Alps Solo Adventure Motorcycle Ride
What could be the reason to prompt a rider to go do an Alps Solo Adventure Motorcycle Ride? Having Lone Rider wishes? Wanting to go for hairpin turns before departing into the sunset?
For me, it was neither of those.
Leaving The Pandemic Behind
After the trip to Nordkapp in 2019, passing through 16 European countries, I had become addicted to long-distance motorcycle travel. To “feed” my addiction ( a very healthy one, by the way), I had planned a new adventure motorcycle ride, and this time the idea was to go East to the Balkans, riding through 12 different countries.
One day I’ll ride them all!
Except, this time around, it didn’t work out exactly or anywhere near what I have planned.
The result was what everyone already knows. We all got stuck at home because of the Coronavirus.
After so much time in pandemic lockdown and being confined to my backyard for a glimpse of riding an adventure motorcycle, I needed a new challenge. Covid-19 is a pain.
It messed up my 2020 riding plans and keeps trying to undermine the ones made for 2021.
Thought about pouring gallons of water, and a ton of gravel and dirt on the lawn, creating a few potholes and jumps.
Backyard camping through the night after setting fire to remaining wood logs from last winter and feasting on some canned beans warmed up over the open fire. Heck! While I was at it, I could throw in some marshmallows as well.
Then I dropped my delusional mental creations and realized my relationship with my neighbors would suffer a downwards fall that no protective gear would save.
After coming to terms with reason, I realized it wasn’t the brightest idea I’d ever had. I also noted that curiously enough, “reason” seems to be around at the same time my wife is. I can’t quite grasp the meaning of it, but I’m guessing they must be friends.
Anyway, in mid-August, some of the existing border restrictions were lifted, at least in Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland. Once again, I started getting nervous at home. When I saw the opportunity, I just started to pack. Deciding the destination was a no-brainer. I would ride the covid restriction-free Europe.
It was time to choose the route, and that was the easiest task I had in months. Just by looking at the map, a few places popped out right in front of my eyes, ultimately creating a line to follow along with my BMW R 1200 GS.
Andorra, St Tropez, Monaco, Bellagio, Passo de lo Stelvio, Furka Pass, Grimsel Pass, something Pass, and any signs with Pass written on were mine to ride.
What I wasn’t willing to pass was the chance to get out on an adventure motorcycle travel. There was a sign in my mind that said leave now before they close the borders again.
All in all, it was a 3510mi/5650 km journey of unforgettable landscapes. Through the Alps and glacial valleys, within the constraints and time frame that I had.
The Route – Stage By Stage
With only 9 days to ride, my goal was to enjoy the ride the most that I could. After all nobody knew if the border restrictions would be imposed again, and if so, when would it happen.
Stage 1 – Lisbon / Andorra
I left Lisbon and headed straight to Andorra, crossing Spain on an eastward motion with a lot of freeways. So there is not much to tell. Around 775miles/1250kms done in one single stretch.
The night was spent at a campsite in Andorra la Vella waiting and recharging energy for the following day.
Stage 2 – Andorra / Montpellier
Left Andorra la Vella through Pas de la Casa and crossed the beautiful Catalan Pyrenees. The “Pirineos Catalanes” roads gave me a glimpse of the fun I was headed for once I reached the Alps. This lesser-known region of Spain to the mass tourism that flows systematically to the south also has some very enjoyable motorcycle riding routes like the N-260.
After the Pyrenees crossing, I headed for the coast where I started touring my way on to Montpellier.
The night was again spent on a campsite nearby.
Stage 3 – Montpellier/ Roquebrune-sur-Argens
From Montpellier, I had my mind focused on reaching Côte D’Azur, and ride near the coastline. That was the goal for the end of stage 3. Meanwhile, I still had to get there. On the way passed Marseille, and the Provence region. Could be telling you about the stunning fields and postcard picture-perfect colors that resemble a photoshop composite (or is it the other way around?), but again, the motorcycle-riding was what I was missing.
