Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Motorcycle Tour of Slovenia

Still Updating Blog Not Complete

Friday 19th June - Home to Hull
We left home late Friday afternoon and headed over to Hull to catch the ferry over to Zeebrugge. For us this is a good option as we save some days holiday not having to travel down to Dover or Portsmouth. Hull is only 1.5 hours from our house so it is very easy to go and catch the overnight ferry on a Friday evening. We arrived at the port and then waited to board but to our surprise we had already missed the first Waiting @Hullboarding. After the freight had been loaded we were called to board the ferry, even more of a surprise was the strap that was thrown at us on the way up the loading ramp. There was no  help from the deck hands to assist in strapping down the bike and you were just expected to look after yourself. It was only a strap with a clamp on it so it wasn't possible to ratchet the bike down, we were not impressed. We unpacked and went upstairs and Helen found reception to see about an upgrade. She just missed out on a club cabin but we did manage to upgrade to a 4 berth cabin for £15. The cabin was fine and the beds surprisingly comfy, which enabled us to have a very good nights sleep.

Saturday 20th June - Zeebrugge to Aach
We awoke to a bright blue sky and sunshine which was an unexpected bonus. We packed up and headed down to the cafe for some coffee and pains au chocolat. We soon docked and so headed down to the car deck to find our bikes were thankfully still upright. We left the ferry at around 10am Grimbergen Castle and then headed through passport control and then onto the Belgian motorway network. We got off the motorway briefly to fill up with fuel and then headed to Grimbergen Castle just north of Brussels.

We left the castle and joined the motorway again and headed for Liege. We stopped briefly for lunch at some services before leaving the motorway near to Rosoux-Crenwick. We joined the N615 and then followed some minor roads south through Avennes and Huccorgne on our way to Huy. We then followed the twisty N641 to Ocquier and then the N638. We then followed the N814 and N833 through Durbuy to the N841 and onwards to Amonines. We then joined a really twisty minor road to La Roche-en-Ardenne, where we filled up with fuel(I had already pre-planned all our fuel stops around a range of 150 miles). While we where filling up we noticed a nice spot across the river to park up for lunch.

La Roche-en-Ardenne We left La Roche-en-Ardenne and headed for Ortho on the N843. We then turned east and followed a nice minor road to the N860 and onto Houffalize. We then headed south on the N838 and then turn east and headed into Luxembourg. We then joined the CR819 and here is where the fun really started. This was a really nice flowing and challenging road on perfectly smooth asphalt. We passed through Wiltz and onto the N25 and CR322, both of these roads were equally as good. We then passed through Vianden and then headed across the border into Germany. Shortly after this we got diverted several times as our intended route was closed. We eventually dropped down into Aach and arrived at our lovely guest house for the night Landhotel & Cafe Im Gartenfeld. We couldn't believe we had got such a nice place to stay including breakfast for only £56. We had a quick shower and then walked up the hill to a local Italian restaurant for pizza, we briefly stopped on the way to stroke two very friendly cats.

Sunday 21st June - Aach to Seebach
It rain heavily overnight but by the time we woke up it had started to ease off to a light shower. We went for a wonderful breakfast in the cafe next door and then packed up. It had stopped raining and was starting to brighten up as we left and we soon found dry roads. We headed on the L44 into Trier Porta Nigra and parked up in the free motorcycle spaces adjacent to the cathedral. We got off the bikes and walked over to Porta Nigra and then had a walk around the Cathedral. Helen then called into a bakery for some bread for our lunch. We then got back on the bikes and visited Franco’s Tower and then headed over to the bike parking at the Roman Imperial Throne Room and Baths. We had a quick look around the outside and then headed over to the Amphitheatre on the bikes. We had a quick look through the entrance and then filled up we fuel. It was about 12:45pm and hot and dry now so we decided we should get on with our riding. 

We left Trier on the L143 and eventually got out of the slow speed limit towns and headed on the L146 and K75 to Kell am See. We then followed the K76 to Grimburg and then the L147, L365 and the L147 again to Primstal. We then followedRoman Imperial Throne Room the L134 through Oberthal to Sankt Wendel. Here we turned south and headed for France on the L131, L121and L287. We joined the A8 autobahn at Kohlhof and headed southeast, to our dismay it was not unrestricted apart from the last 1.6 miles. We left the autobahn and joined the L700 and passed by Hornbach and then followed the D35a and D962 into France. We soon arrived in Bitche and then joined a previous tried and tested route that follows the D35/D3 through the forest around the army camps. This is a nice smooth flowing road that doesn't pass through many speed limited towns/villages. We stopped briefly on the outskirts of Climbach for the rest of our lunch, where we got talking to some German bikers.

