Pushing the Passes

Trying to get to Grimsel early in the season

March 9, 2014

The weather had been fantastic and I was determined to go out and enjoy it. Dan declined to join me so I headed south on the Transalp to see what the alpine passes looked like. I knew that Grimsel would be closed but that didn’t stop me. I got on the bike and headed south into the sunshine.

Plenty of other motorcycles were out today

It was a bit hazy in the Jura Mountains, but I knew that as I went south, the air would clear and I would see some wonderful snow covered mountains.

My reward

I saw only one hot air balloon today, but even that surprised me. It wasn’t terribly cold, even thought I put my heated jacket on about an hour into the ride.

Past Thunersee

And south to Meiringen

The day was only getting better. The atmosphere was getting clearer and the traffic was getting lighter. I didn’t know how far I’d get, as the sign already told me that Grimsel Pass was closed, but I wanted to see the end of the road for myself.

Glacier-fed river at Meiringen

Then the turning point of my day: I saw the sign for the Old Grimsel Pass (as you might know ii is a favorite pastime, checking out the “Old” routes. I pulled off to the side to explore only to see that it wasn’t open to motorized traffic. I turned off the bike to check it out more thoroughly, but when I got back on, the Honda wouldn’t start. The battery sounded strong but it just wasn’t getting a spark. I had half a tank of gas when I stopped, but now the indicator was on only one bar. What was going on?

Old Grimsel Pass

I gave up the idea of getting to the end of the road and instead focused on getting off the mountain. I figured that I had a lot of downhill and would try bump starting the bike. No go. Nothing would catch. I coasted by a lonely restaurant at the side of the mountain road and should have stopped. But hey – I was coasting and I’d get it eventually. Then the downslope ran out and so did the shoulders of the road.

Fortunately there was a pull out and I made it that far. I parked the bike and called Dan. I didn’t think he could help but I thought I’d at least give it a shot. We agreed that a roadside fix wouldn’t work, as we had no idea what to fix. I’d call the roadside assistance number I had. I pulled out the card and after contemplating the long wait that I was in for (Sunday, on a holiday weekend) I gave the bike one more shot.

It started.

I didn’t even question it. I put my stuff away, geared back up and headed home. I was back up to three bars and the bike ran just as smoothly as it did earlier that day. I have no idea what had happened.

Still a beautiful day, even if I did have to go home


Thunersee, a little clearer now

I reached a popular rest stop on the south side or Bern before I had to stop for gas. I didn’t want to turn off the bike, but at least now I was only an hour from home, and with many people around to help if needed. Full tank of gas later and the bike fired up with the first push of the button.

Now I knew that I could get home without stopping, so I wasn’t as concerned about how quickly I got there. I took a detour at Niederbipp and cut home through the Jura Mountains. These “mountains” aren’t as majestic as the Alps, but they are only 30 minutes from home. And personally, I find the smaller scale a little more friendly.

The southern side of the Jura

One of four castles I saw that day

The town of Oesingen (?)

Now I was in my backyard, so to speak. Passwang was the only thing between me and my garage and I was looking forward to the trip. So were the dozens of motorcycles I saw along the way. It was spring fever.

Nicely-decorated Swiss house

The traffic was miserable here. Enough cars were in front of me that passing would be pointless, and they chugged along at just barely the speed limit. Sometimes well under it, too. I kicked back and enjoyed the scenery instead of the road. I’d have time to hit the corners some other day.

Green fields of spring

Coming in for a landing

Coming down the north side of Passwang Pass

Cows coming back out to pasture

Another castle

And another small village

I made it home without incident and believe that the issue is a bad CDI, which is the only known fault of this particular motorcycle. I’ll have to do some reading, but if that’s the case, it’s a quick and easy fix.

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