Eastern Bloc & Switzerland
by Bill Schink
Here are a few of the 1500 pix I took on the Eastern bloc trip as well as the mostly French Alps.
We had one of the four bikes breakdown, an Honda African Twin in Iasi, Romania so had an early return to Switzerland on a jury-rigged fix. I had two flat tires, both rear (first in my lifetime.) The early return meant we had to spend 10 days riding passes in the Alps. What a shame!
The best day started in France, entered Italy, back to France, Italy again and then into Switzerland. Not a sign of a Border Guard at any crossing. The only way you knew you were in another country was by the language change on the signs. Highest pass was Isere at 2770 meters.
I rented the BMW 650 GS in Thun, Switzerland and put about 6K kilometers on it. Can you believe I finally got tired of riding passes? It became too much like work. You have to concentrate on the ride so much you can't enjoy the magnificent views. Many of the roads are one lane but driven both directions and include busses that often have to back up twice to make it around the switchbacks. There are no shoulders nor guardrails and often the potholes are unmissable (is that a word?). After you've done several days of this kind of riding, especially since your concentration is so focused on the ride that you've been unable to really enjoy the views, you begin to wonder if this is really fun, much like the little kid asking, "Dad, are we having fun yet?" Couple that with a couple of days of rain and clouds (fog) so thick you could only progress by hanging to the tail light of the guy in front of you. Work, I tell you, not play.
Would I do it again? Yes, but I'd definitely do it alone so I could stop and take a lot more pictures and enjoy the views. The Swiss guys I was with had lived in the Alps so long they were into the ride not the view. I can't blame them, it's just that I was on a different page. I figured it was a once in a life-time ride especially since I'm 74 but you know what? Now that I've done it once and lived through it, I'd like to do it again but on my terms and at my pace. I'd stop and smell the roses a helluva lot more. I suppose that's what getting older and wiser does t
o/for you. Bill