Grand Tour Switzerland Motorcycle Tour Review

Talk about putting “Grand” with a capital G into the Grand Tour Switzerland Motorcycle tour.

This tour was jam packed with mountains & mountain passes, many featured on the silver screen.  If we weren’t charging up mountain roads, we were motoring through valleys passing postcard picture forests, streams, waterfalls, chalets and the like.  Not only did we ride the best roads in Switzerland, we took advantage and did some in Italy & France.

furka pass motorcycle tour

ride the furka pass

The roads were challenging and were only asking to be ridden at a spirited pace.  We were happy to oblige and indulge ourselves.

The riding & scenery were spectacular, but somehow we managed to dismount to enjoy some fabulous food.  Meal after meal, the quality & variety was amazing.

Hazelnut, pistachio breaded filet of pork

Switzerland was the headliner on this tour, but we had to sample some of France & Italy while we were in the neighborhood.

The iconic Stelvio Pass went down hard.  There were so many hairpin turns we lost count, so we just had to do it again.

After getting our fill of the Stelvio Pass, we toured the Dolomites.  These mountains are so spectacular it’s easy to take your eyes off the road.

Now that our skills were sufficiently honed, and we were in mid-season form, we took on a number of “cols” featured in the Tour de France.  Maybe not as well publicized as the Stelvio Pass or Grossglockner, but riding the French Alps is a favorite among European riders.

Galibier, Lautaret, Croix de Fer, Glandon, Ornon… we brought our “A” game to take on these monsters.  All are top shelf roads and we were blown away by them all.  Thanksfully we had delicious French cuisine to keep us fueled up.

The week passed almost as fast as we took on some of these phenomenal roads.  Looking back on it we covered some serious ground and managed to accomplish so much that would make many fellow riders jealous.

 

Wheels Wings Wine Event July 2017

 

What a day it was.  Fantastic food, wine and thrilling auto-gyro flights.

Prior to departing on our BMW Motorrad Days Motorcycle tour, M2 MotoTours organized a special event for participants to get acquainted.    It was a beautiful day for riding, flying eating, and wine tasting.

We took a short ride to our private aerodrome on the outskirts of Grenoble.  Most of the group opted for an auto-gyro flight.  They were treated to a thrilling ride with fantastic views of the mountains & valleys surrounding Grenoble.

Wilfrid, proprietor of Domaine des Rutissons vineyard pulled out all the stops and prepared a wonderful lunch.  Everything was prepared using fresh, local ingredients.  On the menu, diot sausages from Savoy, steamed in white wine on a bed of grape vines.  The sausages took on a very nice flavor.  Crosiflette which is a local dish of pasta, cream and Reblochon cheese.

Not to be forgotten was the wine.  Wilfrid took the time to explain each vintage, the types of grapes and how he has resurrected abandoned vines, some of which are over a hundred years old.

Not to be outdone was William, ace pilot and instructor, (also Wilfrid’s brother).  One by one he took the group seasoned riders on auto-gyro flights which everyone loved.  William likens the autogyro to motorcycles.  He explained that with the autogyro you have the freedom, the wind, the acceleration and the views you might not normally see in other vehicles, similar to a motorcycle.

Mustangs racing the autogyro.

Two Mustangs showed up and provided some high octane entertainment.  They challenged William to an impromptu drag race.  We think their tire choice wasn’t well suited for a grassy drag strip.

Sergio says M2 MotoTours scores with a great event

Some Mustangs came to race the autogyro

It was a wonderful afternoon spent eating, chatting, flying and tasting some very good wines.  We’re glad that the BMW Motorrad Days motorcycle tour participants had the chance to get acquainted in a relaxed atmosphere.  Those who were still getting over their jet-lag were glad they could take it easy before two weeks of devouring Alpine mountain passes and visiting the Motorrad Days fest in Garmisch Partenkirchen.

Special thanks to Wilfrid, William and their team for making it an unforgettable afternoon.

For more information on autogyro flights in Grenoble, contact www.enviedailes.fr, and visit the Domaine des Rutissons to learn more about the fine wines we enjoyed.

