Day by day:
0: your countdown to the tour is over. It's Saturday and you
need to be in Milan by 4pm. We shall finalise the
paperwork and pick up the bikes from our depot. The welcome dinner
starts at 8pm. Let the fun begin!!
1: We start by heading out of Milan on a quiet Sunday morning on the
A7. Our first stop will be Barolo in the Langhe area in Piedmont.
Barolo and the Langhe area are home to the famous Barolo and
Barbaresco wines. We will get a glimpse of where they are made.
The beauty of these rolling hills and vineyards reflect the
excellence of these wines. In the future when you happen to taste
these wines, you will certainly remember how beutiful the
landscape was. From Barolo we head for Cuneo and then turn west to
the first alpine passes. We first tackle the Col de la Lombarde
where we cross into France and secondly we take on the Col de la
Bonnette with its 2715 meters. We then roll into Barcelonnette for
2: We used to do a loop ride to the Gorge du Vedon and back to
Castellane but the day was always very long so for this edition we
shall make our overnight stop in a small village of Annot just
before the Gorge du Daluis. This day is the day to visit the
lavender fields of Valensole. With a shorter ride we have more
time to explore the Gorge du Verdon, the immense canyon of this
region. It is an amazing site
3: From Annot we start by riding along the chocholate coloured
canyon of the Gorge du Daluis. On my first visit it felt like
riding through the set of Jurassic park, thakfully without
bloodthirsty dinosaurs. Our ride clims to the top of the Col d'Allos
which leads us back into Barcelonnette. From here our pass hopping
continues over the Col du Vars and the amazing Col d'Izoard. The
mountains of this last pass reminds us of the Dolomites and infact
the geological making of the rocks is very similar. Two more
passes before reaching Valloire for the evening: Col du Lautaret
and Col du Galibier. The Galibier is amazingly steep, and when you
get to the small car park at the very top it offers amazing 360°
views of the surrounding mountains. Our hotel in Valloire includes
dinner in the stay so this dinner is on CIMT.
4: We continue our ride north over Col du Telegraph and then Col de
l'Izeran (2770m yes higher than Stelvio) into Val d'Isere. The
Col du Petite St Bernard puts us back in Italy at our final
destination for the night in Courmayeur at the foothill of Mont
Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe at 4810m.
5: We start the day with the amazing Skyway ride to the top of Mont
Blanc. The new rotating cablecars make for an incredible
experience if the day is clear. The view from the top of Europe is
breathtaking. From Courmayeur we ride to Aosta and then over the
freshly resurfaced Grand St Bernard pass. It's a very nice ride to
the top where it is possible to visit the pass museum and Great St
Bernard dog kennel. These dogs were used by the monks living at
the pass height to rescue pilgrims coming over the pass in winter
along the Via Francigena, the pilgrims route that connected
Canterbury (GB) to Rome. At the pass height we cross into
Switzerland and the ride along the Rhone valley all the way to the
first of the BIG SIX passes, the Furkapass. Here We reach
Andermatt for our first double night stop.
6: The BIG SIX await. We start with the Gotthardpass taking the
old Tremola section down to Airolo from here we take the
Neufenenpass to Gletsch. From there the Grimmselpass to
Innertkirchen and from here the Sustenpass to Wassen and then back
to Andermatt. This makes it 5 of the big six done! These passes
are truly amazing. The road surface is immaculate and the mountain
views really soul cleansing.
7: The last of the BIG SIX takes us out of Andermatt, the
Oberalppass. Whilst the Furka runs beside source of the Rhone
river, the Oberalppass runs beside the source of the Rhine river.
At pass heigh we find a copy of the lighthouse situated in
Rotterdam at the mouth of the Rhine. We roll along the Rhine
valley all the way to Thusis and then ride the Julierpass into the
exclusive ski resort of Sankt Moritz. After a stroll through this
town and a taste of excellent Swiss chocholate we head for our
next double night stop in Livigno over the Berninapass.
8: Our loop ride takes us to the Grison mountains behind Sankt
Moritz and to the well known town of Davos. We ride the Albulapass
and the Fluelapass. At the beginning of the Ofenpass anyone who
wants a shorter ride can take the tunnel back to Livigno but the
riders who want to keep going can climb to Stelvio on the third
access road to it from the Swiss side, the Umbrailpass and back to
Livigno over the Passo del Foscagno.
9: We transfer to the Dolomites but the main dish of the day is
STELVIO. We climb from the southwest and descend the 48
switchbacks of the northeast side. We spend some time at the top
taking in the mazing views and the hussle and bussle of the happy
motorcycle brigade that always fills the pass in summer. Whilst
there we should not miss our mid morning saussage snack at
Richard's kiosk. Our ride climbs down Stelvio and rolls along the
valley to Merano and from here north over the Jaufenpass to
Vipiteno to join the SS12 Via del Brennero (Brennerpass). After a
short ride south we enter Val Pusteria and then Val Badia reaching
the village of Colfosco for our two night Dolomites stop.
10: We do an incredible ride around the Sella and the Cristallo
group of Dolomites. Imperative is the cable car ride at the Pordoi
pass. The views from Sass Pordoi are really breathtaking. The view
in the header of this tour is from the top overlooking the
Marmolada glacier on the 2016 edition. Just amazing! From the
Pordoi pass we follow the Staulanza pass till we get on what is
proabably the most beautiful pass in the Dolomites, the Passo di
Giau. Apart from the ride, the views from the top offer sights
towards the Marmolada glacier, the Sella group and the Cristallo
group of Dolomites. I don't think any other pass in the Dolomites
offers this from the road. Our ride continues to Cortina
d'Ampezzo, the exclusive ski resort, and on to the ride around the
Cristallo group with a great stop by lake Misurina for coffee.
Time to head back to Colfosco, but doing so we still have to ride
the Falzarego pass and the Valparola pass. An interesting visit on
the last pass is to the WW1 fort which has been covreted into a
museum. Here you can witness what went on around these parts in
that atrocious time.
11: We must leave the Dolomites and closer to Milan. Our
destination is the top of Lake Garda, but we still have some
incredble roads to ride and places to see. We go over the Gardena
pass and then aim for the Siusi Alps but just as we get close to
Bolzano we take the Nigra pass to the Carezza lake, an incredible
alpine lake with crystal clear waters surrounded by pine trees and
dolomite spurs. From this lake we switch sides of the Brenner pass
and reach the Dolomite group of the Brenta and reach Riva del
Garda via the Molveno lake.
12: After a ride through the incredible Forre (gorges) del Garda we head for Lake Iseo over the Maniva
pass and end our day in Milan for the farewell dinner. Your
introduction to the alps will be over, but I am sure you will
return to dig a little deeper in this endless mountain range.