The Robb Report

Motorcycle Tours de Force

Excerpts from Showcase Magazine, June 2001

By Dan Neil

Big wheels, and the bikes they ride around the world

... But if it's heavy duty, bug in your teeth Alpine riding you care about, few companies can match Beach's Motorcycle Adventures Ltd. In the business for 30 years, Beach's based in upstate New York operates a few seasonal tours in places like New Zealand and Norway. However, the core of its business, and the furnace of its passion, is the endlessly winding, kinked, and corkscrewed asphalt of the Alps.

"Our focus is on the riding," says company president Rob Beach. "The reason we don't try to go everywhere is that we have found an area, the Alps, that is in our opinion the best riding in the world.

"Five star hotels are a dime a dozen," he adds. "There is only one Alps."

Beach's premier offering ($9,100 for two people on one bike, not including airfare) is a three week grand tour of the Alpine region, from Munich, through Interlaken and Montreux, Switzerland, around France's Lake Annecy and Italy's Lake Maggiore, then across the shoulders of Italy and Austria before returning to Munich at least 1,800 miles in the saddle, though many clients venture much farther on their own.

Sound hard core? It is. "We have always drawn our clientele from the select group of serious riders who you might associate with the European rider tradition," says Beach, who warns that some of his company's tours are not appropriate for dilettante riders. "It's impossible to describe what the Alps are about until you are there," says Beach. "It's some of the most difficult riding in the world." But also, he adds, the most rewarding.

Darrell Drummond of Gaithersburg, Md., has been on 18 motorcycle tours, the last six with Beach, who he considers the most accomplished in the business. The 78 year old humanities professor isn't slowing down. "I like to ride alone, to break away from the group on new routes," he says. "Groups are stodgy and slow. Rob Beach has no problem with that. He knows the Alps well and he tells me where the best roads are."

Forget your Harley Davidson Fat Boy. According to Beach, America's favorite Iron Horse lacks the agility to cope with the Alps' endless switchbacks. Says Beach, "I won't rent them." Beach's fleet comprises late model BMW touring bikes, including the R1150 GS and RT models and the minimalist R1100R.

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