Custom Motorcycle Show Punta Bagna in Valloire

We took a slight detour on our Italian Lakes tour to stop by a ski resort in the French Alps to check out Punta Bagna custom motorcycle show.

Since 2009 Punta Bagna has attracted thousands of riders, visitors and partners such as W&W Cycles, Custom Chrome Europe, Victory & Indian Motorcycles, Vulcante, Frisco Choppers, Kustom Workshop to name a few.

Valloire normally attracts thousands of skiers every Winter.  Every June bikers visit for the Punta Bagna custom event.  Set high in the French Alps, it’s not your typical venue for a motorcycle show, which is what is so cool.

We met guys from Belgium, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy.  We wanted to meet the owner of this bike to see if those gatling guns are a factory option? and fully functional?  Fire off a couple of rounds and get tailgaters to back off quick.

Indian Motorcycles brought practically the entire fleet.

Chrome, leather, flake, fine craftsmanship were ever-present with the usual classic rock tunes filling the air.  With temps in the low 90’sF (30’s C), we were dire need of some cooler air.  We took to the bikes and headed for the Galibier mountain pass.

The cool breeze blowing across the snow felt like A/C.  We needed to keep cool negotiating this amazing road.  Punta Bagna was a great stop en route to the Italian Lakes.  We saw a lot of cool, unique bikes & met some pretty cool dudes as well.

 

Motorcycle Rental Grenoble France

If you’re looking to rent a motorcycle, or hire a motorbike in Grenoble, Lyon or Geneva, well we’ve got good news for you.

Our on-line motorcycle reservation site is up and operational.  Now you can reserve a motorbike day or night by the magic of the internet.

You can rent a BMW motorcycle such as the venerable R1200 RT , to the sensational S1000XR.

K-bike connoisseurs will appreciate the choice of the 6 cylinder K1600, offering superior comfort without sacrificing on performance.  They’ll also like the option of the K1200R or K1300GT.

The K1200R or K1300GT offer high performance with stability as if they were on rails.

The F800GT offers lightweight, nimble handling for the intermediate rider or advanced rider.  The F800 offers plenty of power for fun, with luggage while being a lot lighter and lower than the others.

All the bikes come with full insurance for the pilot & pillion, and are maintained according to the manufacturer’s standards.

If you want to go on a motorcycle tour, but the dates or duration of one of our guided tours are not convenient, check out our motorcycle rental option.  We can provide you with an off-the-shelf self-guided tour or design one to your specifications.  We’ll load it into a GPS and you can hit the road and tour at your pace.

The motorcycle rental France site can be accessed here.

BMW Passion Days Gets Your Pulse Racing

Gentlemen Start Your Engines. BMW Passion Days

The Monday following Easter is a holiday in France.  You might think that’s perfect for eating fine food, wine & cheese.  Our friends at BMW Motorrad France & BMW France had other plans for us…BMW Passion Days.

What better way to entertain the loyal following, attract new customers and cross-sell bikes to the car crowd & vice versa?  Sounds like a very tall order indeed…

Not only did BMW Motorrad France undertake the challenge, they put on a tour de force.

First, they selected the iconic Circuit Paul Ricard race track in beautiful Southern France.  (FYI, Paul Ricard hosts the Bol d’Or 24 hour endurance race, sports car racing and will welcome the return of Formula Grand Prix in 2018 after being absent for too long.)

Pit lane at Circuit Paul Ricard with M2 MotoTours at BMW Passion Days.

Do you think BMW chose a race track so participants could sit and watch a product parade or some kind of live informercial?

Far from it.  Instead riders and drivers were completely involved in the experience.  Everyone had full access to the track to see how they and their 2 or 4 wheel products perform.

That’s an awesome start, but BMW had even more to bring to the table.  What else you ask?  A complete motorcycle & car model lineup, available for track & street use.

BMW bikes & cars were available for track & street tests

As if that weren’t enough, they even provided professional drivers to give passengers a thrilling “taxi” ride around the circuit demonstrating exactly what these cars can do.  (They can do far more than you’ll experience on a test drive at your local dealer, trust us.)

The demonstration was nothing short of highly impressive.  Turning out lap times is one thing.  Doing it while explaining the features, advantages and benefits of the car at the same time is another.