We left as the skies started to darken and headed on the D3 Altenstadt. We then hit some really heavy rain as we continued on the D34 and D297 to Roppenheim. We then joined the D4 and headed over the Rhine towards Baden Baden. The rain had now eased and it was actually hot and sunny when we stopped in Oos for fuel. We passed under Baden Baden in the Climbach tunnel and then joined the infamous B500. It had now started to rain again lightly but it wasn't enough to spoil are run up the B500 and into the Black Forest. We soon arrived at our right hand turn onto the L87 and followed the twisty downhill road into Seebach. We soon arrived at our Hotel for the night Pension Williams. We have stayed here twice previously before and would highly recommend the location as a base for visiting the Black Forest. It is run by a lovely English couple and has a drying room especially for bikers. We unpacked the bikes as the heavens opened and a torrential downpour of rain backed up with thunder and lightning came down.

After a quick shower the owner gave us a lift back up the road to the fantastic Steakhaus Kaminstub, which is located on a tight hairpin bend. We have been here before and is well worth a visit for a quality steak. After our wonderful meal and cat snuggles the owner gave us a lift back down the hill to our hotel in Seebach. The rain had by now eased off and is pretty typical of the heavy showers that you can get in this area of Germany.

Monday 22nd June - Seebach to Garmisch-Partenkirchen
We awoke to dry roads but a very low cloud layer hanging over the top of the B500. We packed up and headed downstairs for a the well prepared breakfast and had a brief chat with the rest of the English bikers.

We left and headed back up to the B500. The roads were fairly dry with the odd damp patch about. As expected the B500 was covered in a low cloud layer which meant that in places visibility was down quite a bit. Fortunately it wasn’t a wet cloud layer so our visors didn’t get fogged up. We had a Helen's bike @Plansee decent run to Freudenstadt but were then foiled again as the L405 was closed. We ended up following the diversion to Rotweil where we joined the Autobahn. We stopped at some services on the Autobahn and got talking to a retired couple from England who were also headed to Slovenia. After a bite to eat we left the services and followed the Autobahn to the B31 and down into Friedrichshafen. As you approach Friedrichshafen you get a great view of Lake Constance. We stopped at a Shell garage in Friedrichshafen and were both badgered by attendants as we tried to fill up. We eventually got through to them that we weren’t German and so they pointed at a sticker on the pump that said no sitting on the bike while filling up. Helen had already managed to get fuel anyway but had to come and hold my bike up while we filled it up. So in protest we blocked both pumps while we took our time to pay and put our bike gear back on.

View from our Hotel window as the rain moves in. We left and carried on the B31 towards the A96. Here we joined the B308 which had some nice twisty bits in places. We eventually arrived on the banks of Alpsee in Bavaria. We then briefly joined the B19 before continuing east on the B308 again. After a while we crossed into Austria and followed the B199 passed Haldensee to the L260 and the L255. The L255 is a great road that we have ridden on before and is worthy of a visit. It winds it way along the banks of Plansee before snaking its way through the trees and back into Germany to the junction with the B23 at Ettal. We then followed the B23 and B2 into Garmisch-Partenkirchen and soon arrived at our hotel for the night. We have stayed at the Mecure Hotel before because you can upgrade and get a coffee machine and a fridge. There is also a bakers and supermarket nearby for supplies and breakfast in the morning. As we arrived it started to rain and then the heavens opened and it started to pour down.

Tuesday 23rd June - Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Lienz
Helen on a bridge over the IsarWe didn’t have a long run today but we were aware that the weather forecast for this morning wasn’t great. So we decided to take advantage of our late checkout and wait for the rain to pass and head off to the east. Thankfully the forecast was correct and by 11:30am the roads had dried and we had some blue sky pushing through the clouds. 

