August 31-September 1, 2013
Jump to Part II
Summer’s end was rapidly approaching and it was only right to continue to take advantage of the region’s roads before the snow began to fly and the alpine passes closed for the winter. It was decided that myself, Dan, Bob and his wife Niki would take off for the weekend, riding to an undetermined destination. We had discussed a general loop that would take us into southern Germany, around Lake Constance (Bodensee) and then drop us into the Appenzell region of Switzerland.
Saturday morning dawned bright but Dan decided not to go on the ride. Awesome husband that he is, he encouraged me to go without him, so I did. I met up with Bob and Niki and we spent about ten minutes trying to get all three of our Sena Communication devices to talk to each other. We had previously paired each set with our partners, but this was the first time adding a third party to the system. Eventually we worked it out and now there were two additional voices in my head. I asked Bob to lead, as he had worked out a preliminary route up to Titisee and then eastward towards the Bodensee. He had decided to take the most direct route for the initial portion of our ride so that we could get into fresh territory that much sooner.
The ride up to Titisee was nice, but not terribly exciting. I recognized some of the place names from a previous ride to the popular lakeside resort town and thought about the smaller, more intimate roads that were on either side of me. A few cars were in front of us going just slow enough for me to want to pass, but just fast enough to not be able to. Bob and Niki were generally quiet on the intercom during this time, at least until we got to Titisee. There was some confusion regarding the GPS and the intended route and it was great to be able to discuss our options while riding. After a quick detour we were back on track and heading east towards the Bodensee. This was new territory for me and the scenery was opening up. Even though the sun was shining the morning haze still hung over the landscape, dulling the rolling hills and lush farmlands. Despite the views, the time saving route that we were on was getting tedious. I glanced down at my GPS and saw some more interesting squiggles off to one side and asked Bob if he was up for a bit of a detour. He said that he was and I took over the lead, taking us from the traffic-laden main road to a much more delightful and rural path.
Somewhere near Doggingen (DE)
Bob and Niki
Coming into Engen (DE)
We enjoyed quite a bit of time exploring before we finally ran out of backroads and had to join the parade of vehicles that lined the shore of the Bodensee. By now the haze had lifted, but the clouds still obscured any view of the Alps that might have otherwise greeted us. There was poor planning on our part, as this was the weekend for the Eurobike Show and the sheer volume of bicycles we saw was a testament to the popularity of the event. The bicycles stuck to the bike paths, but the traffic was backed up anyway, causing miles of stop-and-go movement. We had originally planned on stopping in Friedrichshafen for lunch and to investigate the possibility of taking a ferry across the lake, but now we wanted nothing more than to get out of here.
Vineyard along the Bodensee
Sitting in traffic
The Bodensee is a large lake and it took us a long time to travel its length. The entire passage wasn’t awful. Periodically the roads opened up and I was able to get some airflow through my mesh jacket. The scenery wasn’t all bad, either. The lake was heavily dotted with boats of all types and sizes and the number of vineyards was surprising to me. There were also other motorcyclists to wave to and exotic cars to admire.
Boats on the lake
Nice car in “Arrest Me” red
Once we got past Friedrichshafen things got better. The traffic moved quickly, although we never had the roads to ourselves. We had stopped for gas and reviewed our options. There was no way that we wanted to continue on our present course around the lake and instead decided to shoot further east and see what was “over there”. It turned out to be a very good choice. Just north of Lindau (DE) we skirted the Austrian border and found ourselves on the road to Scheidegg (DE), a surprisingly curvaceous stretch of pavement that climbed up one side of a mountain and flew down the other. There was a long stretch of open road for us to enjoy but unfortunately we got caught behind an incredibly slow driver before we reached the crest. The number of motorcyclists in the area assured me that this was not an unknown road.
We ended up in the small town of Scheildegg and found a likely-looking place for lunch. The building and surrounding planters were heavily adorned with flowers and being right on the main street; we were granted an interesting parade of passing vehicles. Normally I’d complain about sitting along a busy street while eating lunch, but when most of those vehicles consist of tractors hauling hay wagons, horse-drawn wagons, motorcycles of every type and the infrequent car, it is much more acceptable.
Lunch itself was very good and well-received. I ended up ordering from the children’s menu because I didn’t want a lot of food. That plan backfired, as the schnitzel and pommes I ordered covered the entire plate. I still ended up eating most of it though, as it was quite delicious.
Lunch in Scheidegg (DE)
During lunch we discussed where we were (we didn’t know if we had stopped in Germany or Austria, but it turns out we were just shy of the Austrian border) and what we would do for the rest of the ride. I had considered just riding for the day and going back to Basel that night, letting Bob and Niki do what they liked for the rest of their time. But then Niki mentioned Liechtenstein. She had always wanted to go there (as had I) and it was temptingly close. I decided that if we went to Liechtenstein then I’d stay overnight and go back to Basel on Sunday. Bob and Niki agreed that it was a fine idea and we made that our destination for the day. I studied the GPS and plotted a route that would keep us off the major motorways and bring us into the 4th smallest country in the world in time for dinner.
The roads out of Scheidegg did not disappoint. They were fast, fairly empty and had something to add to the visual feast around every corner. The sky had cleared up considerably which added a crispness to the landscape. At one point we saw at least two dozen paragliders as they descended gracefully from a local mountain. Other times I saw farmers raking in the hay by hand, picking up whatever the tractor missed. Hawks soared overhead, the sun was warm and the air smelled great. The portion of the day’s ride was making up for our time near the Bodensee and doing so with fervor!
As usual, the country roads that we found ourselves on contained all sorts of surprises. The rare spill of gravel in a corner, a tractor crossing into his field, cow droppings along the edges…all things to watch for while still enjoying the scenery.
Four-wheelers are street legal here, even on the main motorways (assuming they’re capable of minimum speeds)
Not every scene was full of bucolic farms and fields. The occasional business situated itself along the way, most of them tidy in their appearance and not detracting too terribly from the view. If nothing else, it added a welcome variation to the day.
But regardless of the villages, businesses and farms there was always one constant: beautiful views.
Somewhere near the town of Egg (A) the mountains started to get higher and steeper. I knew that we were getting closer to the Alps and it showed. The road we were on was in a wide, flat valley which just made the tall peaks that much more impressive.
Somewhere near the town of Mellau (A)
I still can’t believe that these things are legal for the street!
A rare covered bridge
Suddenly we were climbing out of the valley, and climbing fast. Unbeknownst to me, we were about to crest the Faschina – Fontanella Pass. And lucky for me, I was stuck behind what I believe to be a Shelby Cobra. Or maybe it wasn’t – the point being was that it was beautiful to look at and beautiful to hear.
It sounded it even better when it passed the two cars in front of him
The top of the Faschina – Fontanella Pass
The pass had been a surprise, but not nearly as surprising as the descent. It was even more enjoyable than the climb. The views were stupendous, with small cabins dotting the lush green fields on the far slopes. Steep rocky cliffs were tucked among the patches of deep green forests. And the road itself wound down, down, down through small settlements of tidy homes.
Coming down the other side
And every building, be it a house, barn or shed, had a plethora of geraniums hanging from the windows.
There is an odd ritual of setting up a tree to celebrate a birth – or a new roof. The rules are unclear.
Eventually the road neared the bottom of the valley and followed a rocky river. It was obvious that this thin trickle was a raging torrent in the spring time. The road never fully reached the valley floor, always staying above it and hiding from my camera’s lens.
A short while later we passed through the large town of Feldkirch and mere minutes after that I saw the border for Liechtenstein. That didn’t take long!
Liechtenstein border crossing – and no, they didn’t stop us
Continue to Part II