Our first day in earnest sees our group leaving our Radisson hotel in Munich, walking across the street to the massive München BMW dealership, grabbing our respective bikes – a fleet of F800R, F800GT, R1200R, R1200RS, R1200GS, and S1000XR motorcycles – and heading out on the autobahn, towards Austria.
Since our group is full of early risers, we got things moving ahead of schedule. For some, this meant extra time to meet our fellow riders; though for one member of the group, it meant a little extra time to shake off the cobwebs with a pre-ride beer – an occurrence that unfortunately became more of a ritual.
Joining me on our trek through the better parts of Europe is a dynamic group of individuals: there are a bunch of NY/NJ guys from N2 Track Days, an Apple engineer with an affinity for Triumphs, a designer with the gift of gab, and a former World Champion motorcycle racer.
The show is orchestrated by Cat MacLeod, a tall Scotsman with bleached white hair that ends in a ponytail, and his team of European tour guides and logistic personnel who are eager to help us navigate some of the best roads in the world, as well as the nightlife that surrounds them.
With nearly 500km of riding to report for Day 1, we better stop stalling and get to it, eh?
For many Americans, the German autobahn is pictured as a pristine set of roads, where no speed limit exists. While that’s true for some stretches, the word “autobahn” translates roughly to mean “highway” and in that regard, it’s very similar to its American equivalent – traffic, ~60 mph speeds, and construction zones.
August is the month of choice in Europe when it comes to taking a holiday, and with gorgeous weather like ours, it is perhaps not surprising then that the autobahn was packed bumper-to-bumper with travelers. On the way from Munich and into Austria, it wasn’t uncommon for us to see a vehicle hauling several motorcycles – the Alps are biker magnets this time of year.
The slog out of Germany was brutal, and Austria was little better. I’ll give the BMW R1200RS a proper review later, but I’ll tease the fact that the machine could be more comfortable. All the riders in our group complained of sore asses, shoulders, and necks. Of course, all these ailments were magnified ten-fold when stuck in hot traffic, and then seemingly disappear once the twisty roads begin.
After what seemed like an eternity of stop-and-go, our efforts finally dropped us at the foot of Grossglockner, our entry way into the Austrian Alps. This also meant our first taste of proper riding, as well as an introduction to the many switchbacks that we would later encounter.
Our path took us to the top of Edelweiß-Spitze, and as you can see, the view from the summit was easily worth the ascent, though it certainly was crowded. The word is out on this place.
We escaped through Austria and into Italy, chasing after the sunset, and then trying to escape the rising moon. When pressed the RS is a rewarding motorbike, failed only by the Metzler tires shod to it – dropping the pressure from the 40-something PSI helped greatly in that regard though.
The shame of today though is that by the time we got to fun sections of road, we were so far into the day, and so far into the ride, the corners and picturesque landscapes were only mildly enjoyable.
The preview bodes well though, as the surrounding area looks what Walt Disney would create, of pressed to make a motorcycle wonderland.
Arriving into our Dolomite basecamp of Moena well into the night time, we were a group of weary motorcycle travelers. Sleep now.
It’s pretty here.
A preview of the mountains to come.
A view of Grossglockner from Edelweiß-Spitze.
I hope you like switchbacks…
Sunshine and epic views means a lot of people.
In case you forgot where you are.
This is all that remains of the glacier that formed this valley. 100 years it was eye-level, now it’s roughly 100m deep.
Eagle-eyed readers might be able to guess who our mystery celebrity is on the trip.
Moonrise on the horizon. Two more hours remain on the ride.
Day One by the Numbers:
Kilometers travelled: 470
Near low-sides: 2
Hours on the road: 12.25
New tire pressure: 2.1 / 2.5 bar