We left and headed on the B2 to Wallgau. Here we joined a toll road that followed the Isar for a while before crossing over a small bridge to the B307. We followed this road and soon the Isar opened out into Sylvensteinsee. We crossed over the dam on a much larger bridge and then followed the dam for Achenseea bit longer. We then crossed over the border into Austria and headed south on the B181 towards Jenbach. We stopped briefly along the banks of Achensee to take some photos. We then continued onto Jenbach and then joined the B169 as we headed towards Gerlos. We then joined the B165 and started the climb up the Gerlos Alpine Road. We then stopped at a nice viewpoint that overlooked Durlassboden Reservoir for lunch. While we where there we checked the webcams on the Grossglockner and it looked clear so we decided we would go over it to Lienz. As the Felbertauern Tunnel on the  B108 costs €10 to use it seemed like a no brainer to go over the pass instead. If it wasn’t clear when we got there we could try again tomorrow with a €11 return ticket instead.

Durlassboden ReservoirAfter lunch we continued on the road and then stopped at the toll barriers. We had decided in advance to get the motorcycle tour ticket for €32.50 this would enable us to do all the toll roads in the area. We progressed over the summit and started the descent, stopping briefly to take some photos of the view from the summit and of Krimml Waterfalls. Once we had descent into the valley below we continued on the B165 to Mittersill. As it still  looked clear we continued on the B168 and B311 to Pichl. Here we turned south and joined the start of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. We stopped briefly for fuel as it just started to rain and didn’t look very promising. We soon found ourselves on damp roads and then arrived at the toll barriers. We Krimml Waterfalls presented our tickets and then started the climb to the top  of pass. It is a wide road so would not normally be a difficult climb. However with the fine drizzle and very poor visibility it was quite a challenge to see were you where going at times. We decided that while we where here we had to go up to the bikers nest on Edelweiss-Spitze. This section of road is cobbled with tight hairpins in places, quite a challenge in these conditions.  Anyway we made it to the top and had a nice coffee in the cafe. By this time it had started to snow again but didn’t look like it would cause us any further problems.

Helen looking less than impressed @Edelweiss-Spitze We left and started the descent back down to Lienz in the same poor conditions. Then as we passed below 2000m the view cleared and the road was dry. We stopped to dry our visors and were now able to actually make some progress as we could now see the road. We soon passed through the toll barriers on the other side and headed for Lienz. We passed through Lienz and then climbed up to our hotel for the night Landgasthof Kreithof. The room was excellent and the views fantastic once the low cloud moved. The food was OK as the menu was a bit too Pork focused for our liking. But other than that we couldn’t fault it for the price we paid and would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday 24th June – Lienz to Kranjska Gora 
As expected we awoke to a dry and sunny day, the cloud was still hanging below the hills but after breakfast it had started to clear and we could see Glacier @Grossglocknerthe nearby mountains that we couldn’t see yesterday. We had a look on the webcams and Grossglockner High Alpine Road looked fairly clear in most places expect for the bikers nest on Edelweiss-Spitze

  We left the hotel and headed down into Lienz and then made the climb back up to the tolls booths on the Grossglockner. As expected it only cost us another €11 each to go up today. We headed straight to Franz-Josephs-Hohe Vistors’ Centre @2369m which is the main car parking area and information centre. We had a great run up there on a relatively quiet and clear road. We parked up and were glad that we had a clear view of the glacier. We usedGrossglockner one of the free biker safes to put our helmets and my tank bag in and then decided we would get the Funicular down to the glacier. The glacier used to be at the bottom of the Funicular but it has receded over the years quite a bit. We walked down quite a bit to get a better view of the glacier but our bike gear wasn’t the best for walking any further. So we headed back up to the carpark on the Funicular

We left and then headed back to the main road and then started the climb up to the summit at Hochtor Pass @2504m. Part way up the climb we came  across snow on either side of the View of Hochtor Passroad which remained all the way up to the top. We passed over the top and stopped in the carpark just below the biker nest at Edelweiss-Spitze. I managed to take some decent photos as the cloud moved in and out, but the top of the bikers nest was covered in cloud so we didn’t see much point in going up again today.

We then headed back down to Fuscher Lake @2262m to take some photos before heading back down to the toll booths. Fuscher LakeWe then headed back down  the B107 to Lienz stopping briefly for fuel on the way. We stopped in a Spar carpark just outside Lienz for lunch. Which had possibly the best view from any Spar carpark we have ever been to before. The weather down here was starting to get really warm now and the sky had cleared to reveal a deep blue vista.

