Riding Switzerland On Your Own
by Craig Littlefield
†††† All of us have dreamed of taking an Edelweiss or Beach tour of the Alps. Take your favorite guy or girl along and for only $9000 you can spend 10 days in the Alps on the motorcycle of your choice. They take care of everything. They will greet you at the airport, lead you to a nice hotel and send you on your way. They haul your luggage and are at the designated location that evening ready to take you to dinner.
†††† For some of us that is not the way we like to travel. I find that planning a trip is almost as much fun as going on it. Some people go on tours and they canít even tell you where they have been. I also do not like traveling with a group of people that I donít know. I find excitement in laying out a route, following it and then dealing with all the things that go wrong. Paying $900 a day to have someone tell me where to go doesnít excite me much either.
†††† This past June my wife Jan and I went to the Alps on a motorcycle. With the help of the Internet I did all the planning and it went flawlessly. I would like to give you some hints with the hope that you may do the same.
†††† The first thing to do is buy a book,† Motorcycle Journeys Through the Alps by John Hermann. If you arenít excited about the trip after reading this book you donít really like motorcycling. It describes and rates 265 passes in the Swiss, Austrian and French Alps. To read it you would think that the Alps have been designed for motorcycles and that motorcycles have claimed the mountains. That is true.
†††† I went through the book writing down the passes that interested me. There are so many that it requires making some choices. I laid out a route where I could maximize the number of good passes. We chose to stay in each city two nights and do loops on the in between days. That worked out great as the distances are small and there are great passes everywhere.
†††† I arranged to pick up a motorcycle in Munich through AdMo tours. They contract with a small individually owned shop in Munich that does nothing but rent bikes. He had 35 large displacement bikes, all brand new. I reserved a R1200GS. It had just had itís 600-mile service. When we turned it back in it had 2900 more kilometers. It came with new saddlebags and a new tank bag. The bike was $1140 for 10 days. I suspect there are ways to get one even cheaper but that was reasonable and reliable. Edelweiss rents bikes too but for a lot more money. Do some research on the Internet.
†††† We made all our room reservations before leaving. Most of the rooms were with Best Western. I just called their 800 number here in the states.† There are member hotels throughout Europe that are wonderful. They are all 3 and 4 star hotels and were mostly restored historic hotels.† We stayed in the center of each town so we could walk to dinner and walk the town at night. Hotels in Europe are expensive. Correct that. Everything in Europe is expensive. You can figure that everything is about twice as much as it costs in the States. Our rooms averaged about $150 a night. Gas is $6 a gallon. Still, by using our frequent flier miles for airfare, we did the whole trip for about $3500. You could surely find less expensive rooms.
†††† We flew to Munich and stayed the first night there. We had all our motorcycle gear in one bag and our personal things in two other suitcases. We left the suitcases at the hotel and loaded the bike. We returned to the same hotel after touring.
†††† Riding in the Alps is wonderful. We did the mountains of Austria, the Dolomites of Italy and the Alps of central and eastern Switzerland. We could have spent another ten days doing western Switzerland and the French Alps. We saved that for another trip.† The roads are in excellent shape with very little traffic. On the passes there are more motorcycles than cars. Riding carefully is wise however as the roads and markings are unfamiliar and most Europeans are good yet assertive drivers. There are also some road surfaces unfriendly to motorcycles. We did over forty mountain passes. The riding is a motorcyclist paradise. It is mostly tight roads with a lot of switchbacks. The GS was an excellent choice. The scenery is breathtaking.
†††† If you are serious about motorcycle riding you have to at least once in your life ride the Alps. With the availability of the Internet and the motorcycle friendly people and places in Europe, it is enjoyable and affordable vacation. If you have any questions I would be glad to help. You can see more photos by visiting my website at http://home.comcast.net/~craig.littlefield/photos/switzerland/switzerland.htm.