Lucky Bastard’s Motorcycle Tour #2 – Part 3
Austria – Switzerland – Italy
The final part of the Lucky Bastard’s Motorcycle Tour #2 is here, it is the final event of the tour and the final search for some cracking motorcycling roads as we go to our final destination – Mugello, Italy.
Seth and I stayed in Eisenerz for a couple of days after the Erzberg Rodeo as I had hurt my back and needed to recover, plus we needed to do laundry, Seth had worn his pants and t-shirts both ways while my dirty washing bag was starting to move, make noises and try and walk off by itself.
Luckily we found a brilliant and very old guest house (Alpinclub-Eisenerz) just outside the center where the owner Regina more than looked after us, plus allowed us to clean all our clothing and re-charge from the dismal weather we’d had to camp in for the past 3 days. After that would we set off to Switzerland (Where we would meet up with my good friend and riding partner from part of my Lucky Bastard’s Motorcycle Tour #1 – Alex) and as we went we looked for the most interesting roads to get there. We did but even though the roads were great, they were also well used, full of trucks and cars, and really made the day’s ride a long and difficult one.
However, the weather had turned, it was now glorious and it was great to be back on a motorbikes, seeing sights and clicking by more miles. The highlight of the day was reaching a mountain top, seeing a spectacular view of waterfalls, valleys and meeting a pair of bikers from the UK who were also on a LBMT of their own! We rode up and down the amazing bends of the Gerlos Alpenstrasse before crossing into Switzerland via Lichtenstein.
We were heading towards Zurich but didn’t make it and bedded down in a small place called Murg which was near a lake and looked on my map as good as anywhere. As it turned out it was a great place to stop for the night as the closed campsite (it was after 9pm) was right on the water, so we snuck in and set up camp, the night sky and morning sun rise was just fantastic.
Unfortunately I cannot share photos of the guest house and day, night or morning as my SD card failed as I downloaded in the morning and I lost all photo’s, totally gutted and hugely disappointed… it hurts to think of all the good memories lost 🙁
That morning I spent many hours uploading video footage while my friend Alex rode through 650miles of pouring rain from London to arrive in Murg and meet up with Seth and I. Oh yes, now the LBMT#2 became 3 riders and all good friends! Sweet!! – Switzerland to Asolo in Italy was the plan for the day and the roads we had planned out gave us all reason to feel excited even before we had done a mile.
Poor Alex had ridden in pouring rain from the second he set off from London, the dark skies, driving rain and even thunder and lightening had followed him all the way, when he did ride out of it, he’d stop for gas and it would catch him up and by the time he got going again he’d be wet riding once again.
Finally just outside of Zurich he got away from the wet stuff and as he arrived in Murg, it was dry. I was making full use of the campsites wifi and was uploading loads of huge files so Seth and Alex had to sit around for a while and wait, by the time I’d finished it was pouring once again, Alex had brought the weather with him….
So, for the first part of the day it was a wet one but soon as we jumped off the motorway and towards our first mountain pass of the day, the roads were thankfully dry and we could peel off our wet suits and dry out.
The first pass was Flüelapass which is a 2383 meter climb which took us high and towards out first sight of snow. There were many other bikers on the road, mainly coming the other way so we knew it was a great biking road and loved by many, at the summit we saw a guy with the largest yellow tank bag I’ve ever seen, he struggled to reach the bars!
After a quick stop to high5 and take a picture it was on to the next pass, the Ofenpass a great series of uphill corners that at the summit it is 2149 meters and a wonderful sight welcomes you as the view of the snow capped mountains in the distance and the motorcycle hanging above the cafe is sure evidence that this road was made for bikers.
There wasn’t that much on the road, some cyclists, few cars and the odd bus which mainly took the weaker cyclists to the top and dropped them off so they could free-wheel down the other side, the rest of the traffic was motorbikes. Again it was high 5’s, huge grins and another summit photo before we were off on our way again and on to the premier pass of the day, possibly in existence…the Stelvio Pass.