After lunch we followed the B100 to Oberdrauburg and then turned south onto the B110 and headed up the Plocken Pass. We then went over the top  of the pass and headed into Italy. We followed the SS52bis to Tolmezzo where we joined the SS52. We headed east on the SS52 and then the SS13 and then stopped briefly in Lago del PredilResiutta for a Gelato(ice cream). We then joined the SP76 near to Raccolana, this was a really nice quiet road. After a while the road started to climb up and we found some tunnels that had hairpin bends in them. Fortunately as we where entering dark tunnels we were going slow as there was no indication that they where hairpin bends. After a while we came across the beautiful lake Lago del Predil and managed to find a nice place to stop for a break.

We left and then joined the SS54 to Tarvisio. We then continued on this road and soon arrived at the border with Slovenia. We crossed over the unmanned border and then followed the 202 to Podkoren. We then followed the 201 to Kranjska Gora and our apartment for the next 5 nights in House Neza.

Thursday 25th June – Mangart and Vrsic Passes 
The forecast for today and tomorrow looked good so we decided to do the other toll passes tomorrow and stay fairly local today. Luckily we had to sign the registration forms this morning, when the owner informedView from Mangart Pass to Austria us that today was Indepence Day and a national holiday. He also mentioned that a bicycle race was going up Vršič Pass this morning. With this information I reversed my intended route to take in the pass in the afternoon when the race would be over. 

We left the apartment and headed for fuel first and came across the  wonderful 100 octane super unleaded. My bike really liked this fuel and I was getting miles more miles per gallon from it. We then headed back through Podkoren and into Italy and through Tarvisio to the junction at lake Lago del Predil. We then continued on SS54 and started the climb of Predil Pass. We stopped at the stop to have a look at the small fort. It looked like Kluze Fortressit had been abandoned to fall into a more ruined state, but at some point it must have been cared for as the car park was asphalted.

We left and crossed back into Slovenia and followed the 203 down the otherside. We then turned left and joined the road to Mangart Pass. I wasn’t aware that it was actually a toll road but being the highest paved road in Slovenia I thought that we had to go up anyway. It was quite a narrow and technical road with many hairpins and some decent drops off the edge. It took us a while to climb up to the summit @2055m. Technically it isn’t a pass as the road just loops around at the top and you have to come back down the same way. We parked up at the top and went and had a look at the  views. The views were outstanding with some spectacular drops of the edges, some us actually went right to the edge and looked over.

Vršič Pass hairpins cobblesAfter a while we headed back down to the 203 and headed south towards  Bovec. Further down the valley we stopped at the old intact Kluze Fortress. It was a good visit with plenty of English on the information boards, it was also nice and cool inside.

We left and headed down to Bovec where we turned northeast and headed back towards Kranjska Gora on the 206. We soon started the climb of Vršič Pass, it is a very rapid climb up a lot of tight hairpins. Part way up the climb a came across 3 other motorcycles stuck behind a very slow moving campervan. There where no straights in between the hairpins which where also surrounded by trees, so it was impossible to overtake. After about 5 minutes of my bike sucking in everyone else's heat the campervan pulled over and let us all pastRussian Chapel on Vršič Pass. At this point the red warning triangle came up on my display, I  quickly noticed the flashing temperature bars and surmised that the bike had overheated, so as quickly as possible I found somewhere to pull over to let the bike cool down. I heard the fan stop as I turned the ignition off so knew that the cooling system was working and just presumed it was one of those things (this was not the last time this would happen on out tour). After the bike had cooled down we passed over the summit @1611m and then headed down the otherside. This side was just as twisty but with the added pleasure of very bumpy cobbled hairpins. We stopped halfway down the otherside by the old Russian Chapel. It was built by Russian POWs to commemorate their dead comrades during the roads construction. We then headed back to our apartment.

Friday 26th June – Villach and Nockalm Roads 
It was lovely and sunny today has had been forecast, so we decided to go with Plan A and do the other toll roads. We left and headed to Podkoren and then turned right and headed north to Austria via Wurzen Pass. The road on the Slovenian side is fine however the Austrian Mangart from Villach Road Summitside it was awful and bumpy. We joined the B83 and then the B86 and headed around the outskirts of Villach. We then joined the Villach Alpine Road and soon arrived at the toll booths. Due to us having a tour ticket we were entitled to a discount on the toll charges. We then had a great quiet run to the top stopping briefly at one of the lookout points on the way. We could see Mangart from the lookout point where we went yesterday. We had a butty at the top and Helen was very pleased to see loads of very nice looking cows with loud cow bells around there necks.

