A nice sensible run this year doing a tour of Europe with an eye on a visit to Asolo in Italy
June 2012 - Just when the Euro football championship is taken place, Spain won this one

Route overview - start in Spain finish in Netherlands, 3140 miles

After a hard few years bashing around more hazardous places such as India, Chernobyl and Tunisia a decision was taken to keep it simple and have a plod around Europe and a play on a few of the better roads it has to offer.

We had looked at the Crimea but the Euro championship were on at the same time. This had caused a problem in accommodation being found.

A decision was made to wing it through Europe. The only place cased in stone was a visit to the Scarpa boot factory in Asolo Italy.

Day 01/02:- South Shields to Portsmouth
Miles: 350 Time: 5 hours Moving Ave: 70mph Wx: it did not rain


A long run south and then 32 hours on a ferry, 2 nights a chance to recharge talk about what is to come and prepares us for an early start at Bilbao.

An easy run set off in good time and it stayed dry. The highlight of the day was arriving with enough time to visit the indian restaurant close to the port rather than face ferry food for 2 nights. Excellent decision fine food and the a ferry delay made it all worthwhile.

The blank day on Monday would be wasted talking about where and when and the weather, the weather it was felt would play a big part in the enjoyment of this trip and the excellent roads it has to offer.

Day 03 :-Tuesday 19th June 2012:- Potes, Spain
Miles: 253 Time: 6hrs plus Moving Ave: 39mph Wx: dry,wet,sun

One day I will bring my hiking boots

Back of the hotel Casa Cayo

It took a while to work it out however Neil became an expert with the cider pouring press

what a dining room at the hotel Casa Cayo ...help yourself ??

An early morning departure from the boat (7.30 local time) and head west to the Pico's De Europe national park and after a loop around the whole park including a couple of excursions to the Cores Gorge and to the cable car station at Fente De we would find a bed in Potes at the Casa Cayo hotel. A wonderful spot visited by myself on several previous excursions.
The next highlight would be watching England qualify leaders of the group in the Euro 2012 championship.
Day 04 :-Wednesday 20 June 12 : St Jean Pied De Port , France
Miles: 243 Time: moving 4h 11m (5h 41m) Moving Ave: 58mph Wx: up to 32.5c sunny

Casa Cayo , Potes a wonderful hotel

Potes town center

A late start from Potes as I don't want to leave. The road out of the Pico's in nice twisty with excellent views. After that it was motorway and after Bilbao it became expensive motorway. It was nice to reach 200 miles and turn off and head for St Jean P Du Port.

It was busy here and the first 2 hotels were full. The one we ended up in was very poor to say the least.

That night it went from being hot and sunny 32c to torrential Rain and lightening.

Day 05 :-Thursday 21 June 2012 : Vielha, Catalunya, Spain
Miles: 190 Time: 6hr (8h 41m) Moving Ave: 32mph Wx: sunny, 22c - 32c

A popular pass in the Pyrenees for bikes

And one more

The same one

The sign says it all

A good day and an early start to beat the heat. The pace was very slow as we had 7 passes to cross along the Pyrenees before ending up back in Spain. Most of the Cols are used in the Tour De France and as such were very busy with cyclists. Today's run although less than 200 miles was very tiring, I don't think we had more than a mile of straight road all day, bikers paradise.

The weather was kind today with only a bit wind on the tops to contend with. Vielha looked quiet with most of the trade in the winter.

Day 06 :- Friday 22 June 2012 : Orange, France
Miles: 310 Time: 4h 50m (8h 20m) Moving Ave: 66mph Wx: 13c to hot 33c

map day 6
Today's Ride

Orange has many Roman bits, this theatre the biggest outside of Rome

A decision to cut out the passes to Andorra and make directly for Orange using mainly the peage. This would allow us to reach Lauterbrunnen on time. It just was not possible to do it all.

The first 30 miles was great but once you hit the peage it gets boring and the only thing that changed was the temperature, from leaving the hotel at 13c it quickly rose by lunchtime to 33c. The an accident took the speed down to walking pace until we used the hard shoulder. Just as well as the jam lasted 9 miles until we seen the remains of a burned out bus, only the frame remained, what a mess.