BMW M4 at BMW Passion Days Circuit Paul Ricard

Overall the whole event ran like a finely tuned machine.  No one would expect anything less.

Riders were assigned to groups according to skill level.  The groups took turns of 20 minute track sessions.  Participants had at least 6 sessions which was plenty.  When the bikes weren’t on the track, the cars were.  Paul Ricard had a courtesy loge available right above the pit lane which was perfect for watching the action and having some refreshments.

Thanks goes to the BMW dealers in Southeastern region.  They rallied their customers to give up a free day to partake in some high octane, unregulated pleasure.  They didn’t have to twist many arms to get the troops to show up.  Over some 220 participants were on hand for the second annual event.  Based on some informal polling on our part, you can bet that it will be difficult to get a ticket for next year’s event.

Moto Speeder Grenoble taking care of participants & bikes at BMW Passion Days

As if product testing, getting a high speed ride wasn’t enough, there was a catered lunch and Big Jim and his motorcycle stunt show kept the lunchers entertained right on up to dessert and coffee.

BMW R NineT Racer prepared by Moto Speeder Grenoble

Special recognition goes to Moto Speeder of Grenoble.  Their expert mechanics were on hand preparing bikes for track duty.  Their experienced team had a lot of helpful advice for first-time and expert track riders.  We were thoroughly impressed with their NineT Racer build.

M2 MotoTours getting track advice pitlane at BMW passion days

Give Mother Nature some applause for pouring plenty of sunshine down on the venue, without making it too hot.  Even in full leathers the temps were ideal.

All the feedback we received was extremely positive.  From the track experience, to testing various bike or car models, as well as making new acquaintances, we can only say that we were very glad to have participated.

2 or 4 wheel fans of the brand should make it a point to attend BMW Passion Days, guaranteed to get your pulse racing.  We saw many owners of other brands in attendance.  Following the event, many admitted they will be visiting their local dealer to make a trade-in on their current machine.

M2 MotoTours going to test BMW R NineT Racer at BMW Passion Days

Would you like to test BMW bikes on a mythical race track in a picture postcard setting?  You can do that while touring Southern France with M2 MotoTours.  We’re so stoked after the event, we can’t wait to go back.  Now that the word is out, join us for a pulse racing event and unforgettable tour.

For more information, visit our Southern France Motorcycle Tour page.

 

Supermotard Alpe d’Huez

Super Moto, Supermotard at the Alpe d’Huez

The Alpe d’Huez, 21 hairpin turns, average 8.1% grade, 13% maximum, 13.8km (8.6 miles).  Climbing the Alpe d’Huez is a regular event on the Tour de France, and played host to the bobsled events during the ’68 Winter Olympics.  Besides having a world class ski resort, what else can you do to attract summertime business?

Supermotard racing.  Supermotard combines ashphalt & dirt sections requiring riders to display 3 skills: road racing, dirt track and motocross.  Born in 1979 as “Superbikers” on the American TV show “Wide World of Sports”  The idea was to find the best all around rider.

Supermotard (aka Super TT or Super Moto) has spawned its own class of motorcycles.  (Think KTM Duke, Husqvarna, Yamaha YZ426F) These bikes are equipped specially adapted tires.  Any other type of bike will not work and attempting supermotard style is not a good idea.

It also has spawned a particular riding style.  Instead of leaning into the turns, stay on top of the bike and push it down beneath you.  Result is the back wheel slides out in a drift like fashion.  Put a boot down (appropriately called an ‘outrigger’)in the turn at redline to save yourself from disaster and soon enough you’ll be slippin’ and slidin’ with the best of them.

The racing is spectacular, drifting, passing, jumps, bumps, these guys go all out.  We particularly enjoy Supermoto racing since the Alpe d’Huez plays host to a weekend of race action every August.

We never get tired of riding up the Alpe d’Huez, all 21 turns.  The race is free, you can move to different parts of the track to see the dirt or street portion better.  It attracts plenty of riders and motorcycles and all around makes for a good time.

For more information, check the supermotard website.  You can also see Supermoto racing on our motorcycle tours in France.  The Alpe d’Huez is a regular part of our European motorcycle tours as well.