The road is a dead-end so we had to head back to down Villach. We joined the B86 again and then followed the B84 around Villach. We then headed on the B98 towards Radenthein. The road was more functional than pleasurable Cows at Villach Road Summit.but the scenery was nice as we passed by two lakes, Afritzersee and Brennsee. We arrived in Radenthein and then made a turn to the right and joined the B88 and headed to Patergassen and then joined the B95 there. We headed north on the B95 and soon made a left turn onto the L19 and the Nockalm Road. This is another toll road and is included in the tour ticket that we bought so we showed our tickets and passed trough the toll booths. We  then had a stunning run along the road taking in the wonderful views along the way. The road was fairly quiet with mainly other motorcyclists on it. We passed over  the first high point at Glocken Hut @2024m and then headed down the other side. We then to our surprise starting climbing again and then passed over the other high point Eisentalhohe @2042m. We didn’t stop at the top because it was very busy so continued on doNockalm Roadwn the other side. We had a good run down around loads of nice sweeping hairpin bends and then came across a nice parking area with picnic benches and toilets. So we stopped there to have some more of our lunch. 

After a good rest we continued along the rest of the Nockalm Road to Innerkrems. We then joined the narrow L19 that we followed all the way to the L225 near Gruben. Then we followed the L225 to Madling where we joined the B95 a wider road with a line down the middle. We followed this road to Predlitz and the junction with the B97. The B95 actually turns south hear and what comes next is absolutely amazing. On a map the road just looks a little wavy but it is actually a series of about 30 to 50 left and right corners that go into each other. The corners are almost all identical and you just stay in the same gear and at a constant throttle.  Even though it Turrachseeis a constant repetitive left and then right you actually get into a rhythm and I actually really enjoyed this road. After a fair while we arrived at Turrachsee where we stopped at Hotel Kornock for a coffee. 

We left and continued on the B95 and soon passed by the start of the Nockalm Road again. We then continued on the B95 to Feldkirchen in Karnten. Here we joined the B94 and headed back towards Villach. The road follows along the banks of Ossiacher See but it was very slow going and a bit boring. We then arrived at the junction with the B98 and B94 and then retraced our outward route back to our apartment.

Saturday 27th June – Loibl Tunnel & Seeberg Saddle 
Today was forecast to rain quite heavily later in the afternoon, so we decided to do a short loop so we would be back in time before the rain arrived. We had bought Vignettes yesterday for the week that would enable us to use the motorways, they cost €7.50 each. I affixed them to our bike screen and then we headed out.

We left and headed east on the 201 and then joined the A2 motorway at Hrusica. We weren’t on the motorway for very long at got off near to Podbrezje and the headed north on the 101. We passed through Trzic and then made the climb up to the border with AMe in the Hot tubustria. There is no pass at the summit of the road now so instead we had to pass through Loibl Tunnel to get into Austria. We then descended down to Ferlach on the B91 and then  the L104. We then joined the back roads of the L103, L108 and L131 which twisted their way through the trees to Miklauzhof. Here we turned south and joined the B82 heading back to Slovenia. We passed by an Austrian Police speed trap but they didn’t check our speeds, but we weren’t speeding anyway. I guess they were waiting for people coming into the urban zone the other way. We then started the ascent of the Seeberg Saddle. We passed a few bikers on the way up so warned them of the speed trap as we went past. It was a really nice tight and twisty climb up, with some sections cut into the rocks. The last bit was a series of about 12 hairpins that got us up the View from House Neza Carpark summit and the border @1218m. The two border posts where abandoned as expected, although the Slovenia one looked fairly recently built. They had kindly installed a picnic bench under there roof, so we though it was a perfect spot for a lunch stop.

After lunch we headed down the Slovenian side on the 210, probably not as nice as the Austrian side. We passed through Jerersko and then joined a minor road at Hrib. We then had to do a bit of motorcross to get us past some roadworks around a new housing estate. We then joined the A2 again and headed back to our apartment. About 5 miles away it started to rain but we got back just in time before it really started to rain. As a word of warning don’t use the Slovenia motorways if you don’t have a Vignette, as they have places where you have to slow down to pass cameras that are checking for them.

