June 20, 2024

Chapter 9 – a quick getaway

June 2024

A liveblog about trying to get away for a few days on two motorbikes

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There are plans at the moment to get away with an old friend for a few days and to go somewhere on motorbikes. We haven’t ridden together for yonks i.e. rather more than ten years, and we’re both safely over fifty and used to travelling alone so it should be interesting 😊 Anyway, starting on Monday 10th June and possibly up until Friday all things permitting…

There isn’t actually a plan yet more than exact than “o’er yonder” although Italian food may play a role in the decision process.

More details to follow…

7th June 2024:

The current plan is: Start in Kempten in Bavaria on either Monday evening 10th June or, more likely, Tuesday morning 11th June.

The weather outlook is looking pretty dismal to appalling here and on the Italian side of the Alps. France will be a bit better but it is a very long way when you only have a few days. I’ve never really been eastwards on motorcycles before and had briefly toyed with the idea of Slovenia but that is also a serious distance…

The olde chum will be arriving on Sunday so I suspect that we will spread out the map on the kitchen table and have a lengthy prod at it before deciding which way to go, although I suspect that Italian food could still get the casting vote….

He isn’t bringing any rainproofs at the moment so shall have to sort that out on Monday…

8th June 2024:

For various reasons I was up early this morning (two people shouting outside, crows, morning chorus, a call of nature, etc) and was around and about from sunrise. Super important things, such as planning motorcycle trips in dodgy weather conditions, will have to take a back seat today because we are travelling by train to Heddesheim near Heidelberg to go to a party at a venue with a sizeable vineyard (now termed “Venyard” (c) my wife). Thus, eating, drinking and talking is going to be in full focus today, then back to Kempten tomorrow morning by train to be back in time for our dance course. THEN, the serious business of planning, prodding maps, consulting weather apps and momentous decision making shall begin 🙂 .

We did have an exchange this morning. The general gist was that it will fairly vile and dismal from Lake Constance to Salzberg and also pretty bad south of the main chain of the Alps around Bolzano and Trento (Alto Adige). From the Vosges and further west and south into France is looking slightly better with patchy rain and drizzle. Eastwards towards Venice things are also damp even as far as Piran in Slovenia. So there we are! The general plan is to not think too much more and then see how forecasts are looking on Sunday evening. Also, to drop into the local motorcycle kit shop on Monday and make sure we both have a good set of rainproofs (I do, friend doesn’t yet).

Here’s a picture of the Guzzi from earlier this year and a video from earlier days to get in the mood 😉 :

Photograph of a Moto Guzzi Breva 1100 in a bright red colour.

10th June 2024:

The weather forecast had lightened up significantly, the olde chum (OC) got hold of his rental bike (Kawasaki z900) and we decided to get started at 11:00 hours to make use of a break in the weather.

The idea was to get to the Lavarone area in one day so we set off across the Fernpass which is the less exciting version of the route sketched out here:

and then followed the road down past Merano – Bolzano and down to Trento (I will add the gps tracks when I’m home). We were basically pretty lucky and had a patch of blue sky which followed us down up to about Bolzano after which there were several squalls. Generally though we did pretty well and didn’t get caught out without rainproofs. It is a challenge in early summer on the Italian side of the Alps because 10 minutes in rainproofs in sunshine gets you about as wet from sweat as 10 minutes in the rain without rainproofs but overall we got it about right.

coming down off the Passo di Rescia towards Glorenza/Glurns

At Trento we turned off and took small roads up into the hills into the Lavarone region. This is the area broadly to the right (east) of the lake Garda area but, in contrast, if you’re not currently in main season in July or August, it is pretty quiet and feels quite unspoilt, relaxed and Italian. The Lavarone area is a high altitude plateau with several villages which is good for winter and summer outdoor sports i.e. biking, walking, skiing. It seems not too well known and is a marvellous base for local trips or longer motorcycle trips up to the Dolomites.

11th June 2024:

It had rained and thundered in the night so roads were wet although not really slippery. We had decided to visit the fort Gschwent or Belvedere (in Italian) which was a fortification from the time of world war one when this area was right on the frontline between Austro-Hungary and unified Italy.

Both sides had built a line of forts along the border region. From 1915 to 1918 there was fighting in this area with hostilities continuing up into the highest parts of the Alps/Dolomites. The fort is well preserved and contains a well-kept museum along with numerous audio-visual exhibits, however, the fort itself, built partially into the rock is impressive and gives much food for thought and, also, a good deal of claustrophobia.