Orange returned our budget on its head as the bargain price of 60 euros last night rose to 150 euros for tonight's Best Western offering, still it was nice and in a good location,

Day 07/08 :- Sat/Sun 23/24 June 2012 : Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Miles: 380 Time: 6h 35m (10h 17m) Moving Ave: 47mph Wx: sunny 25c

map day 7
A good distance covered today

Nice views started today again

Chamonix Mont Blanc

The day off and it's off to visit the Jungfrauroch

The top at nearly 12000 foot

Inside the station and its many attractions

The Monch and Neil posing

Billy's turn

Time too share the photo

A pair of Brits dafter than us

Well we had billed the ride Scarpa 2012 tour, so show them off

Back inside the attractions, this time Ice sculptor

Posing with the flag
It just went on

On the way down and the north face of the Eiger in the background

Kleine Scheidegg station and more Eiger

Departing train to Grindlewald from Kleine Scheidegg

An excellent day, on leaving Orange and doing a few miles heading for Briancon and taking 2 days to reach Lauterbrunnen, I had a change of mind. Why not turn around kill the miles on the peage and reach Lauterbrunnen in one day.

Why, well a train in the Swiss alps (Jungfrau region) takes you too the top of the Jungfrauroch at 11333 foot and Neil had never had this experience before. We had checked the weather and Sunday would be nice and Monday rain.The journey is billed as the "Top of Europe".

In effect we would be reaching Lauterbrunnen 2 days ahead of our original plan, one day to do the train and another to take more time reaching Asolo.

The ride worked out well peage to Annecy then head for Chamonix Mont Blanc and off the peage and enjoy the run to Matingny, then join Swiss motorway briefly before heading across country to Interlaken and onto Lauterbrunnen.This was not in the planning. However the GPS took us over wonderful Swiss countryside a pass or two before rejoining the main road 70 miles later into Interlaken. The road was very busy hundreds of bikes and a classic car run was heading in the opposite direction. Testament to the quality of this route.

Lauterbrunnen was reached about 6pm and another hour would be spent looking for hotels which on this nice weekend were busy, An earlier acquaintance in town Regula who runs a lovely watch and knife shop was on hand to help.

Sunday rest day was used to visit Jungfrauroch by train and the highest railway station in Europe at 11333 ft (3454m).

The weather was excellent allowing for world beating views of the mountains and valleys below. Recession has not hit this railway experience yet and in 2011 it boasts 760,000 visitors.

Day 09 :- Monday 25 June 2012 : St Anton , Austria
Miles: 198 Time: 5 hrs (7h 7m) Moving Ave: 40 mph Wx: rain 50%

It was this deep on leaving Interlaken and heading for the Susten pass

And a bit misty on top

The views got better on the way down

Then the train (Glassier Express) arrived

Andermatt and Fran doing a solo to Australia

A late start to allow it to clear, which in a way worked a little and allowed the journey to take us the Sustern pass and a stop off at Andermatt where we met a girl Fran in her 20s from Cambridge doing a solo trip to Australia alone. she was well planned and spending 8 months to accomplish her mission.

It was the onto Chur for this part of the journey from Lauterbrunnen was good mountain roads. Chur is an ugly looking place on the outside where it started to rain which would then continue solid for next 2 hours or more before we reached tonight's bed at St Anton.

The road from Chur was mainly motorway apart from the run into St Anton which I guess would have been excellent had we been able to see more the 50 or so meters into the rain and mist.

It was 7pm before we finally killed the engines and started the process of hanging out wet over suits to dry. Luckily the water penetration to skin was my hands.The owner was kind and we parked the bikes in his garage.

St Anton was super quiet as it usually is this time of year. I caught Neil asking for the bill from the restaurant at 10pm, was he tired? or wanting to let the staff go home early? Not a chance as I asked for one more beer.

Day 10 :- Tuesday 26 June 12: Bressanone , Italy
Miles: 140 Time: 4 hrs (6h 54m) Moving Ave: 35mph Wx: dry sunny 10c - 29c

Timmelsjoch pass, and time for heated grips, it would rise to 28c very quickly.

Well it looked damp at breakfast but was dry by the time I wasted an hour eating it. The Guest house accommodation had been excellent. Bacon and eggs if you wanted the first in a week all for 35euros .

Off we went using non motorway to reach the start of day proper which would take us over the Timmelsjoch pass over 2500 meters up. The road was fantastic and I had previously done this in the opposite direction and cant remember having to pay €12 each for the privilege. Any way it is nice and the top is also the border between Austria and Italy.

It was then a left turn from the foot of the pass and up and over Jaufenpass a small one at 2100m before heading for an early finish at Bressanone,Italy for an early night. The temperature had now rising from 10c on the top of the pass to 29c in the town.

The town of Bressanone is also known as Brixan which is its German name as this part of Italy is in the German speaking sector.

Day 11/12 :- Wed/Thur 27/28 June 2012 : Asolo , Italy
Miles: 150 Time: 4h 23m (6h) Moving Ave: 33mph Wx: hot sunny 33c

A nicer pass top , I could spend a month here


It said closed, but we went on and guess what!!

