Published on October 3rd, 2013 | by Boris
Canning is a long-time member of BIKE ME!
Not too long ago, he decided that he needed to take his lovely missus, Mel, to Europe for the trip of a lifetime.
He intended to hire a BMW GS and do as many of those crazy mountain passes as he could.
Naturally, we were all very jealous and called him names and made him promise to take lots of photos so we could live vicariously through him and his journeys.
Here is his journey in his own words and images, which he faithfully uploaded on the site on an almost daily basis. And yes, we’re all still jealous and we still call him names. Which will stop the minute he adopts one of us…
I have driven a lot of these routes when I worked for Mercedes Benz/Daimler and had to be regularly in Germany for meetings, but driving a sports car through the mountains just made me itch even more to get a bike through them. Some of them I have since done on a bike, but many of the roads on this trip will be new to me.
The routes were chosen primarily under the premise that we wanted to cover as many of the best mountain passes as quickly as possible. I know this won’t suit everyone, but it does for me and my mate, and our women. That is get on, go hard and fast all day through the best mountain roads, stop at night, drink beer and wine, and get up and do it again – and again. So little time to stop and smell the roses. I don’t feel the need to stop for culture infusion, as have spent years of my life in Europe and don’t need to see the inside of any more art galleries and musuems, especially when I have a perfectly good motorcycle, summer air, and mountains to ride.
This is the thinking that spawned the route, and Roger (my mate who lives in Geneva), came up with the best squiggly bits, with my encouragement and some help I got from McGuyver on bikeme who sent me a couple of books and CD of the best mountain roads in the region. I understand we’re up for around nine hours a day of hard mountain pass riding with no room for error – but this is exactly my nivarna, and can hardly wait.
Having said this, I wanted to go to Slovenia as I haven’t spent any time there, and I understand it’s stunningly beautiful, especially at Lake Bled – it’s also sports riding central. We will move through this country slower, and will take some time to understand it’s history and culture.
When I travel internationally for work (which is maybe five or six times a year), I sometimes have a day or two I can spare and I always try to find a bike. I have the bike gear travel thing down pat, so I come under the weight limits with all gear and helmet including work andsocial wear, and therefore I only have to get a bike. First stop is usually ADMo tours, and I have rented from them a lot and they have good international coverage. Failing that, it’s on the net and looking for a GS. GS’s are familiar to me, and this is my preferred bike when overseas as means I can go offroad if I need to, and often do so.
In this case I went to http://www.rent-a-dream.it, and found a new GS with a top box, panniers, GPS and unlimited mileage for euro 1495 for 11 days, and will pick it up in Milan. There is also a security deposit of around the same value that you ge back when returning the bike. I wouldn’t contemplate shipping my own bike, as I never have the time for extended stays over a couple of weeks. I would consider this if a longer trip.
I always stick some arrow stickers on the mirrors to remind you to stay on the correct side of the road, especially if you’ve had a few beers and are tired from the days riding.
Unlike a car, where the general rule is to keep the steering wheel to the centre of the road, because this defaults to you always being on the correct side of any road in any country, you have no reminder on a bike, hence the arrows.
Nothing worse than to to be hungover in some non-English speaking country, at high speed on the wrong side of the road, wondering why your immediate road world seems to hate you more than it usually does.
Anyway, I have coming to Germany for nearly 20 years, and I am very comfortable here, although there’s not much that I really love about it, except these
The Germans do bread and pretzels better than anywhere in the world, and these are fantastic. Oh, the Weissbier Is very good too.
Haven’t seen a proper bike yet, only scooters so far. Gotta go to work now.
Tomorrow I’m going to stand on the very site that Karl Benz built the world’s first petrol powered trike in 1885, the same year that his mate Gottlieb Daimler built the world’s first motorcycle. They went on to form Mercedes Benz. I’ve never been to Karl Benz’s place before, and can’t help but to feel a bit excited about standing right on the workshop site of a guy I have read about since being a small kid.
Milan – so far, so good.
Going downtown to find a birthday present for Mel. I left it at home, and her birthday will happen whilst we’re away.
You guys are gonna wanna kill me. I have some big news. Can’t talk now…
I have some very good friends in Germany, one of whom knew Antonio Scabari who raced Benelli in the Italian championship against Agostini. He also raced alfa Romeo for 6 years in the US and came second at lacuna seca.
His English is non existent, but my mate Peter gave me the address and said to go – and arranged with Antonio who was expecting me.
I have just been. I have video taken right now of 6 open Benelli pipes. The sound is incredible. He also has MV’s….lots of special ones, and I have pics too.
So excited, am shaking. We’ve been invited back for lunch on Fri 13th July where Antonio will have one the r acing MV triples for me to see.
Definitely no gloating here. I feel like one lucky bastard today. I put up the pics in case anyone was interested in old Italian bikes.
Can hardly wait to go back with Melissa to Antonio’s place in a couple of weeks and check out the MV racer. Agostini is one of Antonio’s mates, and reckons he should be able to get it, and we should be able to play with it for a bit. Really don’t know why he offered, and need to check with my mate Peter in Germany what he said that resulted in such incredible hospitality. I do feel a bit in awe of what I saw today. Communication was hard, and we settled on Google translator that Paula (his wife) did for us.
I asked Antonio about finding a 1974 MV750S for my mate Gunnar in Perth, and he told me that he could also arrange to have one built new from the original MV tooling. My God…
In an effort to satisfy Bly’s and Guy’s requests, we took some time to photograph some of the “wildlife” of Milan. I’m really hopeless at this, and needed help from Mel which we did trying not to look too stupid, but still getting shots for you guys to show you this part of Milan. The best shots of the ladies are below (Mel took one of these and spotted another), and she’ll do a post later for the girls of bike me in an effort to equalize things and keep it fun. It actually was fun trying to do this.
