In the fall of 2019, noted motorcyclist and explorer Martynas Majauskas started planning his journey to the mecca of motorcycle roads — the Alp Mountains.
In America, all the road-trips led to California. And various adventure seekers were heading to the West, starting their roads in cities, passing canyons, and ending up on the golden coasts of California.
In Europe, on the other hand, most pilgrim journeys led to historical hubs of European civilization. Where the roads are passing the paradise of the Alp Mountains, which for many, is the main reason for having a motorcycle. Blessed with amazing views and sublime paths, this is a fantastic destination for a holiday on two wheels. And that’s what Martynas Majauskas took advantage of.
To find the best route, he was heading to the South of Europe. He planned to get up early, ride around 500 km a day, and in two weeks, cover most of the Alpine passes. The road trip is about the journey and not the destination and Martynas enjoyed every bit of his exciting experience.
He started near Monaco, taking a famous Napoleon Mountain Road, which connects Geneva Lake to the Mediterranean Sea. Later on, he switched to the notorious “Route des Grandes Alpes”. Then, he moved on to Switzerland, passing Furka, Susten, Neufen, Gottard, and Grimsel. During his trip, Martynas had a pleasure to see some of the most magnificent views, and few of the mountain routes are so spectacular that some riders travel half the continent only to experience seeing this beauty.
Later on, his journey continued to Italian Alps and glorious Stelvio, which is the same height as Col d’ Iseran in France. However, most of the passes there are getting closed for winter holidays. Thus, to have a chance to ride it in Autumn, you have a months window gap starting from 1st of September till approximately the last week of it.
“While getting up and down, your gear needs to fit this rapid change of temperatures. Alpine weather can make your journey tricky. There is hot and humid Mediterranean climate down below and when you climb up it gets very chilly . Although nobody argues that the best choice of protection is the second skin of soft leathers with titanium or carbon inlets, but traveling in such versatile environment with leather protection is quite exhausting. So, I decided to use technical textile pants from Pando. Bought my first pair of Karl pants way back in 2015 and they are still like new and very comfortable. And they absolutely can go for regular jeans in the evening.
Also, when I was in the bikers fair in Milan (Eicma), I realized that people travel around the world on any transport they can only think of. Even old beetles or vintage motorcycles. We tend to create reasons why to stay at home, but the truth is that everyone can travel. For instance, around ten years ago, a rider Nick Sanders proved that it is possible to go through mountains and deserts, even on Yamaha R1.
Long routes do not require fancy motorcycles or assistance, as done by Evan McGregor. I chose what was the closest to me – Honda Varadero (2004 year), which costs just around 2 thousand euros. During the journey, I realized that less is more, as there are not that many chances that something will get broken. But Alps are full of expensive BMW GS or Ducati Multistrada, and it made me feel like I was an “underdog.” “
During his travels, Martynas covered about 9000 km in the tight map area from Napoleon route starting near Monaco in the West to the Dolomites, reaching Slovakia. And while burning 500 liters of benzene and spending 14 days mostly on Alpine roads, he came up with several conclusions:
- The majority of Alp passes were constructed during medieval eras when first locals were passing mountains afoot with parcels or stock animals. And only later, with the increase of trade and post traffic, shepherd trails began to look more like full gravel roads. At the beginning of the century, those roads were covered with asphalt, but some dangerous sections are being remade up until now to accommodate cars and trucks.
- Riding the roads which have such a history and have mouth-watering views of the landscape is an amazing experience, worth all the time and effort spent to get there.
- Right roads are challenging to organize – it takes mastery of knowledge and experience. One of those roads is a result of a meticulous sculpture design.
- The roads itself were constructed in the 1930s. They were created with the use of engineering knowledge and designed to maximize the riding pleasure of motorized transport, which was already becoming a massive thing in the early century. The immaculate tarmac, precise German engineering, and mathematical sculpture of curves gave birth to the king of the mountain roads – Grossglockner. This road was built from Zell am See in the North to Leinz in the South, passing the Mountain range, which was unpassable before.
- While spiraling the road two times back and forth, you could notice how well-made it is in comparison to the other mountain roads. Each curve has a generous radius, definite shape, and precise asphalt levels.
Martynas’ Advice For Alps Travelers
“When in doubt, if you see something interesting, stop – you probably won’t see it again. Be decisive: take a picture, eat lunch, take that side road, go up the mountain, say “Hi” to that person. By the time you finish overthinking your decisions, you might already miss out on the opportunity.”
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