Italy: Sella Ronda - Demonic Curves in the Dolomites

Text: Christian Neuhauser • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

After two years absence from good old Europe, Christa and I are back to refresh our memories of the twisties in Austria and Italy. Great weather and an unusual heat wave welcome us when we arrive at the Munich Airport. Daniel, my brother, picks us up, and immediately he starts babbling about the tour that we've planned in the Dolomites.

Three days later, on the scene, we can barely wait to strike out. But first, the bike-rental paperwork has to be in order - signed eight places, stacked in triplicate, and stapled just so. Some thirty minutes later Christa takes her position on a Honda Hornet 600 and I on a Honda CBR 600. Daniel is ready to roam on a shiny orange Laverda 750, and it seems to us this Italian beauty is already pulling him along, almost sensing the nearby border to its home.

Will she take the advantage? Definitely! Daniel is off like a shot on the narrow, steep road of Passo di Promolo while I wait for Christa at the entrance to the first unlit tunnel, one with a 180-degree turn inside. We realize living in the U.S. has smoothed us out, calmed our riding style, and we need a day or so to kick it up a notch in speed and readjust to the new, or what used to be our old riding attitudes in Europe. Finally rejoining Daniel on top, we're forced to listen to his unprintable quips about our riding.

Back in Austria now, the downhill part goes much faster and easier. The wide, long sweeper-loaded route matches the style we've practiced the past years. A short straight stretch in the Gailtal gives us time to breathe before jumping from patch to patch on the road over the Kreuzberg, an artistic amalgam of asphalt that will test the worth of any bike's chassis and shocks, and the soundness of any rider's spinal column. Pothole City. The rice burners do a great job, but still there's no chance of competing with Daniel's super bike.

Taking a break in a comfortable seat outdoors at the Iselsberger Hof, a popular meeting place for bikers, helps to iron out the kinks in our back muscles. When our old friend Sepp, the owner, and co-founder of the Moho-Group (Motorcycle Hotels in the Alps), discovered us on his patio, he did a double-take, surprised to see us, and said with a wink, "I'm so sorry I cannot offer you guys an all-American burger. But I'm sure you'll like today's special: Wiener Schnitzel with hash browns, cranberries and a garden salad." He laughed and hugged us each in turn.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2004 back issue.