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Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012

  1. #1
    Lifer oVTo's Avatar
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    Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012

    I got back about a week ago from this summer's Ironstone tour and it was incredible. It's something I've wanted to do for years and finally saved up and signed up for this trip. It was a great group of people, riding on unbelievable roads with jaw dropping scenery, excellent food and beer, great stories, lots of laughs, excellent beer, and much more. There were 8 of us on six bikes (2 couples rode 2-up). We picked up the bikes outside of Zurich and spent the next 10 days riding a bunch of passes in the Alps and Dolomites, visiting Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Germany.

    Most of the bikes were BMWs, with one Yamaha Super Tenere. The guys riding BMWs solo all had the 800cc vertical twins, and the couples rode big boxers, a GS and an RT. The smaller twins were perfect for the solo riders, with more than enough power and nimble handling through the switchbacks. I had the GS and fell in love with it. I've never been a fan of the big boxer, but now I understand why it's so popular. I thought it would be a total pig riding 2-up with saddlebags and top case full. I was surprised at how well it handled all the weight even in the mountains and through the switchbacks. There was more than enough motor available whenever I needed to get by someone, and the very wide bars turn the bike quicker than I expected. It took a while to get used to them, but it was a fun bike.

    The weather was better than expected. The forecast didn't look very good before leaving. We had a bit of fog on one of the peaks the first day and just enough rain to prove our gear would keep us dry as long as we didn't ride into a lake. Most of the time we had clear blue skies. The temps were perfect - 50s at the peaks and 70s or low 80s in the lowlands.

    Joe Proia is a great tour guide. He arranged the bikes with Moto Mader in Aarau Switzerland, then led us through the passes, back roads, and autobahns to small inexpensive Gausthauses where the proprietors knew him and treated us like royalty. One of the best things about the trip was that we just followed Joe around not knowing or caring when or where the day's riding would end. The unbelievable part is that he does this for no profit. Everything is pay-as-you-go, which makes the trip as inexpensive as a Euro bike tour can be. I can't thank Joe enough for letting us join this year's group.

    A couple of interesting differences between here and there. Passing other vehicles is much more aggressive, especially in the mountains. It's expected by the other traffic so once you get used to it, it's no big deal. My wife did scream "No!!!!!!!!" once or twice the first few days, but none of the passing resulted in any drama. And there are about 100 million billion traffic cameras over there. In a month or two you may read about an unexpected influx of U.S. cash solving the European financial crisis. That will be due to the rental company forwarding the tickets and Autobahn tolls to our little group.

    If you've never ridden Alpine passes, I recommend adding a trip like this to your bucket list. But it's like track days, an addiction. I'm already thinking about how to justify going back. After all, the map clearly shows many mountain passes left to explore...

    Here's a few pics:

    I brought my QStarz lap timer and used travel mode to record where we went. Turn it on in the morning and upload our travels at night. It's a very cool little toy on and off the track.
    Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012-7658674458_a867b5bc80_b-jpg


    This is Umbrail Pass in Switzerland, near the Italian Border. Not the best quality pictures but I only brought a point 'n shoot camera with me.
    Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012-7657704182_86fbccb3ac_c-jpg


    Stelvio Pass, in Italy. The passes are miles and miles of switchbacks, this is just one little piece of it. The scenery was breath-taking all day long.
    Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012-7657703630_bfd262f152_c-jpg

    On the map, it looks like this:
    Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012-7658759570_4598c6618d_c-jpg


    We spent one day touring a couple of castles, and another day in Munich visiting the usual tourist haunts - Marienplatz, the English Garden, etc. This is Neuschwanstein Castle, built by "Mad King Ludwig". It was never finished.
    Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012-7657703288_ef32095e4f_c-jpg


    After the bike tour, my wife and I drove to Geneva. Randomly walking around, I stumbled on the Mechanical Art Devices Gallery. I'd seen these bikes in bike magazines but never thought I'd see them in real life. They are stunningly beautiful. And they even let me sit on them! Here's a link for better pics. They have 'mechanical art' other than bikes, and all of it was creative and beautiful stuff.
    Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012-7657702092_3be48bd141_c-jpgIronstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012-7657702560_8c1b33cd4b_c-jpg

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    DanG
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  2. #2
    Lifer SprintPoser's Avatar
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    Re: Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012

    Amazing. I've also been wanting to join Joe on that trip. Help me out, if you were to do it again how much would you set for a total all-inclusive budget?

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    2021 Triumph Street Triple R, Sapphire Black

  3. #3
    Lifer oVTo's Avatar
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    Re: Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012

    Riding solo, I'd budget $5,000-$6,000. Renting a smaller bike (800cc) and sharing a room would put you near the lower end of the range; a bigger bike and your own room should be around the upper end. For a couple riding two-up, I'd budget $8,000-$8,500.

    Airfare was $1,200 each, the rooms were about 100Euro/night with breakfast, food and drink was probably about $600-$650 each, gas about $300, and another few hundred for miscellaneous stuff like train ride from airport to the bike shop, tourist stuff, souvenirs, etc.

    Currency exchange rates are a huge factor. Last year at this time the Swiss Franc was about $1.25 and the Euro was $1.45. This year, they were about $1 and $1.25. So last year's trip would have been about 20% more expensive.

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    DanG
    People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.
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    Lifer SprintPoser's Avatar
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    Re: Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012

    Thanks for the info, oVTo. Looks like I've got a lot of saving to do if I ever wish to go there with Joe. He & I go way back, great guy, lovely wife.

    I'd be far more enticed into doing the trip if he'd find a Triumph rental though! I've ridden some BMW's and just not a fan of those boxer twins nor the parallel ones. Give me a Triumph triple and I'd be drooling about going there.

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    2021 Triumph Street Triple R, Sapphire Black

  5. #5
    Lifer oVTo's Avatar
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    Re: Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by SprintPoser View Post
    Thanks for the info, oVTo. Looks like I've got a lot of saving to do if I ever wish to go there with Joe. He & I go way back, great guy, lovely wife.

    I'd be far more enticed into doing the trip if he'd find a Triumph rental though! I've ridden some BMW's and just not a fan of those boxer twins nor the parallel ones. Give me a Triumph triple and I'd be drooling about going there.
    You'd have to pick it up in Barcelona, but here's a Triumph rental - http://www.rentatiger.es/main.html# I guess you have to go now! Starting in Spain and riding northeast would be a great trip - Barcelona, Marseilles, Monaco, Martigny, Como, Bormio, etc.

    I've known Joe since becoming an instructor about 13 years ago and agree completely, both Joe and his wife are great people. If you've known him a long time then you can guess how much fun this trip was. Here's an old Triumph we saw in Munich -
    Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012-7671993058_d326e52c5f_c-jpg

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    DanG
    People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.
    - Blaise Pascal

  6. #6
    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Ironstone Ventures Euro Tour 2012

    So awesome. I'd absolutely love to do something like that one day.

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