I’m the kind of person that once I get an idea in my head I’ll obsess over it while I work out if it’s possible to do, or is in fact worth doing. This was pretty much how things went when I decided to do the Swiss Alps in a long weekend!
Living in North Devon we are blessed with some great roads in and around my local area but I just fancied a change of scenery. Some of my friends go skiing a lot in Switzerland in the winter and I had sean their photos on Facebook and I had put it on my bucket list of places to ride a motorcycle. The original plan was to do it as part of a tour in 2017. But as I mentioned at the beginning, the idea started to grow and as I’m always looking for new challenges I decided to do it on my first available weekend. This was the weekend commencing 23rd September 2016. Just two weeks after my initial thoughts of the trip.
So I had a lot of planning to do. I booked the EuroTunnel via the website. Booked a hotel in Andermatt via one of the discount booking websites and set the route in my sat nav.
I took the straightest route possible to Andermatt. Heading to Folkestone on the motorway and straight through France towards Switzerland. I’m not going to lie, it was a long bloody way but I made it to my friends place in Valais one piece. After a great home cooked meal and a couple of glasses of Swiss red wine I settled down for the night excited to head towards Andermatt the next day.
I awoke early and headed out of a walk in the pine scented hills. It smelt just like Christmas and it was easy to see why Switzerland is popular with mountain bikers and hikers in the summer months. After breakfast I said fair well to my friends and head the two hours to Andermatt.
I had planned my route to the hotel via the Fukra Pass. What can I say about the Furka? It’s absolutely amazing. Tight, narrow and filled with switchback hairpins that test your riding ability. But it wasn’t just the road that stunned. The scenery was also amazing. Glacier capped mountains were just too much of a distraction so I cut the pace I was riding at and soaked in the views instead of risking certain death by not giving the roads the attention and respect that they demand.
A full nights sleep and a hearty breakfast of cheese, bread and of course some Swiss muesli in the hotel and I donned my leathers and went down to the bike that was safe and secure in the underground garage.
Cameras rolling and it was off back down the Furka and then the Nufenen Pass. At 2,748 metres above sea level the Nufenen Pass is Switzerland’s highest pass open to motor vehicles. With a small lake and a restaurant/gift shop at the top is was the perfect place to stop for a coffee and some cake while drinking in the epic views.
Whilst standing stunned by the scenery I got talking to some local bikers who had noticed the GB badge on my number plate and they were impressed that I’d traveled so far to see the Alps. Either that, or they thought I was crazy for heading to the Alps on a sports bike!
One of the guys I was talking to, another S1000RR owner, was actually born in Brazil but moved to Switzerland just so he could ride the Alps on his weekends off from work. Now that is commitment. But if I didn’t have the commitments I have in the UK I would be tempted to do the same.
From the peak of the Nufenen it was all downhill as I headed to Airolo. It was on this road that I really started to feel how hard it was to do these kind of roads on a sports bike. Normally I don’t have any issues with by bodyweight being thrown onto my wrists but after an endless succession of downhill hairpin followed downhill hairpin and I was suffering. Still you pays your money and you pays your choice. So I decided to zip my man suit up and cracked on towards Tremola.
From Tremola it was on to the St Gotthard Pass, the Susten Pass and the Grimsel Pass before heading back to the hotel via the Furka.
Thinking back to the trip while I write this just makes me want to get back on the bike and do it all again as I felt the time I had just wasn’t enough to fully appreciate the roads and the breath taking views. In an ideal world I’d spend a full day riding each pass from dusk til dawn because I don’t think I could ever get bored of them. The only thing I would do differently would be to go in a less extreme bike.
All in all it was an amazing adventure. Stunning scenery, amazing roads, great cafes and very friendly people which I hope I’ve captured in the video above.
Maverick Vinales’ topped the time sheets a setting a fastest lap of 1:30.930 as he made an impressive debut on the factory Yamaha YZR-M1.
Valentino Rossi slotted into second with Jorge Lorenzo rounding out the top three on his debut on the Ducati Desmosedici.
Marc Marquez was forth quickest riding the 2017 spec Honda that sounds like it has revised firing order which they hope will solve some of the issues they had in 2016.
I was out testing a BMW S1000XR in the rain when I got a little side tracked, went of tangent a little and started talking about the biking brotherhood.
I often find that when I’m out on the sports bike that some bikers don’t return “the nod”. I don’t know if it’s an anti sports bike thing, or if the nod is just not the done thing any more.
Anyway, let me know your thoughts
Just when I thought I was “over” my sports bike love affair BMW pull me back in with the HP4 Race at the Milan Show
BMW’s President Stephan Schaller said “We want to show the world that we are ready to mass produce a carbon mainframe and that it is not just a hand-built prototype,”
HP4 project leader Christian Gonschor concluded “The bike is a kind of taste of the future and in the first half of next year we will reveal more information about the bike such as weight, specification, production volume and of course, price.”
It’s going to be well outside the depths of my pockets but it’s definitely something special.