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Berlin to Milan through the Alps

Old 06-26-08, 09:50 AM
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Berlin to Milan through the Alps

I have been planning this trip for the past 6 months and since then everyone has backed out on me due to conditions out of our control (bike stolen twice, drafted to civil service twice). This is still not stopping me from making this trip. Once in Italy I plan on working on an organic farm for 4 months or so (WWOOfing). For the entire time I was not planing to bike the apls, but recently I felt the need to take on a chalenge that I might not be able to accomplish. My plan before was to ride from Berlin to München in nine days and from ther take a train to Venice and then bike my way back to Milan. As for training I think I'm in the green, back home in Arizona I was biking 35km a day with ease plus school and work. Now I'm looking at some routs through the alps but not sure where to start since I have no real touring expierence nor any with climbing hills. I have a Surly LHT stock with rear panniers packed with no more that 15-17kg.

What route would you suggest me taking? How many days should I plan for if I were to take it semi easy, say 60-70%? or is that too much? Should I be upgading my bike to help with climbing/touring in general? Pack lighter or any specific gear that would be unbelievably helpful? Are the cops really as bad as I have heard? Plus any resources with maps or routs through the alps would also be very helpful. Any other useful tips you feel like sharing? or any other questions?

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Old 06-26-08, 12:24 PM
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The Via Claudio Augusta goes from mid Germany to Italy. Why not ride from Berlin to Milan?
https://www.esterbauer.com/buecher/uek/vca_uek.htm

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Old 06-27-08, 04:21 PM
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Assuming you still are planning on going through München...

1. The easy way: München - Mittenwald - Innsbruck - Bolzano - Verona, and straight west to Milano. That would mean only two passes: Scharnitzpass (<1000 meters) and Brennerpass (1375 meters). Both are very easy compared to any other route. (I did the München - Bolzano part of that route ten years ago (before heading towards Venice)).

2. A more direct route: Map. This would involve some more serious climbing (I believe the Maloja pass at 1800 metres would be the high point), but nothing extreme at all. And if you find out that climbing passes are great fun there are detours at hand .

I would definitely take the second choice (unless you like to see more towns, like Bolzano, Trento and Verona).

I usually travel with about 20 kg in the panniers (front and rear), and I'd say that alpine terrain reduces daily distances by 10-20 percent (for me that usually means doing 60-80 kms on most days, highly dependent on distances between passes). After ten days on the road you'll probably be very much in shape. I guess you have a triple on your LHT? No need for lower gears then.

Cops bad? Only run-in with the law I have had was riding (slowly) down the no-biking 16% hill into Innsbruck. Most car drivers will give plenty of space in the mountains (but motor bikes sometimes don't, and they sound like tanks in tunnels).

The Michelin 1:200 000 maps are good, otherwise you shouldn't have any trouble finding good maps in Berlin. For alpine inspiration, check out Virtual Alps.
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Old 06-30-08, 12:09 AM
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Alpine Passages

Having spent almost 10 years studying minority cultures in Northern Italy, Austria and Slovenija, I have to ask you what you motivation for this trip is. It is easy to get lost in any one of the several remote regions of the alps for years at a time due to the fact that many of these areas are unknown to the outside world.

Consider this alternative: Forget the Milan to Berlin concept - these destinations are too far apart in so may ways (culturally, geographically, etc.) and ask yourself which experience you want to immerse yourself in. The Milan-Berlin concept covers a ton of mileage, but it takes you through the intersections of several cultural areas, as opposed to the epicenters of those cultures. There are three language groups alone (Cimbro, Mocheno and Ladin) that meet in the main valley of the Alto Adige River that runs the short distance from Bolzano through Trento down into Lago di Garda near Verona.

Should you select one (or three) of these cultural areas for immersion, you could string together a series of loops, each one fully exploring the terrain and people of a unique cultural area. You could coordinate train segments between them, to get you to the "Cultural Zones" faster, and miss the long stretches of Italian Autostrada (the absolute worst scenario for cyclists) and enjoy narrow, winding roads that connect hundreds of villages along the way.

If this is something you would consider, I'd love to share my cycling experiences with you in these specific regions. Not everyone is a fan of "thematic adventures", but having cycled through almost all of these regions, I can assure you that they are not to be missed. You would be like the second foreigner to ever come rolling through many of these villages.

Enjoy the planning - it's one of the most exciting parts of the experience!
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Old 06-30-08, 05:04 AM
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scthomson, that's one of the most interesting / tantalising posts I've read in ages! Do you have a blog of your rides?
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Old 06-30-08, 05:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Csson
Innsbruck - Bolzano - Verona, and straight west to Milano. That would mean only two passes: Scharnitzpass (<1000 meters) and Brennerpass (1375 meters). Both are very easy compared to any other route. (I did the München - Bolzano part of that route ten years ago (before heading towards Venice)).
I did this route and the scenery was gorgeous on the Austrian side. Po Valley was a bit boring...
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Old 06-30-08, 06:20 AM
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If you still consider riding from Berlin southwards it would make sense to contact a branch of the ADFC (German bicycle touring club). They offer maps specifically for bike tourers, showing the most adequate & interesting routes for cycling. Their homepage: www.adfc.de Unfortunately only in German

A very interesting possibility would be to check out the cycle trails along the main European rivers. They are signed out like most of the overland trails. These routes usually go along small roads with little or no traffic.
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Old 06-30-08, 07:48 AM
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A few additional recommendations, albeit from someone with less direct experience than some posters here.