What’s the deal with Tartiflette? 

 

Tarti-What?

Winter is here and so is Tartiflette season.  Although the recipe may differ from place to place, it consists potatoes, cheese, lardons (bacon), and maybe cream [which is the ingredient that is subject to dispute]

The majority of our intrepid guests sample the local specialties while on tour.  One dish that almost always gets top honors is Tartiflette.

Tartiflette is a hearty, stick to your ribs, comfort food, pure cheese goodness, food coma inducing dishes.  Its origins are in Savoy (if your geography is a little rusty, think mountains, skiing, Olympics, Alps, France) The Savoyards are said to have invented this little piece of culinary heaven.

Unlike widely exported dishes, French Onion Soup, French Fries (technically Belgian Fries), Beef Burgundy, Coq au Vin, you will have a tough time finding Tartiflette on menus outside of France, or the Alps for that matter.

We’re not sure as to why.  We surmise it might have to do something with the ingredients.  Now you’re probably saying I have potatoes, bacon and cheese so I’ve got what it takes to make Tartiflette.  Well, not so fast. 

Potatoes & bacon are readily available most anywhere, but the cheese thing is another story.  It’s not just any cheese.  It’s Reblochon.  It’s the cornerstone that keeps the whole thing together, otherwise it’s not really Tartiflette. 

Reblochon cheese comes from Savoie.  Supposedly the locals would make it for personal use as a way to dodge the tax collector.  The curious can read about its origins here on this gourmet site.  https://www.gourmet-food.com/french-cheese/reblochon-cheese-100457.aspx

Winter sports fans who flock to Alpine ski resorts ingest tons of Tartiflette each season to the delight of local restauranteurs.  At local Christmas markets you can find giant casseroles of Tartiflette with their cheesy incense mixing with the scent of mulled wine filling the air.  Frankly it’s hard to resist the Siren’s song of Tartiflette beckoning you to partake in its cheesy potato lardon goodness.

You will find Tartiflette on the menu in every French Alpine Ski resort.  That’s a sign that there’s something good about it.

Once our guests have had the chance to savor a real Tartiflette, the choruses of superlatives rings forth:  “the best…the most comforting….the tastiest…the cheesiest…”  it goes on and on .

Quite often, we’re asked for the recipe.  We issue the standard disclaimer, that if you don’t have access to Reblochon cheese, it won’t be the real deal.  We think the best way of enjoying Tartiflette is after a long day of motorcycle touring.  If you like motorcycle riding, join us for an Alps motorcycle tour and you can savor Tartiflette to your heart’s content.

This one dish wonder is a great way to recharge your batteries after conquering Alpine mountain passes.  Those who’ve had an authentic Tartiflette will agree.  If you’re looking for the recipe, here’s one take.

If you can’t get Reblochon in your area, consider a Brie, Camembert, maybe a Gruyere or just improvise.

Here’s a how to video on making Tartiflette.  If you cannot view the video, here is the url:  https://youtu.be/l3uc6xRDqas

 

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www.m2mototours.com motorcycle camp

“Motorcycle Camp” European Tours

motorcycle camp euro motorcycle tour with m2 mototours

For those of you unfamiliar with our “Motorcycle Camp” series of tours, here’s a little primer to get you up to speed.

Motorcycle Camp is a week of riding in France, Switzerland or Italy.  Grenoble is the place of departure and arrival.

The underlying idea was to create a one week tour with the emphasis on riding first and foremost.  For those of you unfamiliar with Grenoble and surroundings, you don’t have to go far to find great riding.  It’s all around.  Whatever direction we take, the riding is excellent.

In creating the itineraries, we threw down the gauntlet and asked our staff, and other riders “if you had one week of riding to plan, what would you do?”  The constraints were:  as much great riding as possible, with diversity, minimal highway time, ,returning to Grenoble every other night.

After receiving the submissions, we voted on which rides were best and assembled them into the various editions of Motorcycle Camp.

