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Harleys In The Alps

by Sandy (Coyote)

In September 2000 my husband and myself took a motorcycle riding tour of France, Switzerland and Italy. On our arrival in Nice, France we had a few hours to get settled into our rooms and meet some of the other riders. Then after a great French lunch, we headed out to pick up our bikes. I thought I was to be riding behind my husband on a Road King. When we arrived at the bike pick-up to my surprise there was a 2000 H-D Deuce waiting for me. My husband knew how bad I really wanted to do this ride on my own bike, and had surprised me with the Deuce. We rode the bikes on the streets just outside of town and then back into town to the hotel as a test of our riding skills. Everyone passed and were ready to get the trip started.

Our second day of riding, we followed our guide through the streets of Nice along the French Riviera. Yes the gals do go topless there. The men had a hard time keeping their eyes on the road on that part of the ride. The roads took us into Monte Carlo, there we visited the Queens Palace of Monaco and the church were the Queen is buried. There were casino's everywhere and large yachts in the harbor. For lunch we sat in a street side cafe much like the ones you see in the movies. We then rode in the hills around the cities back into Nice for a great dinner and a good nights sleep before starting for the Alps the next day.

We started each day with a 7:30 breakfast, 8:30 briefing of the days ride and would leave by 9:30 not to arrive at the next nights hotel until 6:30 - 7:00. Our meals were all great then we would start the next day the same. This third day of riding we left Nice behind us and headed for the mountains. Some of the cities we visit in route are Grasse (most of the French perfumes are made here), Castellane, Comps S Artuby, Pont DE Soleils and ending our day in Digne Les Bains for a nights stay. The highlight of the day was a 60 mile ride around the Grand Canyon du Verdon. It's much smaller than our Grand Canyon, but has more than 500 turns and a great deal more greenery. Another highlight was our lunch. Part of this tour included a caravan of vehicles that followed us. One was a bus for those who tired of bike riding and wished to be driven instead. No one in our group took them up on this, we all rode the entire trip. The other two vehicles were a van with two extra bikes in case of problems with someone's ride, or if someone chose to be driven. Then there was the chuck wagon with it's own five star chef. He cooked us a lunch that we hadn't expected. We had grilled Chicken, Salmon, two pasta's, two different types of salad, breads, cheese's, gourmet cookies and candies. A great meal to be having roadside, with the best scenery you could imagine!

The fourth day was long but filled with lost of beautiful country side and roads that allowed us to travel more swiftly. We traveled through the cities of Sisteron, Gap, Grenoble, Geneve and Annecy. These routes are filled with history, they are the roads that Napoleon had traveled. The city of Sisteron is a medieval city and some of the streets in Gap date back to around 14BC. We all remember what happened in Grenoble. In Annecy we spent two nights with a day of rest. But did we rest?

O.K. I know you all are hungry for more, so here goes!

The fourth day was suppose to be our rest day, although most of us didn't choose to rest. Annecy was a beautiful city, our hotel set right on a glass like lake with parks all around it. The Country side in that area was just as beautiful. I didn't tell you earlier, but about half the riders on this trip were riding BMW RT's and LT's. Us Harley riders had been giving them a bit of a hard time, since most of these same riders had Harley's back home. So on our rest day they wanted to switch bikes with us and give the Harley's a try. We agreed, so today we took out the BMW's. My husband took the LT and I took one of the RT's. Felt strange at first, riding position was unlike what I was use to. All in all they are great riding bikes and we would have to agree that these bikes were probably more suited for the riding we were doing here in the Alps. Being Harley riders heart and soul, we are glad we did this trip at least this one time on a Harley. On our days ride we saw lots of beautiful country side and small farms just on the outskirts of the city. Much like the North GA mountains, just chalet type housing. The ride around the lake near the hotel was just as beautiful but a bit more traffic.

On our fifth day we left Annecy and headed out for Zermont, Switzerland. The cities we visit today are Chamonix, travel through the Rhone Valley into Tasch and then into Zermont. In the ski resort of Chamonix we can see the enormous dome of Mont Blanc, of which the expensive ink pen gets it's name. As we pass through the Rhone Valley the high mountains around the valley are dotted with chalets and old style farm houses. Almost every chalet has window boxes filled with bright colored flowers. A very pretty site. Then we arrive in Tasch were we leave our bikes parked in a secure garage for the night. We take an electric vehicle into Zermont, no gasoline vehicles are allowed in this ski resort. From our hotel room here we can see the spectacular Matterhorn. The sights today are too many to describe. One sight that comes to mine was while traveling from Annecy into Chamonix on the autobahn (much the same as our freeways here in the states, in looks and speed) as we were making this big sweeping curve and rounded it, there was the most incredible site right in front of us. Beautiful tall green mountains capped off with pure white snow! We would have needed a helmet cam to capture this wonderful view. As it is, it will have to remain in our memories.

Our sixth and last day of riding, we leave Zermont and head out for Lugano. Today our cities include Simplon and the Simplon Pass into Milano, Italy. The mountain riding is still fabulous and we have lunch in a great little Italian restaurant by the shore of Lake Lago Maggiore. Our ride then takes us out by the shores of the lake back into Switzerland and on to Lugano. Here we are to spend one last light before flying on to Zurich for our trip home. This was truly one trip we weren't ready to end, but we all must come home sometime!

Should any of you wish to take a trip like this contact Edelweiss Bike Travel. Or check out their web site at www.edelweissbike.com. They do tours here in the US and World wide.

Be careful out there and ride safe.

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From Sandy/Coyote:
"I'm married with two children who are also married and out on their own. Between them I have two beautiful grandsons and expecting to get a new granddaughter latter this summer. I started riding smaller motorcycles as a teen, but very limited. Then did some dirt bike riding here on our farm. I got my first street bike at the age of 43 for my 25th wedding anniversary. gift. It was a Honda Shadow 600 VLX, great starter bike. From there I went onto a Harley 1200 Custom Sportster, great bike but hated the vibrations. Then there was my 1999 FXR2, one of Harley's first Factory Custom bikes. I loved that bike and really hated giving it up, but did want to move on up to a larger ride. Now I have the 2003 Road King Classic. Now this is really a great bike. It gives you both the sporty look, yet can tour with the best of them. It's funny but I feel even more stable on this big bike than I ever did on any of the others.

We have traveled to quite a few great places, but both my husband and myself will tell anyone who ask that this motorcycle trip through the Alps was by all means the best ever. We hope to do another ride like this."


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