Sunday 28th June – Postojna Cave & Predjama Castle 
The weather for the rest of the tour was forecast to be sunny everyday, although later in the week we could possibly see temperatures up in the high 30’s. The cave at Postojna is quite a distance from our apartment so we decided to get there on the motorways. We lPostojna Cave Entranceeft reasonably early and headed on the 201 to the A2 motorway and then followed that to Ljubljana. Here we joined the A1 and headed down to the Postojna junction. We then headed on the 6 to the cave and parked up in the motorcycle parking area, which was free and close to the entrance. 

We then went and got tickets but had to wait for nearly an hour for the next English tour. The cave tour lasts about 1.5 hours and you get to see around 5km of the caves. To get right into the cave system you take a train that seems to travel for about 2km. The temperature in the cave is a refreshingly constant 8-10 degrees C, some people had coats on but for us it wasn’t that cold really. The guide spoke perfect English and the tour was probably the best of the cave tours we have been on. The end of the tour finishes in the concert hall which can accommodate 10,000 people for some of the concerts that are played there. You then get the train back to the entrance again and then the heat of sun hits you again. We had a spot of lunch and then headed up to Predjama Castle on the 913. We only stopped there briefly to take some photos as we had a fair way to get back.

Predjama Castle We left and headed back to the A1, I hadn’t intended to get back on the motorway but for some reason the satnav decided to completely miss out some of my waypoints. So we ended up going all the way to Gorizia on the H4. We stopped here for fuel and then headed north on the 123 and 103. We then turned left onto the 402 as it looked like a nice little twisty detour off the 103 and it was. We then joined the 103 again and followed that all the way to Tolmin. This was a nice flowing road that we were able to make progress on, but at the same time was also a nice ride. We then followed the 102 to Kobarid and then joined the excellent 203 to Bovec. Shortly after Zaga we found a lovely spot to stop for coffee and cake, Penzion Boka.

While having our coffee and cake we discussed our route back and decided to not go over Vršič Pass again as it was so bumpy. So instead we followed the 203 past Kluze Fortress and over Predil Pass to Tarvisio. We then headed back to the apartment on the SS54 and the 202/201.

Monday 29th June – Vintgar Gorge & Lake Bled 
Again it was another dry day but we had a bit of an overcast looking sky. We headed back to the A2 motorway which we Walkway @Vintgar Gorgeused for 1 junction and got off near to Lipce. We then joined the 654 which we followed to Spodnje Gorje.  Here we turned off to go and visit Vintgar Gorge. We parked up and headed down to the ticket office. It cost €4 each but was well worth it. The gorge that follows the Radovna River is about 1.4km long and they have built a wooden walkway along most of it. Without this walkway you would not be able to walk along the bottom of the gorge at all. It was quite busy so it was difficult to get any photos without any other people in it. After the walk to the end and back we were hot and a bit weary so we had a much needed ice cream to cool down.

Lake BohinjiWe left the gorge and then headed back to the Spodnje Gorje where we  picked up the 905.  We then followed that road all the way to Jereka. This was a really nice quiet twisty road through a forest. Towards the end of the road you had to be careful as they where felling trees in this area. So the road had tree debris on it and there where large log lorries on the road as well. At Jereka we joined the 633 and followed that to Lake Bohinj. We took some photos at the head of the lake and then rode alongside the lake to the other end and then stopped by the lake for a spot of lunch.

Bled Castle We left and headed on the 209 towards Bled. We soon arrived alongside Lake Bled and parked up opposite the Bled Castle  to take some photos. Unfortunately there was a crane towering over the castle and the sky was still a bit gloomy looking. It was fairly busy so we didn’t stop for long and continued on the 209 back to the A2 motorway and then back to our Apartment.

Tuesday 30th June – Kranjska Gora to Bolzano 
We awoke and then packed all of our stuff up and then headed out. The forecast for the rest of the week was no rain and lots of sun. Normally this would be perfect but it didn’t exactly turn out like that.