At the end of the riding day, I did a small detour to go to St Tropez.
Camping Vaudois was my home away from home that night. Bike plus tend equal home for that matter.
Stage 4 – Roquebrune-sur-Argens/ Cannes / Monaco / Vigevano
With the Camping Vaudois behind, I continued motorcycle touring the French Riviera. Seaside on the Côte D’Azur riding east to Cannes and Monaco. Finally leaving France, I crossed the Italian borderline at the St Ludovic Frontier Post.
What followed was a ride down the coastline to San Remo with a detour to Lake Osiglia before heading to Savona and then riding north to Vigevano on the outskirts of Milan. There, I would spend the night at Hotel del Parco with a little more comfort than in the previous nights
Stage 5 – Vigevano / Lago di Como / Stelvio Pass / Trafoi
Leaving the Milan surroundings with my eyes set on the Stelvio Pass prize, I made my way into the Lago di Como area. Como was the first stop, next Bellagio, and I ended up riding all the contours of Lake Como from the south.
After that, the riding direction shifted north/northeast to Bormio.
I’ve been waiting for a long time for the opportunity to ride the Stelvio Pass. “Ill Passo Dello Stelvio”, as the locals say, is a well-known route tremendously popular among motorcycle riders for its switchbacks. Actually, I’m pretty sure that its 48 hairpin turns earned Stelvio Pass the statute of Europe’s most iconic mountain road.
Amazing experience, and a lucky one also. The Stelvio wasn’t as crowded as it could be, and I was able to enjoy the ride without being in the crowd.
Into Trafoi for the night at Camping Trafoi.
Stage 6 – Trafoi/ Flüela Pass/Liechtenstein/ Tujetsch
The night in Trafoi was harder than I expected. Not because it was extremely cold, but because of the temperature drop in the night. I guess the hotel comfy night left me spoiled. Lesson learned. Next time I’ll bring a thermal blanket.
Leaving Trafoi, headed for Flüela Pass in the Swiss Alps. A breathtaking road, with wide sweeping bends and beautiful valley views. The bends tighten a bit towards the end but it never so much that it breaks the riding rhythm. After Davos at the end of Flüela Pass, I saw a sign that said Liechtenstein. Why not? One more place checked.
Next stop and the final one for stage 6, Tujetsch. And one more night out motorcycle camping, this time in Camping Viva.
Stage 7 – Tujetsch / Oberalp Pass / Furka Pass / Grimsel Pass / Interlaken / Jaun Pass / Montreux – Lake Léman / Martigny / Chamonix-Mont Blanc / Albertville
Leaving camping viva in Tujetsch, I was on for a day of Pass, Pass, and more Passes.
Oberalp Pass being the first, followed Furka Pass, Grimsel Pass, and probably some other Passes that I didn’t realize riding through because of the similarity of the bends and the landscape.
After riding by Interlaken, Jaun Pass was next.
It was time to start riding down to Montreux on the sides of Lake Léman, then Martigny and reentering France through Chamonix-Mont Blanc.
After the Swiss Alps Pass frenzy, I finally stopped for the night in Albertville.
Stage 8 – Albertville / Biarritz
In Albertville, I treated myself to a hotel. The comfort of an actual bed is somewhat nice now and then, and the argument of having more than 800mi/1300km to make in the final sector got the best of me.
On the way to Biarritz, I rode by Avignon, again Montpellier and Toulouse.
A Nearby campsite was the night stop choice.
Stage 9 – Biarritz / Lisbon
Stage 9 and final has got more miles than stories associated. Hopped over to San Sebastián, Valladolid, Salamanca before entering Portugal. And finally headed back home on a long stage that didn’t break my will to keep on riding to new places.
As I always say, if I’m healthy and riding a motorcycle… well… I’m happy!
See you on our next adventure!