Wednesday, June 30, 2004

My Beloved Goes to the Dark Side

Would you believe blue skies, sunshine and it is hot here!  The weather is picture postcard.  This was our longest riding day, 400 Kilometers - we went from Austria to Italy, to Switzerland and back to Austria again.  We reached  Italy, and our first stop was the vanished town of Graun , which was flooded in 1949 when the lake was dammed.  Only the church steeple rises above the water.  My Beloved was immortality on film (or on pixels) standing beside the her new love - a BMW motorcycle. 

My Beloved On The Dark Side! Posted by Hello     
Lunch was at Glurns, a medieval town which is the smallest in Italy.  It is still walled and parts of the moat remain.   Had Spaghetti Carbonara, best I've ever tasted. 
After lunch it was time to tackle the the Passo Dello Stelvio , third highest pass in the alps and the highest pass in Italy.  It is so special it has its own webcam.  48 hair pin switchbacks and snow on the top.  And yes, again we encountered those ever so fit bicycle riders who rode to the top on leg power.  How do they do it???

48 Switchbacks! Posted by Hello

Again, I rode with the tour guide and learned the passenger more or less rides hands free.  You brace yourself against the gas tank with one hand, hold on to the side handle with your other and use your stomach muscles for balance.  It's more of a work out than 100 sit ups. No wonder they call Alpine Motorcycle riding a sport!  Holding on to the driver is not a good idea,  since the passengers weight pushes him into the gas tank on the downhill slopes.  I got the courage award for not only attempting this feat, but making it both up and down the mountain! 
We crossed into Switzerland via  the second longest tunnel in the world. Tomorrow My Beloved is buying a full face helmet and actually said 'I only want to drive a BMW for the rest of the tour".  Everyone else cheered and one of the members, who owns a BMW dealership in Altanta has offered her a good deal on her first BMW.
The final stop was Livigno, a duty free and very much touristed area between Switzerland and Italy.  The surrounding area was lovely, the town which was check by jowl with hotels and arun with traffic was not so.  Came back via the Ofenpass.  More switchbacks, meadows, mountain waterfalls, rocky peaks and alpine meadows.

I have been on a bike for 11 hours, had a half a liter of wheat beer on tap, half a liter of white wine and my head is spinning.

To be continued.......

Our tour guide is Austrian, a delightful gentleman with much riding and touring experience. This is his full time job and he gets to travel the world - nice work if you can get it.  All the riders are American - Mr. & Mrs. BMW, who have been invaluable when it comes to riding tail and giving lessons.  Mr. BMW is My Beloved's twin, separated at birth.   A friendly, never meet a stranger, always willing to help guy who does Iron Butt rides in his spare time.  His wife is bit quieter- I think she is the earth sign to his fire sign, and is also an expert rider, she was one of 3 women riding her own bike.

Bob & Lynda - Mr. & Mrs. BMW Posted by Hello

We encountered kindred spirits in a couple from Duluth, Minn.  Having done the the California Pacific Coast Highway  ride, they were the only Edelweiss tour veterans among us. Seasoned travelers, they gave us lots of tips of things to see in Paris.  We hope to meet up with them for another tour when time and budgets allow.  They weren't familiar with my beloved Minnesota tomes, the Betsy-Tacy books but I forgave them that small omission!

My Beloved and Her Kindred Spirits. Posted by Hello

We've also a brother & sister and their respective spouses, a couple from Wisconsin, who are renowned for their tattoos and one solo rider from Florida.  A very compatible and friendly group.

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