We left in glorious sunshine and before crossing the border into Italy we filled up with cheap Slovenia fuel. The border was actually manned by the Italian Police but they stopped the car in front of us and waved us through. We then joined the Pit Stopmotorway and followed that to the junction for Tolmezzo and the SS52. We followed the SS52 to Villa Santina and then  joined the SR335. This was a quiet and well paved road, we followed this north to Entrampo. Here we joined the SR465 and crossed over the river on a nice British type multi-arched bridge. As we progressed down this road the distinctive peaks of the Dolomites came into view, with not a cloud in the sky the views where fantastic. We passed through a few small villages as we started to climb up gradually. After passing through Pesariis the road narrowed and we where now on picturesque forest mountain roads. The road had recently been resurfaced so it was a pleasure to ride on. The road snaked its way along and we eventually came to a long straight section with a perfect stopping places for bike along it. So we stopped here briefly to have some food and take on some much needed water.

We then continued on the SR465 and soon the trees opened up and we got a great view of the mountains at Sella di Razzo @1760m. After taking some photos we then passed over Sella Ciampigotto @1790m and started to head  down. We descended very rapidly on some nice hairpin bends and thSella Di Razzoen continued to descend as the road flowed nicely between the trees. We eventually arrived in Laggio di Cadore and the joined the SS52 again. We then continued on the SR48 and headed over to Cortina d’Ampezzo. We then headed for the petrol station to the south but it appeared to have closed. We then headed back into Cortina d’Ampezzo and found another station but that one was having issues with the pumps. I did a quick search on the satnav and found another station nearby. Fortunately this one was working but it wouldn’t accept our credit cards but it did take money so we put €10 in each bike.

We left and then headed west on the SR48 and then soon joined the Great Dolomite Road. We didn’t follow the exact route of the road all the way to Bolzano, but we certainly did a fair chunk of it. Our first diversion took us off Giau Pass and onto the SP638 and we started the ascent of Giau Pass @2236m. This is the steepest of the passes in the Dolomites and slightly less busy than some of the others. The majority of the traffic on the roads were other bikers enjoying the scenery as well. After a great run up the pass we arrived at the top and stopped for a spot of lunch and to take some photos.

After lunch we headed back down the other side which was equally as twisty and fun. We then made our way back to the SR48 Great Dolomite Road via the SP251 and SR203. We followed the road to Arabba and then started the climb of Pordoi Pass. This pass is probably the busiest of the passes in the area and even has local buses going up it. The sun was really beating down Giau Pass now and the temperature was in the low 30s. As we started up the twisty part of the pass I briefly got slowed by a tractor. As I passed by the dreaded red warning triangle came up on the dash. Yes the bike was overheating again, but I was on tight hairpin bends with nowhere to stop. I had no other option other to to push on. After a while the road straightened out a bit and I managed to get enough cooling through the radiator to drop one bar on the temperature gauge, although it was still flashing red. We arrived at the top at 2239m and we parked up so that might bike could cool down. We headed over to one of the many cafes at the top for a well earned coffee. Even though we where at 2239m it was still pretty warm.

After a while we left and descended back down the pass to Canazei. The bike seemed much happier going downhill and the temperature stayed nice and cool all the way down. We then continued on the SS48 to Vigo di Fassa where we joined the SS241 to Carezza Al Lago. Here we left the Great Dolomite Road and headed on the much quieter Via Nigra towards Tires. This is a nice and twisty road but wasn’t that steep so my bike didn’t have any Coffee Pordoi Pass heating issues. We then passed over the top and headed down the other side towards Bolzano. We eventually arrived in Bolzano and by now it was late afternoon and the temperature was in the high 30s. We then turned onto the minor road that would climb up to our hotel for the night. The road was very tight and also had some very tight hairpins. This meant that we had to go pretty slowly which resulted in my bike overheating again. We had to actually stop 3 times to let it cool down before we where able to get to our hotel for the night, Bad St Isidor. We then initially couldn’t find anywhere to park until the owner came out and pointed to the side of the hotel. We found a flat pathway by the side of the hotel that was perfect for the bikes. We unpacked and then went to our room which was actually fairly cool considering the heat. As we unpacked we each had a large beer to cool down.

After a much needed cooling shower we headed down for the included half board meal. This was served at a set time and was a set menu. Helen managed to get across that she couldn’t eat small cow(veal) but was happy with big cow(beef). The food and the staff where excellent and we would highly recommend staying at this hotel.

Wednesday 1st July – Bolzano to Chur