Bikesure ambassador UsernameKate, AKA Kate Ralph, details the magical European motorcycle trips she’s been on with her partner Mike. From the Isle of Man TT to the beautiful scenery at Stelvio Pass.
Mike and I have been fortunate enough to travel to some truly epic places on motorcycles. Whilst some of the more memorable trips have been in Europe, the restriction on international travel over the last few years has inspired us to explore the sights on our own doorstep.
Here are some of our favourite trips!
Some of the best passes you’ll ever ride are in Switzerland
Riding around Switzerland will always serve as one of my favourite trips. Mike at the time had a Ducati Hypermotard, and myself a KTM Duke 690. We decided to take our bikes in the back of our van. After a big journey to Switzerland from the UK, we arrived at Andermatt, a quaint town in the Swiss mountains.
We unloaded our bikes at the town’s campsite and blew up our inflatable double bed in the back of the van. It absolutely hammered it down and the rain hitting the van roof was strangely therapeutic.
The next day, we tackled the main Swiss passes: the Gotthard, the Grimsel, the Furka and the Susten Pass. The Susten pass was my favourite. The sound of my single cylinder reverberating through the mountains and fast, meandering roads were intoxicating. Definitely something all bikers need to experience!
The Isle of Man TT
The atmosphere, the excitement and the place where you can overtake police officers at over 100mph legally!
The IOM TT is the mecca for motorcyclists. It’s the one event in the motorcycling calendar that attracts thousands of road-racing fans, ready to cheer on their favourite riders and witness records being broken. The IOM TT has to be on your motorcyclist bucket list.
If you’re about the social side of biking, you’re bound to make lifelong friends with like-minded folk on the island and bond over a beer at the pubs, the campsite, the house share or even at the side of the road while you wait in anticipation for the races to begin.
As much as Mike and I enjoy the racing, we particularly love riding the infamous mountain road. This is a road with no speed limit and is made to be one way for a limited period of time over the event.
It is absolutely intoxicating riding your bike over the mountain road, flat out as fast as you can handle. Top tip, if you want to ride the mountain, it’s wise to get up early and ride it when it’s less busy, as the mountain road is frequently closed due to bikers overestimating their talents!
Taking in the breathtaking views at the NC500
A naive woman once said ‘since international travel is difficult, I’ll settle for Scotland’… that naive woman was me!
There is no ‘settling’ for Scotland, that’s an insult to the place as after riding the famous NC500 route with Mike last year, it’s easy to understand why thousands of bikers, campers, car clubs and hikers flock to Scotland in the prime months.
The views along this route are absolutely breathtaking. I think my most overused phrases whilst riding through Scotland were… ‘wow, just wow’ and ‘oh my lord’ as incredible scenery unfolds around every corner.
With this trip, we planned a little and winged it a little. Some hotels/B&Bs were booked in advance, some were booked on the move using booking.com. I think as long as you’re quite flexible on location, you shouldn’t struggle to accommodate. What’s 30 miles out of your way when you’re on an adventure?
My absolute favourite town had to be Ullapool, a small fishing town on the west side of the country. Plenty of good grub and a sea cruise that we managed to hop on at the last minute where we were fortunate enough to see dolphins. An experience I won’t forget.
Germany… to the Nordschleife we go!
Another bucket list riding experience for a lot of bikers is to tackle the Nurburgring! Mike and I have done a total of six and a half laps each of the ring, and if you haven’t done it before, it’s definitely something you should consider doing.
There is something extremely exhilarating about a Mitsubishi Evo flying past, a whiskers gap apart from you.
There are a few things to remember when riding the Nurburgring that will help to keep you alive:
1) Use your mirrors… a lot! There are some very very fast cars/bikes on the ring and they fly up very quickly on you. Looking in your mirrors will help you to move over for the faster things that want to make swift progress past you.
2) Use your right indicator and keep right as you get overtaken, make your lines predictable and stay out of the way.
3) Don’t be a hero. It’s very easy for things to go very wrong on the Nurburgring and when it does, it’s very pricey. This is why many insurers will not cover you for riding the Nordschleife. Don’t get caught out by thinking you’re automatically covered.
Climbing up the scenic Stelvio Pass in Italy
When you think of iconic motorcycle passes, the Stelvio Pass in Italy is probably the first one many bikers’ would have thought of.
The Stelvio Pass is a mountain pass with an elevation of 2,757m above sea level and boasts a whopping 48 hairpins along the way to the top.
There is also a nice cafe at the top which is welcomed for a rest, as it is quite a physical pass and demands a lot, not just from your body but from your mind too.
A top tip when climbing the Stelvio Pass is before you take on the switchbacks, look up to check that your path is clear, as the bends are so tight you will more than likely end up on the wrong side of the road.
And finally, the beauty of getting to the top is you get to come down the other side and trust me, it’s almost as fun as going up!
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