Just got the bike, and loading now for Andermatt, Switzerland. Bike is nearly new, tyres are 100% tread depth and am looking forward to wearing them out.
We decided on Andermatt for two nights based on the books you sent me showing the great roads around here. We got some dry sections last night, so this was fun and hopefully we’ll get some dry roads in today. It is a bit frustrating to be here with wet roads again this morning, but the option would be to not ride and stay in the hotel, and we certainly don’t want to do that.
The GS I hired is brilliant. Feels like my old 2006 model, only better in every way. Really enjoying it.
The few riders that were out yesterday were mostly German or Swiss, and they all were riding slowly – I guess in keeping with the conditions.
We met a couple of Aussie guys last night whom by all reports, are pretty good riders, so we’ve asked them to come along. It’s been two days for me in Switzerland so far and I haven’t been booked by the local Polizei, and I figure the more targets around for the Swiss Police to pick on, Mel and I have a better chance of being left alone. That’s a good theory innit ?
Dan, if you read this thread, I’m really looking for advice on how to best use this Go Pro to give something of interest. It’s mounted to the helmet at the moment, but could pretty much go anywhere, and was also thinking what interactions do we have as motorcyclists that of interest? I know watching someone else’s helmet mounted maintain pass video is going to send people to sleep, but what else? Like I said previously, with no experience, nor a natural skill, it’s hard to know when to put the camera on, and then what to point it on. If you get a chance, then maybe just a list of words that will give me some ideas.
Yesterday was a great day, but ended up too be long because of the Ducati breakdown and we also took too long for lunch.
We are in Davos this morning, which is a beautiful little town near the Austrian/German border, and as such the hotel has all the good German breads this morning for breakfast.
The GS is running superbly, no complaints about Bavaria’s finest as yet – and it’s getting hammered through the passes. No one has been able to overtake our little band of Aussies, including the young lads on the crotch rockets. The ability of a GS to be able to hold pace, two up continues to amaze me.
Mel and I are also traveling well, although in hindsight Roger and I should of planned for a couple of castle stops, but we planned to ride the roads, not get a history lesson. The ladies are fine with this, and neither have complained at all, but it does mean they’re stuck on the back for hours on end of tight twisting mountain passes, with no break. We might start early and take a couple of breaks during the day to make it a little easier.
Will mount the camera on helmet for Stelvio today, so I can post. Helmet cams don’t really give a good feel for pace and lean angle, because I always keep my head close to vertical no matter what the lean angle, so I was thinking it would be better mounted to the bike – which I did yesterday, but video is now 90 degrees out.
After 30 years on the bike, I think today is the best day ever (yes, two up with Mel). Stelvio was great, but only a part of the day.
Will report in more detail when I can.
For any motorcycling couple you must do this one day track before you die, and stay here…..it’s an incredible experience.
B&B Adelche, San Giovanni Bianco, IT
Via Coast San Gallo
San Giovanni Bianco
Bergamo, Lombardy, Italia
Ph: +39 33 9247 9553
This is a few pics of yesterday when we did Stelvio and a lot more. We spent around 10 hours on the bikes, but when we got here, it was so beautiful that we were up until late to enjoy it.
We have done so much over the last few days, and covered around 2,500kms to date. It’s been hard riding nearly all the way, and the bikes have spent most of the time in the lower half of the gearbox hard on the edge of the tyres.
Mel has been great on the back, and is spending her time spotting for cars through the hairpins because I can’t take my eyes off the road to see that far ahead – this helps a lot with pace through the turns.
We stayed in a royal palace, and had the porter valet park our bikes, and unload our panniers and top box.
We got the Ducati going again, but it had to go back home to the hotel in Arabba, right in the heart of the Dolomites.
When you make to the Dolomites, I can recommend Arabba as a place to stay – it’s motorcycle central, and even the cops seem to want you there.
Yesterday was another brilliant day, and we did the entire track as planned, and drank beer and whisky until late
Internet access is a bit hard here in Slovenia, but it makes up for it by being so beautiful.
Too tired and too much red wine to post much tonight.
Just enough to say that we should have planned for more time in Slovenia, as it is such a beautiful country.
We’re heading out on 550km ride back to Milan tomorrow, and have to go home.
The ride yesterday back to Milan was uneventful, albeit very long 600km of autostrada.
This morning I went to see my new friend Antonio Scabari.
Antonio is a 6 times Italian touring car champion, driving for the Alfa Romeo factory, and raced in the US for a long time as well, also with Alfa. His passion however is bikes, and he also raced bikes against his friends Giacomo Agostini and Graziano Rossi in Italy. His favorite all time racer is Mike Hailwood, and we share that view.
You might remember I met him a couple of weeks ago, and he promised to have a factory racing MV Agusta for me to see when I got back. I told him not to go to any trouble, but he did it anyway.
And from Richard, a quick run-down in case you ever do the ride…
The primary source of info for planning was Hermann’s book The Alps and Beyond (Whitehorse Press). It’s fantastic as far as detailing good routes is concerned, though a bit ‘American’ in flavour. His maps are horrible. I needed to use the book and make constant reference to a good map to be able to plot the route for each day for the GPS. I use TyretoTravel – freeware that makes route plotting much simpler than trying to do it using Google or the GPSitself. If you want to base yourself somewhere and do rides in the area, the book is great, but if you want to ride from one end of the Alps to the other it’s not at all user-friendly.