Asolo a quaint old place

Asolo in the morning sun

Outside Scarpa and ready for our visit

Neil With the Sandro Scarpa's CEO and his father still working at 85, that generation do not retire

Another of Neil's suppliers is Alpinestars next door to Scarpa , 2 birds one stone

Always ready for the top of the table...what a room

Vittels racing suit and so many more in here. A wonderful product and company

And all the toys...this bike won this years Dakar Rally

Then the specialist footwear department at Alpinestars, spot any names

Asolo center, we even took a bus from here honest

After a late start due to a walk about around the old town and even a church visit we set off at 10.30 for what was planned as an easy 126 miles into Asolo we were in a shock. Slow going over the passes was made worse when the second one of the day was closed and were turned back this would add 20 miles and an hour to the journey.

Then came a cycle race to navigate to slow us down before hitting the town of Asolo and finding a bed would add a further hour to the day. All in all it was after 5m before we unloaded the bike from the public car park that threatened to tow the vehicles away if the correct ticket was not displayed.

The town very small and historical only has 4 hotels with one off these being 2 miles out are all expensive and on this occasion three out of four were full. The town also has no taxis.

The town and its narrow streets made navigation difficult and the town is a lot smaller than I had imagined. Anyway rest day tomorrow and a visit to Scarpa factory at 10am is our main focus.

The tour of the factory was fantastic and very interesting and we were amazed at how much work and skill goes into the production of a pair of shoes or boots. The added bonus was that Sandro the CEO was our guide, also amazing was that his father at the age of 85 was still on the factory floor.

It was then off to the European headquarters of Alpinestars to see the development of new products and the testing off all aspects of design and manufacture. We even managed to squash in a visit to their production of one off tailor made suits for all the racing stars that use their products. Attention to detail was unbelievable even down to moulds of their feet producing individual lasts.

As we were transported to lunch the temperature was 37c. So pleased it was a rest from the bike suit today.The evening would be spent in the village square watching Italy play Germany in the semi finals of Euro 2012.

Day 13 :- Friday 29 June 2012 : Cortina, Dolomites, Italy
Miles: 163 Time: 5h 15m (8h 28m) Moving Ave: 31mph Wx: sunny 28c - 31c

Another Asolo shot from our hotel window

The first pass of the day

Dam and a dam good view

And one more pass

Nice views

And more

Last time it was a cow

It was a heavy day on the eyes today

At the second time of trying to get to the top we found an open road

The lift went from the top of the pass straight up

10pm and the start of the ultra trail 120km 20,000ft ascent race, won in under 12 and a half hours

A long day in the seat for what should have been an easy day. But what wonderful miles . Not sure but I think we went over 7 passes all about 2000m or higher.

This being my first trip to the Dolomites and I was keen to see what it had to offer. I was not disappointed.

The first hotel we choose was the on we stopped at and what a choice.

Then off to the town where we found the town very busy as a race was to start at 10pm, a 120km hill race which included 20,000 of accent, sadly my fell running shoes where back at home. around 600 people started this grueling course, unbelievable .

Day 14 :- Saturday 30 June 2012 : Mayrhofen, Austria
Miles: 135 Time: 3h 27m (5h 41m) Moving Ave: 39mph Wx: V hot 36c = mad

We went back in the morning to see the winner from Spain taking a bow before crossing the line

We even blagged our own enclosure thanks to Neil's connection

Our hotel had outstanding views

Lienz osttirodler and a new one on me, up in the cable car and back in a cart

Excellent fun and views, you control the speed

Neil at the end 2.7km in length what a laugh

On the way to Mayrhofen we passes a waterfall, terrible photo being the 5th highest in the world, 57000litres of water per second in the summer, only 350 liters in the winter.

After a good night watching the start of the race we decided to call back into town to watch the finish and the start of the smaller 50km mountain race at 9am.

The 50 km race had a lot more takers and the town was a bit of a buzz on a lovely summers day. This place is fantastic the mountain views in all directions whereas I say Chamonix is the Keswick of France only bigger then this is the Keswick of Italy.

At just before 10.30am the winner of the ultimate 120km race came in he looked no different then when he set off. He beat the number 2 by about 20 minutes.

It was 11.30 before we set off from our cool underground garage showing 20c by the time we had left town it was on 29c and this would quickly rise to 34c and finally setting the tour record at 36c.

I thought a hairdryer was going through my helmet vents at times. The road away from Cortina is as good as you get over one more pass before entering Austria and into Lienz where I spotted a cable car heading up the mountain and a cart type ride set to rails that you controlled yourself (well the brake bit) it cost 10 euros and is probably the best I have spent in a long time 2.7 km of fun in a cart

The day was cut short at 130 miles we also decided to swap the Grosglokner pass for the Felbetauer tunnel and a slight diversion made into Mayrhofen, this would use up our free day and leave a nice run into Garnisch the following day. It was still 5.30pm before we finally removed the burning bucket from our heads for the last time. It must be tiring as Neil has just keeled over in the chair fast asleep at 6pm, must be having a power nap !!

