Spaghetti Pass & A Reunion with The Swiss Girl

August 15, 2022

After a couple of days rest in Prague, we jumped on the bike Monday morning to head south for cooler weather. Yes, south to cooler climes, and climbs…the Alps. But first I had to fix our flat front tire. The bike had sat for three days, which was long enough for all the air to leak out of a tiny hole in the inner tube. I was actually thankful to find it this way rather than a sudden pressure loss on the highway.

Not exactly the way I prefer to start the day, but better here than on the side of the road somewhere.


We struggled with whether to do this day or not, due to weather forecasts. It’s been raining a lot lately in Europe, but not everywhere obviously, as many places are in a severe drought situation similar to the States. However, it seemed like everywhere we went, the rain either followed us or waited for us.

Watching the forecast, it looked like we had a possibility of one day of only afternoon showers, so we set out for the Alps on that day. We were both a bit apprehensive about doing the ride up and down the Alps in the rain due to the hopefully short-term but still lingering PTSD-type effects of our Polish crash. I was definitely more comfortable than Diana, but it’s the “least comfortable denominator” that decides a 2-up motorcycle ride.

Fortunately the rain held off long enough for us to get to the top of Stelvio Pass.

I have to admit that we climbed up this spaghetti-looking road just to take this photo. It’s cool, but it isn’t a lot of fun due to all of the traffic. As nervous as I was looking out for motorhomes and tour buses, I can only imagine how the bicyclists feel. Stelvio gives you this great photo at the top, but many of the other passes in the Alps give you a great ride and more fun with a lot less tourists.

Due to the steepness combined with the sharpness of the U-turn, these are mostly first gear turns, and it’s best to try to rotate your head 180 degrees and look behind you as you approach the apex to see if there are any large vehicles coming down, as they tend to take up all of your lane as well with the “biggest vehicle wins” attitude.

Here’s an example: the motorhome has already made the turn coming up because he can’t see what’s above him until he does. The tour bus coming down has now forced the motorhome to back up into the corner of the switchback, hoping it allows enough room for the bus to swing around the corner.

Luckily the bus was able to get by this time. Otherwise the motorhome would have had to back down around the switchback, a decidedly sketchy move, especially with motorcycles and bicycles coming up. Why they even allow motorhomes, and worse, caravans — travel trailers behind cars — on this road is beyond me.

Unfortunately, the rain started as soon as we began to descend the other side, so we tip-toed down the mountain. It only lasted thirty minutes or so, and the road soon dried out and allowed us to get to our next destination, and a reunion of sorts for me.

The Swiss Girl

On my 2015 ride from Texas to Ushuaia, Argentina, I met Judith in Guatemala. She had started in Alaska and was also riding south, on her Suzuki DR400. We rode together through most of Central America, occasionally splitting off and meeting back up again along the way. We went separate ways in Colombia, as she was headed to Santiago, Chile and had limited time.

Judith in Nicaragua, 2015.

In July of 2016 I had made it through Africa and to Europe, and stopped in Lucerne, Switzerland to see her again. She helped me arrange to ship my bike to Houston from Zurich, and we said our goodbyes, hoping to meet up again soon.

Swiss Alps, 2016.

It’s been six years, almost exactly, since we’ve seen each other or talked, except for an occasional email. Judith has gone on to organize and lead all-women motorcycle tours in Nepal, Spain, and Albania, when not hiking and skiing with Geri. It was great to see her again, meet Geri, and catch up. Hopefully we’ll cross paths again soon…sooner than another six years!

Judith and Geri invited us to their apartment in Stans, just outside Lucerne, and shared a wonderful dinner. It was great to just sit around the table, relive old experiences and talk about future travel plans. And she reminded me of one of her motivational sayings when we traveled together in 2015: “It could be worse…it could be snowing!!” So true.

The table napkins read “Home is where the Bauch does not have to be eingezogen.” A wonderful example of combining German and English: “Home is where the stomach does not have to be sucked in.”

We were enjoying our time together so much that I totally forgot to take a group photo until we were outside in the drive about to leave and Diana reminded me. So here’s the photo in the dark of Geri, Judith, me and Diana. Til next time!

2 thoughts on “Spaghetti Pass & A Reunion with The Swiss Girl

  1. I am over due to catch up on your travels and reading this entry is my start.

    Such great entries……..hope you are both well!!

    • Hey Kev! Great to hear rom you. We’re on a short break but back on the road in about 4 weeks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.