Motorcycling Heaven is a Place on Earth: Part I
What’s your vision of motorcycling heaven? Is it a place of unspoiled natural beauty? Or is it riding an endless progression of curvy roads through breathtaking mountain scenery? Does it involve refueling at the end of the day with delicious cuisine at a one-of-a-kind hotel?
Not only does motorcycling heaven exist, but it’s also a place right here on Earth! I recently joined Blue Rim Tours for their Five-Country Tour in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, and Switzerland. The Five-Country Tour is their longest running trip, first organized by RoadRUNNER Magazine’s founder Christian Neuhauser. He wanted to bring readers back to the places that inspired him. It was my first time visiting Europe and a chance to share the awesome experience of riding in the Alps and Dolomites with some like-minded souls. Here is the first of my ten reasons why this tour really is a motorcycle ride of a lifetime.
The 1,400-mile tour route is technical riding at its best. The famed Stelvio Pass alone has around 100 hairpin curves. In the course of eight riding days we summited 37 mountain passes and in the process probably negotiated a couple thousand hairpins, a total which doesn’t include the countless slightly tamer curves. I came to suspect that there isn’t more than a mile of straight road in any one stretch of the Alps.
Guardrails are often absent on some of the most narrow mountain byways. These roads, by the way, are shared with trucks, buses, automobiles, bicycles, and other motorcyclists. Besides the usual road hazards, many of the pass roads also have free-roaming cattle and sheep. Riders often must use the entire roadway to properly apex these challenging turns. This requires not only looking through the curve, but also a look further ahead to see if any oncoming traffic will intersect the rider’s intended line.
Many of the roads and mountain passes are legendary, with the Stelvio probably being the most famous one to Americans. In my humble opinion, though, there are numerous other road-going highlights on this tour:
German Alpenstrasse to Salzburg, Austria provides beautiful scenic views, even in the rain;
Nockalmstrasse (toll road) in Austria; a beautiful, smooth, and open road where riders can let ‘er rip;
Vrsic Pass in Slovenia with its cobblestone hairpins and dramatic overlooks of glacial valleys;
Most of the Dolomite mountain passes in Italy; and specifically,
Passo Gavio in Italy with its exceptionally narrow road, sheer drop-offs, no guardrails, and drop dead (so to speak) gorgeous scenic vistas.
If you’re a serious motorcyclist, you owe it to yourself to enjoy the most blissful motorcycling experience available on planet Earth. Get more details about the 2015 Five-Country Tour here.