Day 15 :- Sunday 1 July 2012 : Garmisch-Partenkirchen , Germany
Miles: 71mph Time: 1h 50m (2h 51m) Moving Ave: 39mph Wx: sunny 30c

Garnisch in the rain, 5pm and we had finished for the day, just as well this was bad.

An easy day having split the original into two, so here we are in hotel for 2pm only to find the room unmade from previous. What else to do but take refuge in the bar till it's sorted.

The day was started with an hour walk about in Mayrhofen sadly being a Sunday all the shops were closed and the gift shopping was put on hold and the town was over run with walkers heading for the cables cars to get a start in the mountains. A lovely spot and plenty of reasons to return. Including the many pints of weissbeer the night before. I must have known the day would be easy.

The ride out was on good roads and faster than previous, will still many good views on route to the German boarder followed by a ride through a national park and into Garnisch for our last proper night, after this it will become a slog on the Autobahn to complete the last 600 miles to the ferry.

Day 16 :- Monday 2 July 2012 : Boppard am Rhein, Germany
Miles: 340 Time: 5h 35m (7h 21m) Moving Ave: 61mph Wx: 15% rain max 20c

Boppard am Rhein

Well back to normal temperatures and just as well as we had 330 or more mile to do today. It was one of those days dry wet dry wet, over suits on over suits off.

Plenty of road works on route and from a 8.30am we docked on Boppard at just after 4pm.

Very quiet in town as the weather was on the cautious side of wet.Not a bad night, meal in quaint spot then off to a small German bar sharing the crack with a few bikers from Derbyshire who had bikes but sounded like they preferred river cruses and train rides than riding bikes. (that will teach them for saying BMW GS's are not proper bikes.)

Day 17 :- Tuesday 3 July 2012 : Ferry Ijmuiden, Holland
Miles: 248 Time: 3h 55m (5h 51m) Moving Ave: 63mph Wx: sunny max 25c

Hotel parking Boppard am Rhine, motel style room (Neil said converted garages)

Chippy Ijmuiden and bikes looking well after 3000 plus miles

A 9.15 start to hit the ferry , I wanted to leave at 10 so I could catch the jewelers open for a gift for my wife . However Neil insisted we left early so we could spend 2 hours in a McDonalds later in the day waiting for the ferry.

Oh well excellent run in the dry and the GPS decided to route us a totally different way that previous years, so used to the McDonalds in Venlo.

Arrived in Ijmuiden just past 2pm plenty of time for the final fish and chips before diet proper starts tomorrow.

Day 18 :- Home
Staying at
1 350 350 Portsmouth - Bilbao uk   Y(£) Brittany Ferry The bikes are tied for you  
2 0   at sea all day         not a bad crossing  
3 253 603 Potes Spain €55 Y Casa Cayo Excellent hospitality  
4 243 850 St Jean Pied Du Port France €94 N Continental Poor , good parking  
5 190 1040 Vielha, Catalunya Spain €60 Y Acevi Smart , new. parking on front  
6 310 1350 Orange France €150 Y Best Western .Arene Nice Location is the key  
7/8 380 1730 Lauterbrunnen Swiss €142 Y Oberland Good location,Okay,Friendly  
9 198 1928 St Anton Austria €70 Y Hotel Garni Sann Nice guest house, soft towels  
10 140 2068 Breeanone/Brixan Italy €100 Hotel Goldness Rossi Nice close to town  
11/12 150 2218 Asolo Italy €120 Y Hotel Duse Quaint small Center of town  
13 163 2381 Cortina, Dolomites Italy €100 Y Franceschi Park A good find close to town  
14 135 2516 Mayrhofen Austria €85 N Monika Guesthouse A nice b&b close to center  
15 71 2585 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany €102 Y Atlas Posthotel Location location  
16 340 2925 Boppard am Rhein Germany €85 Y Ebertor Different motel style  
17 248 3174 Ijumden Holland   N DFDS Seaways well its a cabin, tired  
18 5 3170 Home UK     mileage per bike trip 3140  

Country currency fuel beer
Home pound £1.39 £2.80
Spain euro (1.20 = £1) £1.12 £1.60-£2.40
France euro £1.40 £4.00-£5.00
Switzerland Franc (1.45 = £1) £1.30 £3.40-£4.00
Austria euro £1.15 £4
Italy euro £1.50 ouch £3.00- £3.50
Germany euro £1.30 £2.70
Holland euro £1.50  

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