Europe Ride, 2016

My good friend Walter and I have been riding together for over 25 years, during which time we’ve enjoyed some amazing roads on trips in the western United States. We’ve talked about riding abroad on an adventure, with Europe near the top of our list. In July 2016, we spent two weeks riding through some of the most amazing countryside, villages, town, and cities of seven European countries.

One of the unique aspects of this trip was that it was totally unplanned. We had no pre-set route, no agenda. Each day we would decide where we wanted to ride over breakfast and where we wanted to sleep over afternoon coffee. My wife had bought us tickets to a MotoGP race at Sachsenring, Germany — so we had just one day planned in advance.

It’s hard to do justice to the incredible places and people that we enjoyed every day. Our ride around Europe was epic enough that we decided it would be the beginning of an annual adventure on two wheels to increasingly distant places.

The Numbers

  • Dates: July 8–22, 2016
  • Distance: 4077 km / 2533 miles
  • Countries: 7 — Italy, Monaco, France, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria
  • Entry / Exit: Milan, Italy (due mostly to model availability)
  • Motorcycles: 2016 BMW R1200GS “triple black” and a 2016 BMW R1200GS Adventure

The Route

Our route was logged automatically and shared with friends and family as we rode. The half-day gap from Grenoble to Cordon was during heavy rain when the phone was stowed.

The Journey

There’s no better way to share the journal of this trip than through the photos that we took along the way. Here’s how it unfolded each day:

  • Day 1: Arrived Milan mid-day and picked up the bikes. Walter in from Paris, but Jeff in from Seattle. Short ride to hotel, dinner and rest (safer than riding tired/jetlagged).
  • Day 2: Milan to Lucca, Italy via Verona and a visit to Ferrari in Modena.
  • Day 3: Lucca to Rapallo, Italy along the Italian Riviera. Rode SS1, the ancient Roman road connecting France with Rome.
  • Day 4: Rapallo, Italy to Nice, France. Traveled along the Mediterranean through Genoa and Monte Carlo (Monaco).
Click for the entire photo album.
  • Day 5: Nice to Cordon, France. Heaviest mileage day that included sunny French countryside and downpours during Grenoble rush-hour traffic. An incredible dinner rewarded us for the long day.
  • Day 6: Cordon, France to Konstanz, Germany. Rode through Switzerland in the process, along giant and beautiful Lake Geneva.
  • Day 7: Konstanz to Rothenberg ob der Tauber, Germany. Visited Schloss Neuschwanstein, the castle that inspired Disney’s princess castle, along the way. Rothenberg is stuck in time hundreds of years ago in a magical way.
  • Day 8: Rothenberg to Olbernhau, Germany. We actually ended up in a little village on the south of Olbernhau that straddles the German/Czech border, on the ruins of a c.1537 copper smelting site. Joined the locals for a water/light show at the bridge that crosses the river-border that night. It involved beer.
  • Day 9: MotoGP race at Sachsenring, Germany. This is just west of Chemnitz, about an hour away from our inn at Olbernhau. Aside from commuting to/from the awesome MotoGP race, this was a much-needed no-riding day. The race was bucket-list material.
  • Day 10: Olbernhau, Germany to Schärding Vorstadt, Austria. Rode to beautiful towns in Czech Republic along the way, visited Pilsen (the home of Pilsner beers), and rode through the fields of hops.
  • Day 11: Schärding Vorstadt to Kaprun, Austria. Rode along the Attersee and into Salzburg for lunch. Salzburg mertits a week unto itself.
  • Day 12: Kaprun, Austria to San Valentino Alla Muta, Italy. Enjoyed compass-based navigation through Austria’s incredible alpine roads. Rode a chairlift to the best cappucino and views of the trip, and later dined in Innsbruck.
  • Day 13: San Valentino Alla Muta to Milan, Italy. Rode the world-famous Stelvio Pass (among other passes), had lunch in St. Moritz, cruised along Lake Como, and eventually returned the bikes after surviving Milano rush-hour traffic. Had a fantastic final dinner and vino near the Duomo in Milan.
  • Day 14: Early flights home through Frankfurt (Jeff) and JFK (Walter).

I’ll close this ride log with the same thought that closed my photo journal:

“Two friends, two weeks, two bikes, seven countries, and 4077 kilometers. Thanks to our families and friends for enabling us to do this, and thank you for following along. My hope is that this reminds my daughters to get out there and enjoy life, find adventure, and surround themselves with amazing friends along the way. Until we ride again, Walter.”