Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On Due Ruote in Italy

I have resurfaced. Hopefully, for good. Things seem to have evened out a bit.

I've been anxious to get back. I miss reading about your goings-on. Plus, I have so many pictures to share that normal people just won't appreciate. By "normal," I mean non-riders. You know that, right?

Italy was an adventure. A good adventure, of course. Hubby and I were curious to see to see how well we would manage in a foreign country where neither of us speak either of the languages. Most of Northern Italy speaks German, not Italian. In and around the big cities and touristy areas, there's always someone who speaks English. But we weren't spending a lot of time in big cities and major tourist destinations.

We weren't worried, really. Hubby had planned routes and plugged them into the GPS. I had a map. What could go wrong?

I loved my red F650GS. Hubby's was silver.

First things first. We rented the bikes in a town named, Rho, which is a suburb of Milan. I created a little map so you could see where we started (Rent-a-Dream, which is affiliated with BMW dealer, Due Ruote), the two passes we hit, and then where we ended up. The map doesn't show our actual route. If you visit the map and check out the satellite view, you'll see it is a rather densely populated area.

As an important aside... we found Due Ruote, which means "two wheels" in English, thanks to Fuzzy. That's where she and her main squeeze rented bikes a couple of years back. 

As soon as we got the bikes loaded, Hubby set the GPS rolling. About ten minutes after we started, it quit. It was his own GPS, which the guy, Diego, at the rental place mounted on the bike for him. He re-started it and off we went. About ten minutes later, it stopped again. WTF?

Apparently, he'd crammed too much info onto the GPS for it to process all of the turns and stuff. It shut down about every 10 minutes ALL. DAY. LONG. Literally.

So getting out of the burbs and into the mountains was a challenge. Especially with a roundabout like every 50 feet. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. But let me tell you, there are a ton of roundabouts in Italy. Some have six or eight ways to get in or out of them, too. Which makes life quite interesting. Using a roundabout is easy in principle. You yield to cars in the roundabout and insert yourself whenever there is an opportunity. The trick is finding the opportunity. In rural areas, it's simple. In more-populated places, it's intense. A fun sort of intense. But folks who are easily intimidated will sit for a REALLY long time.

Hubby's biggest complaint with the roundabouts was that the GPS lady would announce all of them. Instead of saying something simple like "enter roundabout, second exit," she'd say something like, "enter roundabout, turn right, take third exit to Bassano del Grappa, Laso di Como, Maggiore, and Bellagio." Lot's of hard to understand, foreign-sounding names.

Anyway, once we got out of that mess, it was awesome.

We rode through quite a few cute little towns on our way to the mountains. Actually, there were towns scattered throughout the mountains. At all elevations. It was quite impressive. We just didn't stop much for pictures.

But then you want to see those mountains anyway, am I right?

That's sort of how I felt on our first day. Get me to the passes!

Once we started climbing, it was a LONG time before we stopped. Really. We just kept going up and up and up. And then up some more.

Having been to Austria and Italy a couple of years ago, I knew what to expect. Maneuvering these roads takes a bit of skill. Check out this page to read about how to drive in these mountains.

One definitely has to be focused and alert.

Some of the roads are quite narrow. And this is NOT a one-way track.

Did I mention the sharp turns. Like 180-degree sharp? That go uphill or downhill at the same time?

You have to ride far to the left as you enter right-hand turns so you have space to cut in if you need to make room for oncoming traffic.

And for left-hand turns, you enter from the far right. Turns like this one are easy because you can see what's coming at you. That is not always the case.

You can't always see what's standing around the corner either. Like a herd of cows.

Can you imagine how tickled I was to see cows on the mountain?

It made my day.

I have so many cool shots, I couldn't decide what to share. I narrowed it down drastically and there were still a lot. So, rather than post all of them here, I put them into a slide show.

Would you prefer that I post them here? Or maybe on Flickr? Or is the slide show just fine? Let me know, 'kay?

Back to the trip...

We rode across two major passes that day, San Bernardino Pass and Splugen Pass. We probably traversed quite a few minor ones, too. Splugen is the pass where the cows were hanging out.

Hubby and Me at San Bernardino Pass
Our friends Annelies and Yves were spending the week on their own while we motored through the mountains. But we were anxious to see them, so we (really me) decided to join them for the evening. We told them we'd arrive around 6:00. We seriously underestimated our time. It was about 10:30 PM when we arrived. Talk about tired!

Oh, and their apartment was perched on the side of a mountain, or at least a very big hill, which meant we had to ride some switchbacks to reach it. There were no streetlights. Switchbacks in the dark were interesting, too. 

Not only did they hold dinner for us, they'd even stopped in Austria specifically to buy our favorite beer. How cool is that?

I'll try to share more pics, soon. Don't forget to let me know your post vs. slideshow preferences!


bobskoot said...


Wow ! Holding dinner from 6pm to 10:30pm ! that's a long time under the heat lamp

Those cows must be Italian, they look a bit different than normal cows. Do they Moo in Italian too ?

Those are challenging narrow roads you had to navigate, plus those drop offs didn't help with concentration. I would be looking all around for a place to stop for photos.

Riding the Wet Coast
My Flickr // My YouTube

SonjaM said...

Ah, finally. Thanks for sharing those wonderful pics. I have been riding those mountain roads on a lil' 500cc carburated thumper. The higher we climbed the less power it had but removing the air filter and pulling the choke helped. There is no point in riding a liter bike up and down those roads, I appreciated how nimble mine was.
Not surprised with your miscalculation. Those twists and turns eat up your day. I have to admit I would find it rather scary to ride some of those roads at night without street light.
Sigh... I miss Italy.

Trobairitz said...

Fun...... I am trying to decide whether those roads would scare the bejeesus out of me. My conclusion is yes, but I'd ride them anyway, lol.

I like the pics in the body of the post but also the slideshow because i like the quirky/funky music.

Andrew Thomson said...

Great pics and it looks like great fun! Would love to tackle those passes!

Thomas Osburn said...

Wow! What a trip. The mountain roads look like a lot of fun. I sure hope to one day ride in Europe. Great photos.

Brenda said...

Thanks for sharing your fantastic trip Kathy, loved every one of the photos and the slideshow is a great idea.

I know I would have hated the round about experience, well done on getting through that!

The mountains just look scary and beautiful and awe inspiring ... perfection.

And you got cows too, lucky girl!!