It was 28F this morning as the nineteen bikes rode from the hotel to Meiming’s town square. Three guides from GlobeBusters and seventeen guests from Austria, England, Germany, Italy and the US. One German couple is riding two-up. Lots of people greeted us as we went into town and lined the bikes up. Werner Wachter, who with his wife Coral, founded Edelweiss Bike Travel 30 years ago spoke first, and introduced the riders by country and played their national anthem. Following was the mayor and a man representing SOS Children’s Villages. Our group is a sponsor of SOS and we will be visiting a village on each of the segments. We waved to the crowd and rode 78 miles to the Harley Cafe in Feldkirch for coffee.
Multi-lane controlled access highways in the US are called freeways. Occasionally some states charge tolls on ones between or around major cities. In Austria and Switzerland you must buy “vignette” and place a sticker on your windshield to use the autobahns. We bought our Swiss access at a station next to the cafe for 31.50 Euro per bike!
The Arlberg Tunnel, 14 km long, was the longest tunnel in the world when it was built in 1978. Inside it was the nicest weather of the day at 56F. Altitude of the road is at 4,000 ft and the temperature was in the mid to high 30s.
In May we met two gentlemen named Peter from Lachen, Switzerland who will be joining us on later segments. Since our route went right by Lachen, they invited the group for lunch. We had the GPS coordinates, but couldn’t find their house. As we were at an intersection trying to figure how to proceed, a car full of locals pulled up and said the the rest of the bikes had gone straight down the road and off we went. We found the group, they were lost also. A phone call later and the leader went right to the house. The Peters and their wives served a sumptuous meal of soup, salad, bread and pastries.
Afterwards we rode sixty more miles of autobahn and then into the hills. Beautiful narrow switchback roads the crawled up and down the Swiss hillsides and through little villages. This lead us to our hotel in the village of Twann just before dark.
We saw other motorcyclists on the roads today and the tradition of waving is strong in Austria and Switzerland. From the subtle clutch finger lift to the enthusiastic arm waves of a six year-old to his favorite grand parent.
Tomorrow we head south to Arles France and much warmer weather, or so our leaders claim!
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