We were leaving Lauterbrunnen to head for one of the motorcycling biggies as far as alpine routes are concerned, the Furka, Grimsel and Sustenpass loop. I had originally considered adding the Splugen Pass as an option but it was closed due to a big landslide. The guys had opted to stay in the campsite in Andermatt, so all that was left to decide was which order we'd do the passes in. We had planned to head to Andermatt to dump our gear meaning we'd ride part of the loop twice. Egor had his shit packed up faster than Gerrit and I so he chose Sustenpass to be the first loop. This suited me as I'd not ridden the loop in a clockwise direction before. Egor set off on his own, arranging to meet us at the top of Sustenpass.
It was great to be riding a proper pass again. The Sustenpass has all the right mix of good corners, views and visibility. The phenomenally heavily enforced 80 kph/50 mph speed limit is fast enough to make the twisty bits fun while you can take the views in on the short straights. Gerrit seemed to really enjoy his first proper alpine pass. Sure enough, Egor was waiting at the top along with a shit ton of snow.
Gerrit in the Alps
We made our way down to Andermatt. The campsite there has taken quite a kicking from the online reviews. I'll be honest, it's a fucking rip off. Especially when compared to what you get at Lauterbrunnen for the same money. Unfortunately its the only campsite there and Switzerland's expensive reputation shines strong in Andermatt. At least the scenery is nice.
We got the tents up then headed off towards the Furka pass. The sun was out and the whole place looked amazing. There were bikes and fancy cars all over the place, but it didn't feel too busy the way some passes can be. We stopped for a wee bit to eat. A cheese toastie and a juice coming in at the bargain price of £12. The views from the Furka are amazing. You can see the Grimsel pass zig zagging it's way up the opposite hill. It's quite spectacular.
On the way down the Furka I managed to lose Egor and Gerrit. Then I managed to miss the turn for the Grimsel, the one with the huge sign saying "GRIMSEL" with an arrow pointing the way to go. Luckily Egor and Gerrit's navigation was a bit better than my own. They hadn't followed my lead but my detour meant that they were now quite a bit in front of me. When I got to the top of the Grimsel I was surprised to see the lake still mostly frozen. I messaged the guys and arranged to meet back in Andermatt before heading down back towards the Sustenpass. It was looking pretty grim in that direction and sure enough it was pishing down by the time I got to the Sustenpass. Still, it gave the Metzler Tourance Next tyres a good wet test. They're really quite impressive. Easily on par with Continental's Train Attack 2 while seeming to wear more consistently. I'll do a full review on them soon.
It had dried off by the time I arrived back in Andermatt. I met the guys at the shops where we bought food to cook on the minimalist campsite, there wasn't anywhere that seemed to be affordable to eat, but back at the campsite we had the wee shelter with a table under it. Pasta and pesto with some nice fresh bread and a few beers while taking in the alpine views was as good as any restaurant, plus we had the boombox for some nice ambient music, although Gerrit may not be in agreement with me on how good the music was.
We left Switzerland via the Gotthard pass, opting to take the Tremola, the old, cobbled road. The cobbled made it slow going but the views were of the usual mind blowing variety. When we got into Italy everything changed. Gone was the sensibly slow driving and reserved quietness, we were in the land of shouting, horns, hand gestures and chaotic, anything goes, madness. It was great fun once you got your brain dialled in, filtering like a scooter and trying to to jump too much when a Ducati overtakes at four times the speed limit. The biggest shocker of the day was me managing to navigate my way to Abbadia Lariana, our usual place to stay on the banks of lake Como. This one one of Egor's must do's for the trip. We had two days at Como pretty much doing nothing apart from eating nice food, drinking and taking the odd splash in the lake to cool down. We visited the Moto Guzzi factory as usual too. It's always good to have a day or so off the bikes. Recharge your mental batteries, wash your clothes and generally chill out.
More in Part 3.