpignan, southern France for a family holiday which gave me the opportunity to sacrifice my plane seat and use the Tiger to ride overland.

I travelled outbound via the Plymouth/Santander ferry to northern Spain where I explored the Picos de Europa mountains before heading for the Pyrenees. My zig-zag route eastward along the French/Spanish border ending in Tossa de Mar on the Mediterranean, before heading north up the coast road into the south of France.

Following the stay in Perpignan my return route continued up and around the Mediteranean coast to Avignon, Nice, Cannes, and Monaco before heading north into the Alps. Crossing many of the highest passes along the French/Italian border including the highest road in Europe around the Col de la Bonette. Then on into Switzerland via the Grand St.Bernard Pass before heading for Montreaux. From there the route continued north into the Vosges region and then west across northern France to the channel ferry home. A fantastic circular trip!

Pyrenees
The high altitude lake at Riano in the Picos de Europa

I hope to eventually find time to compose a complete Ride Report, but in the meantime my photo journal and route can be viewed here.

Download> route.gdb | schedule .xls | Link to Tour Photos
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ALPINE TOUR - 2812miles - June 2006


This was a truely memorable trip to the Alps. The weather was perfect for riding and photography, and all my careful planning throughout the winter months certainly paid dividends. My only detour was caused by a rockfall closing the motorway and the main road between Luzern and Andermatt.

I set off outbound via the Tunnel following the France/Belgium border passing through Luxembourg and on to Baden-Baden in Germany. Then headed south riding through the Black Forest down into Switzerland. I rode all the famous passes around Andermatt, then sped across to the Mont Blanc area for still more mountain passes around the Swiss/French/Italian borders. I finally headed home westwards across central France taking the fast ferry from Cherbourg to Portsmouth.

Alps
Some of the first bikes following me over the Col de l'Iseran this summer

I'd recommend this route to anyone making their first visit to the Alps. My photo journal of this trip through seven countries with ten overnight stops can be viewed here. The exact route can be viewed by downloading the Garmin and Excel files below.

Download> route.gdb | schedule.xls | Link to Tour Photos

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SPANISH ADVENTURE - June/July 2005


The following routes record my first motorcycle tour into Europe. I cunningly used our family holiday as an excuse to ride to southern Spain and back, and I don't think I'll be flying again!


Chilling out in Spain after a long hot ride !

OUTBOUND - FRANCE / ANDORRA / SPAIN - 1503miles - June 2005

The route south uses the Portsmouth/Le Havre ferry crossing, and passes through Rouen, Chartres, Orleans, Vierzon, Bourges, Montlucon, Clermont Ferrand, Saint Flour, Millau, Carcassonne, Andorra, Llieda, Valencia, and onward down the mediterranean coast. This route is desiged to purposely include riding over and under the new Millau Viaduct - the highest bridge in the world. I've avoided motorways wherever possible and many of the roads were recommended by other riders, such as the superb N260 from Adrall to Sort in the Pyrenees. The route from Millau to Andorra was particularly enjoyable and riding over the Pyrenees is truly breathtaking. For practical reasons I used Ibis hotels for my overnight stops which have the advantage of secure parking for the bike and forward booking flexability.

HOMEBOUND - SPAIN / FRANCE - 1411miles - July 2005

The route home heads through inland Spain to Teruel, then Zaragoza, over the Pyrenees, Pau, Agen, Angouleme, Poitiers, Angers, Laval, Caen, Le Havre, and Portsmouth. Cossing the Pyrenees was again a highlight. In retrospect, one change I would make is to avoid the boring and flat N10 road through western France. This route purposely heads into northwest France to include a visit to an ex-pat friend living near Mayenne.

Download> route.gdb | Link to Tour Photos

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AN INTERESTING OPTIONAL ROUTE - Samoy Valley


Whilst planning my 2006 route to the Black Forest I picked out some twisty roads from the map on the France Belgian border. This turned out to be the Samoy Valley which I know little about, but I can certainly recommend riding. If you've got time and are looking for some relief from the usual straight routes across northern France give this area a try.

Download> route.gdb
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ALPINE PASSES

Here's a useful GPS file containing waypoints locating over 300 Alpine Passes.

Download> route.gdb


Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.... don't just dream about it ....   do it !


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