Being stuck in one of these forts being bombarded for months at a time must have been an absolute nightmare. The fort complex itself is accessed from a parking area just off the road and is then a short walk along the hillside.

In the afternoon we decided that a walk through the nearby woods was in order to counteract the sitting and riding so we did a local trip up to a vantage point which was shrouded in mist and cloud but got the circulation going 🙂 .

On the way back the rain picked up so we did a round of shopping and got back to our base to get comfortable, light the fire, test various local beers and do some cooking.

12th June 2024:

I had been suffering from a connectivity problem because no wifi up here where we’re staying, mobile connection a bit weak up here anyway and then my mobile data disappeared which may have been due to my offering a hotspot which then sucked my monthly allowance dry in a few hours… might possibly be due to all OC’s apple devices diving onto my hotspot 😉 but maybe not…

Trento is the regional centre for the Trentino region and has a university, an old town, and much Italian charm. We took a steep and bendy road down from Lavarone via Folgaria down to the valley with an impressive castle on a rock as we neared the valley. Then up the strada to Trento. Parking a motorcycle in Italy in the town centre is no problem at all thus is a great way to get around. Trento definitely has charm and style but is also a happening place with students and bars and all sorts of museums, art galleries and Piazza’s to see and experience.

I did finally find a cafe with a wifi connection so seized the opportunity to upload the pictures 🙂 .

We walked about Trento for a good while, had lunch and then went up the hill to the Alpini museum which was a) free b) displays a history of the Alpini mountain regiments which are drawn and based here. Exhibits spanned the end of 19th and the whole of the 20th centuries with expeditions to Ethiopia, Greece, Turkey, Jugoslavia, various fronts from Galicia to Italy during the first world war and then later into Russia during the second. The museum is friendly and well-looked after and is interesting from a historical perspective. The road up is worth a visit in itself with impressive switch-back corners and a tunnel with an engraving on the way up and down.

13th June 2024:

Excellent day! Today was a big tour. Following route:

  • Stengheli to Borgo Valsugana
  • Up the SP31 (Passo di Manghen) to Molina di Fiemme
  • across east to Paneveggio along the SS50
  • up the Passo di Rolle
  • and down again to San Martino di Castrozza
  • back towards Trento down a stunning canyon valley
  • and then up to our plateau again via the SP133 Strada di Menador (nuts but a must see!)

Here is my planning weather forecast and first route from yesterday evening:

We got started reasonably early and had breakfast and packed our essentials. It had rained in the night so was drying up slowly from 9 onwards, the air was still pretty cold (5 to 8 degrees). We got moving fine and headed back down to the lake via our usual route, at the lake we turned towards Borgo valsugana and rolled easily down the strada. At Borgo we picked up the pass road and started climbing the pass road (passo di manghen). The pass heads up through the woods and rapidly gets pretty narrow with close corners and hairpins and not too much visibility. There was also a rally going on up and over the pass and various motorcycle groups so a reasonable amount going on.

We then rolled down and up to Molina. From there we followed the SS50 east which is wide and sweeping without too much traffic and then picked up the Passo di Rolle road. This is a glorious ride up through the woods with sweeping corners and generally much more space than the pass beforehand. Somewhere near the top it started raining on and off so we descended down to San Martino and through and found a good place to eat something and drink a coffee.

After the break we turned west and came down following the river in a beautiful canyon-like valley back towards Trento using the smaller strada and the faster parts in places. Another tremendous road! Finally, we took the SP133 up from near the lake up to our plateau. This is an old steep ascent built by pioneers probably in ww1 and is narrow with single file tunnels, blind corners with precipices and endless corners winding up the rock-face. Absolutely nuts and, of course, even more exciting with tractors, cyclists, cars and white vans rushing to get home… but, as always in Italy, it all sorts out in the end and it was a great end to the day.

14th June 2024:

trip to Schio

Riva di Garda

phone fell off bike and was run over so display broken although phone still working. Thus no tethering possible therefore no further updates until tomorrow when I’m home again 🙁

insert gps routes and tracks

to be continued!

The author

2wheels, adventure, ecology, dad and husband, green, news, tech-fan, trauma- and orthopod, engineer and human. https://mstdn.social/@MarkDW

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