At the base of the Stevlio on the Swiss side is a tiny and narrow village, a sharp right in the middle of town with a sign high up hardly makes you believe this could be the famous road, half a mile up the road and after already a few aggressive corners, there was no way it wasn’t, look up and see the road switch back and forth you soon realized that you were going to be climbing and corning for quite a while.
Once out of the trees the road did open up a bit more, but not much, it was corner after corner and they weren’t fast corners, more like hairpin bends, up hill hairpin bends at that. For some reason the dry and sticky tarmac turned into a gravel road, only for a mile but it was enough to easily fall down, which I nearly did after getting on the gas a bit hard out of one of the corners, the back-end kicking out more than a bit and getting my full attention.
Once we were back on the good road, it climbed, climbed and climbed high up the mountain, when you got a chance to glance down at what you had ridden, the view was just spectacular, it was hard to believe that you just come up such a road, it look more like a wiggly string of spaghetti.
Almost at the summit you leave gorgeous Switzerland and step into Italy and at the top of the Stelvio you are welcomed by glorious Bormio sign which is covered in signatures, stickers and people who have reached the summit of this magnificent road before you, bloody brilliant! so we added out mark and enjoyed the moment together, our stupid grin had just got bigger.
The ride down the other side was even more treacherous, sharper hairpins, 49 or 50 in fact, very narrow and steep. You’d think it was a single track road but it’s not, cars, bikes and even the odd van and cyclist will be heading your way but no one is traveling fast, it’s a slow road and one that must be taken carefully as if you get it wrong, the small wall and dramatic drop would only end one way.
At the bottom and with the snow capped mountain in the back ground we all stopped for one last photo, I somehow managed to balance my camera on some rocks, stick it on the timer and a cracking photo came out with our 3 great machines and 3 very happy friends all smiling inside and out, a fantastic photo with awesome memories.
The ride from then on to Asolo was a gentle one, we left the Stelvio behind but it will be forever with us and arriving late in Asolo we showered and then ate at a local Italian restaurant where we all told tails of our motorcycling adventures of the day and fell asleep with smiles on our faces.
Asolo to Mugello – ITALY
Waking up in Asolo is always a happy time, firstly because of the fact I’m at Alpinestars HQ, then there is an amazing bakery just down the road which has amazing choice and causes instant drooling. On top of that Alpinestars have Tetley Tea if you don’t want an Espresso, the sense of motorcycle history is all around and the sun always seems to come up, it the perfect start to any day.
After sleeping next to Alex on a shared bed (I was in my bag) packing up our gear, taking what was possibly our last good shower until we returned home (we’d stayed the night at an Alpinestars apartment), the boys went into old Asolo center on top of the hill while I got into motorcycle talk with Gabriele. By the time I met up with them it was just before lunch, they’d already had ice cream and looked very settled outside the cafe and in the Italian sun.
As soon as Alex spotted some Pasta being eaten, lunch was then ordered, which we guzzled fast and then we all hit the road in a flash, it was a late start to our riding day in which we had to cover many miles, especially if we wanted to fit it in all before sun set.
A man came up to me as I parked the Tenere and said the bike looked incredible and like one from the magazines, tested, dirty, ridden and enjoyed, I told him he was very right, we agreed it look superb as an Adventured, Adventure bike. Gabriele on the other hand wasn’t as sure, he was left with a big dirty mark outside his office doorway, the overnight storm had washed some of the Erzberg orange dirt off – leaving a big dirty puddle as it cleaned the muddy bike off a bit.
It’s never easy leaving such a beautiful part of the world but we were soon off and now heading for Venice. Of course we took the back roads all the way, through Castelfranco and then out onto the glorious little island of Venezia. If you have never been to Venice, it’s well worth the trip, few make it onto the center by their own wheels but there is a big motorcycle park on the island, but a small motorcycle is better suited to Venezia than the 2 huge Adventure bikes and a Sport Tourer as we found out.
A quick stop for photos, see a few sights and top up with gas it was full steam ahead to Bologna and the fantastic road we’d all be talking about, discussing and getting excited about all day, for Alex and I it was more like all year as Bologna is the start of one of the most magical motorcycling roads in Italy, even the world.