1) www.mapmyride.com - you can sketch out your route and check the elevations. The elevations aren't completely accurate, but you can get a general idea of where you're headed.

2) https://www.germany-tourism.de/cyclin...ermany_map.htm is an interactive map of various cycling routes in Germany. It's not specifically made for point-to-point but may give you some good ideas about specific routes.

My feeling is that you can very likely accomplish this, even solo, as long as you are prepared, pick a good route and keep your wits about you.



Originally Posted by Der Evan
As for training I think I'm in the green, back home in Arizona I was biking 35km a day with ease plus school and work. Now I'm looking at some routs through the alps but not sure where to start since I have no real touring expierence nor any with climbing hills. I have a Surly LHT stock with rear panniers packed with no more that 15-17kg.
With that much commuting you have a good base. However I highly recommend that you do some longer rides -- at least 50, possibly 70 if you think you can do it. Basically, this will get you mentally ready for some of the challenges on the tour.

By the way, while everyone varies, I've found that I tend to cover about 16km per hour when on tour. What you might want to do, if you have time, is do a weekend tour. That will give you a good idea of what gear and skills you need; what kind of things you can leave behind; give you an idea of how much ground you cover in an hour; indicate how many hours a day you want to ride.



Originally Posted by scthomson
Having spent almost 10 years studying minority cultures in Northern Italy, Austria and Slovenija, I have to ask you what you motivation for this trip is.....
Seems pretty clear that he has two motivations: 1) get to Milan by bike and 2) tourism.

Immersion is great, for those who have the time; but it sounds like Evan has that one covered by his plan to spend 4 months farming in Italy.
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Old 06-30-08, 02:24 PM
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Since I posted last I did a little tour for a day to a festival, Fusion Festival if you know of it, 130km north of Berlin near Mirow. I left at two in the afternoon and had nothing but a nasty head wind for the first 90km. That kicked me to the ground for the rest of the tour but once I arrived and chilled for a bit the party started and continued for three days strait! highly recomended if you are in the area next year on june 26th.

Cssone- thats some good advie and will take that into consideration when I lay out a cursory route.

scthompson- this is something that I would love to do, but not this time. I promised myself to learn a third language before I'm 25 and figured I would get a head start now and learn Italian. I picked italian because the guy who picked me up while hitchhiking last summer made it sound so beautiful. Plus Milan is not what is important, its the farms which are in the area just south of Milan that interest me more. However that being said I wont miss the chance to see what I can when I am in the area. I will get some reasearch together before I head out. Plus that trip sounds to be a bit our of my budget. I worked for four months so I could spend at least eight doing whatever I wanted and most of what I made went into the bike setup I have now.

Tourism :The process by which space that has not be allocated to production or housing (i.e. the eradication of real life) is turned into a place where fake life can be had...for a price.

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Old 07-01-08, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Der Ev@n
Tourism :The process by which space that has not be allocated to production or housing (i.e. the eradication of real life) is turned into a place where fake life can be had...for a price.
Very nice. Judge much lately?

Anyway, call it whatever you want, but for at least part of this trip you're a genuine bona-fide tourist. You are, after all, traveling through several regions, with no intent to become a permanent member of the community, primarily for your own edification, entertainment and/or experiences.

Or do you intend to ride through the Alps staring at the asphalt the entire time, and not engage in any social or economic contact for fear of contaminating the locals with your, uh... non-localness?

I don't see anything "fake" about respectful forms of tourism; not everyone hops from McDonald's to McDonald's when they travel. You cycle through a town, treat your hosts graciously and modestly, chat in a friendly fashion with the locals, soak up the scenery, sample the local cuisine, get back on your bike and repeat. What's wrong, unreal or fake about that?
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Old 07-02-08, 04:14 AM
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Please don't be offended by my words, I think we too would have similar ideas about this subject we simply are using different terms and deffinitions. My real argument lies with heirarchy and capitalism, and that eventualy leads to thoughts on tourism and every other aspect of life. But this is not the forum for discussing the ideologies rather advice on how I might be able to tackle the alps.

Any other thoughts on how I might be able to do that?

Der Evan

Last edited by Der Ev@n; 07-02-08 at 04:17 AM.
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Old 07-16-08, 11:19 PM
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Blogless...

Most of these rides happened before blogs even existed, but I have them all notated in worn travel journals stuffed with maps and photographs. Someday I'll get them online. The region of the Alps is so remarkable because it is so misunderstood. Any venture into any part of the region is almost guaranteed to be memorable. I had the good fortune of living, traveling and studying throughout the region for many years, and I even worked as bicycle tour guide in the midst of it all. It is rare for most people to have this much to time in a small area, so I feel a certain duty to share what I've experienced with others who are interested.

Let me know if there's a particular area that peaks your curiosity.
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Old 07-20-08, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Der Ev@n
How might I be able to tackle the alps?
Der Evan
Yes, the Via Claudia Augusta bicycle path which takes you from Germany via Fuessen over the Alps into Italy. Have you seen the route or searched for it online? This page is a good one: https://www.viaclaudia.at/en/vca-bereisen/bavaria/
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