A few key points about what we call “Motorcycle Camp”

  • It Lasts One Week.  We’ve tried to plan the dates so that you can use a minimum of vacation days.  The idea being you can arrive on a Saturday, start riding on Sunday and leave the following Saturday.
  • There is one edition per month from May-August.
  • Alternating Nights Out:  Every other night we’ll spend away from Grenoble.  If you bring a spouse who doesn’t want to ride every day, this could be a good option for them to visit the region, yet meet up every other evening.
  • No ‘camping’ is involved.  No tents, no sleeping bags…we’ll be spending the nights in hotels, or B&B’s.
  • We cover a variety of regions, from Alps to Provence, the Vercors, Chartreuse, Mont Blanc, some editions go to Switzerland or Italy.

So if you’re short on time, and want to pack in some great riding during your trip to Europe, sign up for an edition of Motorcycle Camp, it’ll be the best riding week you have all summer.

Click to learn more about the Motor Camp May motorcycle tour France edition.  If you’d like a more in depth, longer ride, check out this swiss motorcycle tours.

 

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M2 MotoTours MotoGP motorcycle tour

4 MotoGP Events in M2 Mototours 2017 Lineup

A recent press release:

M2 MotoTours Offering Guided European Motorcycle Tours at Four Moto GP Events in 2017

Motorcycle Tour Europe

 Summary: M2 MotoTours LLC, a motorcycle tour operator specializing in all inclusive European motorcycle tours announced that they are offering four guided motorcycle tours to Moto GP events in Europe in 2017.

Savannah, GA, United States – Today, M2 MotoTours LLC, a motorcycle tour operator specializing in all inclusive European motorcycle tours announced that they are offering four tours to Moto GP events in Europe in 2017.

 Regarding this recent announcement, M2 MotoTours Managing Partner Mike Owen said, “offering more Moto GP events in our 2017 lineup gives motorcycle racing fans the opportunity not only to see world class racing on major European circuits, but also experience the thrill of motorcycle touring in Europe.”

 Following positive reception of other tours that include motorsports events like the Formula One Grand Prix of Monte Carlo, M2 MotoTours took a chance on market testing a Moto GP event to gauge market reception.

 “Our first MotoGP tour in Austria was a resounding success, so adding more was an easy decision.  Considering there’s only one MotoGP event in the USA [April 2017 at the Circuit of the Americas],” Owen added, “that might not be very enticing for fans with limited vacation time, or for fans that have already see a race there.”

 Each tour is all inclusive, so participants don’t have to worry about renting a motorcycle, planning the itinerary, reserving hotels, or restaurants.  “The all inclusive motorcycle tour model really appeals to our clients who want to come ride in Europe, but don’t have the time or patience to deal with the minutiae and headache of planning a tour.” Owen continues, “we take care of it down to the details: we pick up clients at the airport, supply the motorcycle, guide them on tour, transport their luggage.  The hotels and restaurants are reserved & included, as well as gas and tolls.  Our clients really have peace of mind and can enjoy their touring experience to the fullest”

 The 2017 MotoGP season is comprised of 18 races, with 11 in Europe.

 The 2017 MotoGP races on M2 MotoTours’ agenda include: 

 Jerez, Spain May 7

Le Mans, France May 21

Austria, August August 13

Aragon, Spain September 24

 About M2 MotoTours LLC:

 Operating from Grenoble, in the heart of the French Alps, M2 MotoTours specializes in all-inclusive motorcycle tours.  Catering predominantly to American and English speaking motorcycle enthusiasts, M2 offers tours in France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Corsica and Sardinia.  M2 MotoTours prides itself in delivering the “ultimate riding experience” which includes a motorcycle, select itinerary, guide, choice accommodations, excellent food, wine and regional specialties.  

If you are considering southern Spain motorcycle tours, there are 2 to choose from, the first in May, the second Spain motorcycle tours is in September.

 

 

Bol d’Or (Golden Bowl) Endurance Race

The Bol d’Or 24 Hour Endurance Race

MotoGP, Superbike, Motocross, Supercross, most motorcyclists probably have seen it on TV, internet, or have read about it in a magazine.

Endurance Racing is akin to the red-headed step-child of motorcycling events.  One could argue that endurance racing should be at the top of the heap considering what’s involved.  Teams racing on a circuit for 8 to 24 hours.  Pilots have to be at the top of their game, the bikes have to perform as do the pit crews….for 8 to 24 hours.

