Picking my favorite day out of this entire trip is like picking a favorite child—every one has something special about them. That’s until I crossed over from Italy to Switzerland through the Alps. I can now shamelessly claim that today has been my favorite day.
While my experience crossing the Alps from Austria turned into a bit of a wet and miserable experience with a landscape shrouded in clouds, today, the mountains were on full display. The BMW R 1250 GS and I left the village of Borgomanero, in Italy to head out to Andelfingen, Switzerland, north of Zurich, a 200-mile journey mainly through the Alps.
The first hour or two of the ride, I got to follow the shores of Lake Maggiore—debatably more beautiful than Mr Amal Clooney’s favored Lake Como. There, you can actually take a day cruise that will take you from Aarona in Italy to Lugano, in Switzerland. Yes, a passport is required. I followed a similar path but tracing the edge of the mountains encasing the majestic lake instead. As I traveled deeper into the mountain range, I left beautiful Lake Maggiore behind me to dive deep underground.
There are two ways to cross a mountain: under and over. I got to do both today. From an endless series of tunnels spanning in length from a few dozen feet to over three miles to a pass in the snow at an altitude of 7,000 feet, this day has been the most fulfilling yet.
Gallery: Little Long Tour Day 5
If you ever wonder what driving through a 3.2-mile long concrete tube is like, it feels like a video game. This is the best description I could come up with. And 3.2 miles isn’t even the longest tunnel in the Alps—that title goes to the Mont Blanc Tunnel that takes drivers underground on a 10-mile stretch between Italy and France. The good news is that it leads you to the other side, and not into the mines of Moria.
From the depths of the rock, I then ascended 6,909 feet in altitude to cross the Saint-Gotthard Massif via the aptly named Gotthard Pass. As you can expect, the 360-degree view was breathtaking and it was hard not to stop at every rest area to take pictures.
How did the BMW handle in the hairpins this time around? I’m getting a hang of it and I’m getting to understand which gear is optimal for which maneuver. A hairpin or a roundabout is a second gear for me. While I still find it heavy to maneuver—especially if I get the brilliant idea to park on an incline, the GS has been working wonders—today I’ve spent eight hours in the saddle with a few photo stops and one actual rest. The soreness came in around two hours prior to the end of the journey, so that’s really good.
There are only a few days left to this trip and to my time with the GS and with already over 1,000 miles added to the counter, we’ve become good friends. I have a feeling leaving it behind will be bittersweet...