Friday, July 03, 2015

The European Trip, Day 26 - St. Gotthard and Furka Passes

I left Bormio after breakfast this morning, at 8AM and would arrive at Goeschenen, Switzerland shortly before 4PM.  Long day of riding.  Didn't take any pictures till I got close to Saint Gotthard Pass north of Airolo.

Climbing on State Road 2 north of Airolo

A view of Airolo as one climbs towards the pass

Old St. Gotthard Pass Road from New St. Gotthard Pass Road

First though, after failing to find an inexpensive room in the town of Andermatt, I found one online at the nearby town of Goeschenen, even though it was more expensive than the last two hotels I'd stayed at in Italy.  Oh well.

After getting cleaned up and a small dinner, I headed back out to shoot Old Saint Gotthard Pass as opposed to the New Saint Gotthard pass which while having some twists, is just kind of boring.

The St Gotthard Pass sign is on the new road

When I got there, there was thick fog billowing out of the valley below.  Steve of Scooterinthesticks would have loved it, and done a better job with the fog than I managed.  So I drove the rig straight down to the bottom level past all the hairpin turns and rode till the road met State Road 2.

Looking upwards into the fog, after negotiating the last
hairpin turn on Old St Gotthard Pass Road.

Weird looking concrete structure I found on the way to
the new road.  I wonder what its function is?

This is cow country, lots of these cows on the pass, 
I would find some more later as well.

I got on State Road 2 and rode towards Furka Pass, hoping to catch the last bits of the sunset.  I found traffic stopped on westbound Furkastrasse for unknown reasons soon after passing through Hospenthal.  I thought perhaps there'd been an accident in the town of Realp just ahead but that wasn't it.

Traffic moved for a bit but then slowed to a crawl and became stop and go.  This is on the road between towns so it wasn't something you could maneuver around; though several squids did "lane filter" past all the cars and I while we moved in spurts.

Finally, got to a point on the road where I could see what the problem was:  It was a Cow Stau!
Stau is German for traffic jam, hence my use of the word.  It looked like farmers were herding a whole bunch of cows, moving them from one field to another, and using the road as the way to do it!

Cow Stau

After perhaps 30 minutes or so of this mess, the cows were finally removed from the road and traffic started moving again.  Made it to Furka Pass just in time to catch the last bits of sunset.

Following pictures were shot from a location just west of the Furka Pass Sign:

Following shots were done as I rode back towards the hotel along Furkastrasse:

One last look towards Furka Pass

I rode home in the gathering darkness, thinking I'll have to hit Furka Pass in the early morning tomorrow as it should be quite scenic.  I'll be hitting other passes as well that are near here, thanks to info given to me by Gary France.  Thanks Gary!


VStar Lady said...

Gee, great scenery just seems to follow you Dom. I especially like the last 'Ural in the fog' photo...and what would a pastoral scene be without cows blocking traffic?

SonjaM said...

Great after-sunset pic. Definitely header-worthy. The combination of Grimsel, Furka and Susten Pass are an awesome round trip and doable in a day's ride. I wonder if you get a chance to do them all.

I haven't heard any issues with your rental rig just yet. No loose screw? No oil dripping? No electrical failure? I mean, it's a Ural after all... ;-)

redlegsrides said...

VStar Lady, must happen often, the cow stau, everyone seemed very calm.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks SonjaM though are you trying to jinx me? The headlight did flicker on/off several times on the return ride last night but seems ok now. No oil leaks, nothing has fallen off that I am aware of. :)

Martha said...

Honey, I don't think Sonja is trying to jinx you. Instead, I think she is eager to be called into duty as your Ural Rescue Volunteer! :)

Again, I'm reminded it is just as well that I flew home. It would have been another day of this monkey sitting with her eyes closed going through the fog, waiting for the cattle to cross the road.

Trobairitz said...

Oooh beautiful sunset pictures made even more beautiful by the setting.

Glad you are having so much fun. The fog looked pretty chilly though.

redlegsrides said...

Trobairitz, the fog was indeed heat-sucking cold. Weird too how it seemed to boil up from the river up to the top of the pass. It was like the river was boiling. would have done fine.

RichardM said...

I like the road in the first photo, hanging off a cliff! And nice fog shots too.

So how does the low slung Ural handle when compared the the 2WD models? I've read that the 18" wheels make a big difference in handling.

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, one of my friends back in Colorado, Steffen, has a Retro and he's hard to keep up with if at all when he's at speed. His rig, being lower, corners much better than the Patrols....

The one I am renting has great pickup, and corners well but I have managed to pick up the chair slightly a couple of time when I went into a right hand hairpin turn too hot, perhaps a few inches off the ground before I corrected but still....