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Author Topic: So many Alps, so little time  (Read 5307 times)

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Offline RBEmerson

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Re: So many Alps, so little time
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2016, 11:10:10 PM »
The pre-trip events continue apace... Edelweiss sent out a small book with a list of towns passed through (think waypoints), a brief description of each day's ride and a comment about some must-see. It's a little thin on detail. Although, to be fair, there is a caveat about changed routes due to unforeseen events. The booklet includes handy phrases in multiple languages, and some comments on driving rules (which are distinctly not the same as the US - e.g., in an intersection, the vehicle on the right has the right of way with some exceptions, no 4-way stop signs, no right on red). They also sent the German list of well over 1000 traffic signs and their meaning.  :eek:

Edelweiss rules are fairly simple: no drinking at lunch or stops, riding alone is discouraged - two riders or more isn't, be home for dinner, no racing, you break it - you darn near bought it unless you carry their max insurance (makes sense - honest), AGATT, stay behind the group leader, and a couple others I've forgotten already.

Although there are planned routes, if two or more riders want to do their own thing or branch off from a route, no worries. For example, day 2 (first riding day) includes an extended stop at Neuschwanstein castle (the one that looks like it was designed by Disney). BTDT passed up on the t-shirt. It appears that I'm not the only person who doesn't want to spend a ton of time on a tour, so we may well form a group who'll either continue alone, or maybe find a way to re-connect with the main group.

Speaking of groups, a 17 bike group is a little much. There are two guides, which brings the number of bikes in any one group to a manageable size. Edelweiss offers a one-day quickie class for people nervous about riding in Europe and on less than flat ground. There's a fee. Ditto for a day's tour of Innsbruck (nearest city to Seefeld, our base of operations). Both are, of course, the day before the big show begins.

Overall, there are five riding days - day 1 is the meet&greet for people and bikes, day 7 is the auf wiedersehen, ciao day. Each day is an out and back day. That is, we stay in the same hotel - beats living out of a pair of saddle bags. The shortest day is about 125-175 miles, the longest (Passo dello Stelvio - the "come to Jesus" ride - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stelvio_Pass ) is about 300 miles. Riding is rain or shine. Wusses can sit out wet days, but, given the cost of the week, that's an expensive day spent doing not much.

The trip is on paved roads. They vary from the fast sweepers in some of Bavaria (southern Germany) to the  :eek: hairpin turns on some of the roads for passes (some are toll roads, BTW). According to a friend who did the tour in Sept. 14, one couple dropped their RT twice on hairpins. (Turns out he hadn't been on two wheels for five years, instead riding a Can-Am after she had enough of his dropping bikes)

They also sent a list of all the people on the tour (17 riders, 23 guests - guess 6 folks are in the back...). That lead to an email to everyone on the list. There's been a lot of chatter about several topics (packing and what to wear are biggies). Someone eventually conjured up a name for the group: The Mild Ones (think Marlon Brando, the movie The Wild Ones, and people somewhat older). Everyone is from somewhere in the US, except for a guy coming from Australia and another coming from Turkey.

Additionally, a blog has been started. The first post, from the people who started the blog includes a real stunner: he and she count themselves as retired semi-pro drag racers (photos of bikes included). https://themildonesalps.wordpress.com/

From what I've learned from the eastern US Edelweiss rep, this group is rare for getting connected before arriving for day 1. It should be interesting to see what happens with F2F meetings.
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Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Re: So many Alps, so little time
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2016, 06:19:47 AM »
Considering my loathing for group rides, this sounds like it will be interesting to follow along.
I expect plenty of reports and photos and maybe even a little drama once in a while. You know, think of Dave on the Long Way Round: always finding trouble when there was none  8)

It also sounds like Edelweiss sets up a pretty decent trip and is well-organized. I wish you the best of weather!
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Offline RBEmerson

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Re: So many Alps, so little time
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2016, 08:15:14 AM »
When we visited Linderhof (palace in Bavaria), there was a serious collection of (I think) Edelweiss bikes in one corner of the parking lot. If that group really was as big as all that... oh my. I'm not big on group rides, either. Keeping a consistent pace with only one rider can be frustrating, with 6-8? OTOH, I linked up with a group of three riders (they were going the same direction I was and I decided to tag along. The route was moderately twisty and their group's abilities seemed to vary a bit; that worked out well. (Odd thing is, we came to a light, we caught up,and  they turned off the route to my destination, but I wasn't even acknowledged  :headscratch:)

Edelweiss does seem to be on top of things, although I do see an occasional detail slide by. Some advice about effective gear packing would be a winner. Some people have asked "is there a laundry in the hotel" (no). A list of services (including Tip Top Cleaners) in Seefeld would be a help. There's nothing about where to get gear (oops, forgot my gloves, or darned visor just broke).  :headscratch:

Speaking of weather, I've been watching Seefeld weather and get the sense it's been cool (50's during the day) and wet. AccuWeather's long term forecast shows some warming into early July, but still on the cool side (60's to 70ish). Of course any forecast that far out is little more than crystal ball gazing. I'm sure Basel weather doesn't mirror this, but have you heard anything about weather in the Tirol?
« Last Edit: July 25, 2016, 09:10:47 AM by RBEmerson »
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Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Re: So many Alps, so little time
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2016, 12:15:39 PM »
OTOH, I linked up with a group of three riders (they were going the same direction I was and I decided to tag along. The route was moderately twisty and their group's abilities seemed to vary a bit; that worked out well. (Odd thing is, we came to a light, we caught up,and  they turned off the route to my destination, but I wasn't even acknowledged  :headscratch:)
That doesn't surprise me at all. I've noticed that a lot of riders "ride their own ride" and other bikes don't even register, other than for a passing wave/foot.

Speaking of weather, I've been watching Seefeld weather and get the sense it's been cool (50's during the day) and wet. AccuWeather's long term forecast shows some warming into early July, but still on the cool side (60's to 70ish). Of course any forecast that far out is little more than crystal ball gazing. I'm sure Basel weather doesn't mirror this, but have you heard anything about weather in the Tirol?

I won't be able to help you with any weather guessing. Our own forecast has been for nothing but rain, clouds and cool temperatures (fine by me!) and they've been wrong about half the time. As Tirol is nowhere near my summer's plans, it isn't some place that I've been paying attention to  :P  Sorry - guess you'll just have to wing it!
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Offline RBEmerson

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Re: So many Alps, so little time
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2016, 09:16:54 AM »
I put up a (IMEO - e= embarrassed) near incoherent RR on .n. I'll work up something for .o that, I hope, is more comprehensible than what I wrote, at oh-dark-thirty, in my hotel room.
Meanwhile, chew on this video, by Alexander Thiessen ridding a 650 VStrom, of climbing Passo dello Stelvio / Stifersjoch via the Italian road and descending on the Austrian 48 hairpin turn route. Ascending that was is ...ah... memorable. By comparison, the descent on the Italian side is easy-peasy.
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Online garry

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Re: So many Alps, so little time
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2016, 09:26:55 AM »
How was traffic overall? I just skipped through the vid quickly (at work) and it appeared to have a fair amount of traffic on the pass.
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Offline RBEmerson

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Re: So many Alps, so little time
« Reply #21 on: July 25, 2016, 10:12:49 AM »
Traffic... The tour was on the road(s) on a Thursday. I'm told weekends can be mob scenes. There were cars, campers, bicycles, the occasional bus, and bikes but, IIRC, no trucks. Most cars negotiated the turns with vary degrees of skill. Some blocked the turn until they could back up and get moving again. Not a desirable event while on a bike. Campers (we're talking about smaller towed campers about a parking lot slot wide, not the behemoth fifth wheel monsters often seen here) usually take up the whole road (yes, that means the road is often not wider than a wide parking lot slot). On the straights it's possible to pass them if they cooperate (right side flasher is a good sign of driver cooperation). Those who don't are hated. A lot. Buses are as bad as campers except most drivers will try to make room for passing. Bicycles range from the sane, to the side of the road types, to the insane, middle of the road, even in turns types - ascending or descending. That applies for other bikes, too. V. high pucker factor rounding a hairpin and seeing some asshat in the middle or the outside while descending. Yes indeed.

Passing... it ranges from the insane take 'em on the inside of the turn (seen it) to the insane pass with something close coming the other way (seen it, been close to doing it) to the sane but near dying while waiting for a typical  US style pass (Thiessen is generally in this camp - dunno why). The viable solution is to get on the passee's back and seriously go for WOT to get around. The space between the passer and passee can be breathtakingly close, ditto for the distance to a curve, switchback, or hairpin turn while slowing down quickly from WOT speeds. If the bike's not 100%, don't think about doing the climb. Typically there's a retaining wall or cliff on the uphill side, maybe Armco or a low wall or wood fence (as seen in the video) to nothing on the downhill side. "Downhill" is being restrained and conservative. Some drops are just short of being cliffs. This is very much a place to apply "Ride like a knob and die". I admit to the ride up being close to knobby - I psyched myself out. The ride down was very much not.

Did I mention that some roads (didn't see it on the Stelvio roads) are decorated with cows and cow pies? As in free range? Yet another opportunity for excellence.  :rolleyes:

I'll (repeat, possibly) the how-to for going and braking, and turning in the RR. Descents aren't that scary, ascents can be memorable. Oh my, yes. :rolleyes:
« Last Edit: July 25, 2016, 10:22:53 AM by RBEmerson »
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