In today’s age of channel surfing, & short attention spans, Endurance Racing doesn’t get the attention, and maybe as a result have the same draw as MotoGP.  Maybe the powers that be haven’t figured out how to sell it, or maybe there’s little room for it in a crowded space?  Whatever the case, the racing is every bit as spectacular as anything else on 2 wheels…even more so at night!  Yes, they race at night.

bdo11One event that we have the pleasure of attending in the Bol d’Or.  A 24 hour endurance race held in Southern France in September.  The Bol d’Or has established a reputation on the European continent as a must-attend event for motorcycle race enthusiasts.  Dating back to 1922 the Bol d’Or is one of a handful of endurance races.  (others can be seen in Le Mans, Suzuka, or Oschersleben) Every year thousands of riders make the journey from the U.K., Spain, Benelux and beyond for a weekend of racing and entertainment.

The Bol d’Or has a storied past.  Much of the folklore is due to the ‘enthusiastic’ fans performing impromptu stunt shows in the campgrounds surrounding the track.  Burnouts, wheelies, blown motors, and other antics contributed to building the race into a legend.

The race takes place at the Circuit Paul Ricard in the Var, near the Mediterranean coast.  The track has played host to Formula One, Le Mans and sports car race events.

What we like about the Bol d’Or?

Non-stop racing.  The race actually begins with a ‘Le Mans’ style start.  Similar to the start of the auto race of the same name, the pilots start on foot.  They have to run across the track, hop on their bike, get it started and take off.  It’s quite cool to see that the tradition has been maintained.

Then it’s off to the races for 24 hours.  That’s like seeing 10+ MotoGP races, all in one day.  Speaking of seeing, there are plenty of vantage points to explore.  A reasonably priced ticket allows you to roam around the circuit.  In 24 hours you can check out a variety of viewing points.  Very cool.

bdo8

We also like the entertainment.  Plenty of live music & stuff to see.

Stuff like merchants, builders, big & small.  All the big brands are there, BMW, Ducati, Triumph, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Aprilia.  Plus plenty of builders and parts suppliers too.  If you need to stretch your legs you can get lost among the various merchants.

bdo7

If you’re planning on attending the Bol d’Or, you can camp on-site.  Lots of riders choose to camp for the camaraderie and to see the sideshow antics.  There are a variety of reasonably priced options a little further away.  If you value a good night’s sleep, opt for staying more than 15km away.  Even at 15km you might be able to hear the bikes in the middle of the night.

Security:  The Gendarmes are out in force during the Bol d’Or.  They’ll be more than happy to pull you over for any monkey business.  Be prepared, make sure you have your papers, up to date insurance, yellow safety vest (it doesn’t need to be worn.  stowing it under the seat or in a bag is fine.) Also make sure your tires, lamps are up to snuff.  They may inspect your bike and write you up for any other infractions.  Lastly, drink responsibly if you choose to drink.  Chances are you will be tested if you get stopped.

Bike parking is secured.  You will need to show your bike registration to exit the premises.  There’s also a concierge on premises for secure helmet storage.

We’re not fans of the highway, but sometimes it can be handy.  During the Bol d’Or weekend most of the highways in proximity of the track are free to motorcyclists.  There are also a number of motorcycle friendly rest-stops along the line.  (you can search for “les relais calmos bol d’or” to find out their location)

If you’re a race fan or just an average bike enthusiast, the Bol d’Or is a rare opportunity to not only see great race action, but soak up some great ambience, and see a variety of bikes from all over.  We like meeting their owners, swapping stories over the din of motorcycle race engines.  It only comes once a year, but you will love that one day as much as we and the tens of thousands who attend.

One of the best things about the Bol d’Or is it means getting on the bikes and making a tour out of it.  Plenty of excellent riding in Southern France, so much so that it’s easy to sneak away from the racing and twist the throttle for a while.  We’ll cover that more in detail in another post.

If you want to learn more about our Bol d’Or Southern France motorcycle tours, click here.

Bol d’Or Race Action