Getting to Bologna was a pain in the ass, the road we’d chosen was littered with traffic and many Trucks, we opted to turn off for quieter roads and more fun, we got them but then got lost, still it was better coming up on loads of lorries and hearing ‘clear, clear’ clear’ through the ScalaRider intercom that all three of us were hooked up to.
At the end of the day it all worked out and soon we were in the dead center of Bologna, we cut through all the buses and cars and then on to the narrow streets where we rode amongst the motorbikers of the city, riding through ancient archways and on the cobbles, it was brilliant.
Coming out the other side of the city we took small roads and lanes than looked right and the first major junction we came to a blue sign across the road said ‘Futa’ – left, this way. Happy days, it was a straight run into the magnificent hills of the Futa Pass.
As we left Bologna behind we got many a riding lesson from the locals and picked up many tips of how they get around this city on 2 wheels and it reminded me a lot like London, Alex’s home turf. Motorbikes, Scooters, Mopeds, they all work here, even an old man on a motorized wheel-chair was faster than some of the cars, the center of Bologna was old and beautiful, a wonderful city and the home of Ducati, the Futa Pass being their local test track and the road we would be on in a matter of minutes.
As the busy traffic fades, the Futa Pass starts, the twists and hills give instant motorcycling freedom and it is the Futa’s brilliant demands that give you great satisfaction to ride. No two corners are the same but many are similar, the speed and rhythm to corner is a long dance that only gives you a chance to catch your breath as you slow down for villages, traffic or the locals residents as you click by the miles and towards the summit.
Sat at the back of the pack the visual was just brilliant, I watched as my buddies nailed the turns while the crisp ScalaRider intercom allowed me to hear the joy and excitement coming out of Alex and Seth’s mouths while they were riding the non-stop corners of the Futa Pass.
We stopped off once again at the Summit, of course to get some photos but to also chat about the road we’d just taken to get us to that point as the Futa’s corners are just the best. As soon as I saw the look on Alex’s & Seth’s faces I knew we were all thinking the same, that was amazing, so much fun and quite possibly the best road we’d ridden together so far. On top of that my 2 riding partners had improved their own riding skills tremendously, each helping bring the other one on and I tried to offer some help if I thought they needed it.
All of it had come together, now we were riding the Futa SP65, all enjoying being on a motorcycle, all having the time of our lives and doing it safely and smartly.
After the obligatory photo the three of us breezed down the other side got our 1st look of Mugello from above and soon picked up our 1st Mugello race circuit sign, just perfect.
Having lucky enough to have been to Mugello a few times, I knew of a good Italian place to grab food and recharge our batteries whilst telling tales about our riding day. Many good times had been had today, we’d ridden some fantastic mountain roads in 2 days and now we were at Mugello for the MotoGP, no one could take the smiles off our faces, not even Seth’s as he got hen pecked for having fun.
After filling our tummies we headed for the P2 car park, it’s just outside the track, has some security and is floodlit for most of the night, last year Alex and I got robbed in our sleep there, we hoped for better this time. To be extra careful we put our tents up against the hedge, made a tight triangle out of the three tents and then put our bikes in between the tents. After that we tided ropes and bungees around the bikes and back to the tents and then locked ourselves in the best we could from the inside.
Ear plugs were needed as the MotoGP beer tent was open and pumping loudly, security dogs were barking and a high-speed train was ripping past at all times of the night just a short distance away.
By morning it would reveal that our fears of robbery were correct as our bungees and ropes from around the bikes had been removed, the side of Alex’s tent was un-clipped and pulled up to expose his fly sheet and then that was tampered with. Seth’s tent was un-zipped and his door way partially open and thankfully they’d left me alone, either beaten as they couldn’t quickly penetrate our camping security or disturbed.
In the morning we were a bit down about the fact we’d been f*cked with again in the dead of night but soon it was back to smiles after it was confirmed that nothing was missing, we had a delicious chocolate croissant & Cappuccino at a local cafe bar and Alpinestars came through with passes.
Once we got our bikes and valuables inside the track and only left our bare essentials in the tents we felt 100% better, it was our own victory and the weekend was just beginning, Mugello MotoGP here we come…… 🙂