As with all good plans…it started in the pub!, We had a very loose plan which involved seeing as much of Europe as 4 weeks would allow, while also spending some off-bike time by Lake Lugano with friends.
Due to various commitments, we arranged to meet up in Epernay (Northern France) at a campsite on the outskirts of town. So after a day tasting champagne for which this area is famous, we pushed on south and headed for the mountains and some decent roads.
Our next evening was near Giromagny where, after getting our first taste of hairpins we found somewhere to wild camp! The road nearby was the locals TT course, so we cooked on a camp fire whilst listening to bikes being caned to within an inch of their lives…perfect!After camping for a night and feeling a bit windswept and interesting, we decided on a locals recommendation that we would splash out a bit…or so we thought! It turns out that when in Switzerland 90 euros only gets you a bit of supper and a mattress on the floor in an attic! Although to be fair the attic had a cracking view and we woke to the sound of cowbells!
The Refuge de Taveynne turned out to be a cracking little place.After leaving the “cowshed” as it became known, we headed down the mountain stopping only for coffee and photo’s…of course! As usual planning was a spur of the moment thing so we looked for accommodation for that night whilst having lunch at the road side! What we found turned out to be one of the highlights of the whole trip!The Refugio Belvedere was a ski slope restaurant in the winter and a stunning mountain bikers / hikers refuge during the summer. After a bit of negotiation, we got permission to ride the access track up to the property from Crisette Dessous. This was a bit of an eye-opener on the Multistrada on-road tyres!!! However…with a bit of conviction and whilst trying not to think about the rocks hitting the engine, we managed to get to the top. After descending the mountain the next morning again without incident we decided the goal for the next few days was to end up paying a visit to KTM’s new museum in Mattighofen. So taking minor roads where possible we headed east via Lake Lugano to check out our digs for later in the trip. Ending the day in a glorified caravan for the night…I didn’t say this lack of planning always works! Next on the list was the Stelvio Pass, via St Moritz (Sublime to ridiculous!) This turned out to be a fairly big day but on incredible roads, we rode up the Stelvio much to the Ducati’s distain! The altitude really screwed with the fueling and the bike was struggling to run at all!
Once at lower levels we pressed on and arrived in Murano where again we did our last-minute search for accomodation! You’d think we’d learn!
However luck was on our side and after a mad hairpin laden thrash up the mountain, we arrived at a great family run little hotel near the Jaufenpass just as the heavens opened with a thunderstorm.
Grossglockner was the next target, with the aim of getting to Hitlers eagles nest that evening. At this point we booked 2 nights accommodation just outside Mattighofen and readied ourselves for a KTM extravaganza the next day…
KTM Day :-)Heading now for Slovenia we rode on across Austria dodging thunderstorms. Having had a conversation with rideunlimited.co.uk they had warned us about the weather and they weren’t wrong! We just got into Slovenia for lunch when the heavens opened…or so we thought! We waited for the rain to pass before battling the traffic around the very picturesque Lake Bled.
It was upon leaving the lake that we encountered the REAL weather! Golf ball-sized hailstones are really no fun on a motorcycle!!! The roads turned from dry tarmac to a sub-zero slush in seconds and whilst desperately trying to stay shiny side up we made a break for our digs that night near Tolmezzo just over the Italian border.
A non-riding was declared at this point due to more bad weather forecast and my OCD habit didn’t like the Ducati being so dirty! Oh and we saw the ‘Sport Tractor’!!!
So after a day fettling the bikes and eating perhaps the best Tiramisu in the world we were recharged for the next leg.
Cortina and the Dolomites was up next and a bit of a bucket list destination.We arrived at Cortina and decided to part ways for a couple of days as @doubled1311 wanted to tick off Lichtenstein and visit his other half in Switzerland. He went via St Anton up to Lichtenstein and across to Aarau, meanwhile, I decided to visit Verona and Bergamo. These both turned out to be stunning cities and well worth a look if you’re in the region.
From here we all met up at a villa on the shore of Lake Lugano for a week with some friends, we both did a little bit of riding during the week and visited the Moto Guzzi Factory… lots of stuff I NEED in my life in there!
Finally, the time came that we needed to head north again and towards home.I needed to be back home in a couple of days so the dreaded motorways got a bit of a hammering but were nicely broken up by a visit to a good friend who lives by the Nurburgring…well you wouldn’t you! He’s an instructor who drives the Jaguar Ring Taxi around the circuit…so as you can imagine I spent a lot of the time hanging on for grim death! Great fun though!@doubled1311 headed back to Aarau for a few days, then north again via some off-road tracks.
Before we knew it we were back at the pub where it all began and the topic of conversation?… The next trip!
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