A Heavenly Hell Ride
Timmelsjoch Pass and Top Mountain Crosspoint
Alban Scheiber gives it all, speeding up the winding road on his heavy motorbike. Always close to the precipice of the Timmelsjochs pass. The roaring sounds are echoing throughout the upper valley. Adrenalin kicks in a row, providing this very special peak experience. It’s like flying. Alban can feels if his passenger is afraid or not. But I am not a fraidy cat: full speed ahead – is the slogan!
From Rome to Hamburg
Alban picked up a group of Harley Davidson riders in South Tyrol’s Val Passiria: Chinese bikers on their way from Rome to the “Hamburg Harley Days”.
He wants to show them the new Motorcycle Museum that he installed together with his twin brother Attila on the Top Mountain Crosspoint at 2175 m altitude, in the foothills of Timmelsjoch pass – one of the most renowned Alpine routes for passionate bikers.
Chinese motorcyclists and North Germany’s Breitenfelde Chapter Club on their way to the Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum.
© Dagmar Gehm
Giacomo Agostini and his winning motorbike, a red MV Agusta 500.
© Dagmar Gehm
A legendary racer’s object on loan
The 49-year old twin brothers Alban and Attila opened Europe’s highest Motorcycle Museum in April. No less than Giacomo Agostini was their special guest, he won 15 World Champion titles.
What’s best, the smart Italian racing star left his winning bike on loan at the museum – a red MV Agusta 500.
Flashing Chrome, Shining Leather
The legendary bike model can be found next to countless other highlights of the racing history on a total area of 3000 m². Until now, the Scheiber Family have collected incredible 230 exhibition pieces, reconstructed and polished with love to the detail.
When Alban and Attila were only six years old, they received their first mini-bike from their father. And they are still convinced that every motorcycle has a soul! Some 80 percent of the motorbikes on display are ready for use. The museum that comprises also sidecars, scooters and carriages gives a splendid insight into 100 years of motorcycling history.
Alban and Attila Scheiber on an Indian Chief motorbike.
© Dagmar Gehm
“We are modern highwayman”
The brothers are very proud of their new object that hosts the multi-functional Top Mountain Crosspoint opened in November 2015:
The entire building focuses on four different sections, including the museum, the toll station of the Timmelsjoch High Alpine Pass Road, a modern restaurant with table service featuring suspended motorcycles, and the base station of the new Kirchenkar 10-person mountain gondola at 2629 m – the fifth access point for skiers within the Hochgurgl-Obergurgl ski region. The slightly curved complex, designed by the Tirolean architect Michael Brötz, resembles a huge snow cornice.
60 Switchbacks Are A Quite Sporty Challenge
Motorbike fans from around the globe travel along the Timmelsjoch High Alpine Pass Road in summer. Most of them stop at the Top Mountain Crosspoint. The panorama road leads on 43 kilometers from Obergurgl (1907 m) up to Timmelsjoch or Passo Rombo (in Italian) at 2509 meters above sea level, then switchbacks down to Italy’s St. Leonhard (693 m) in Passeiertal.
About 60 turns take you across the mighty Ötztal Alps, embedded in numerous 3000-meter high peaks, from Tirol/Austria to South Tyrol/Italy – or the other way round. Always a sporty challenge for motorcyclists, mountain bikers, art lovers or fans of architectural attractions.
Top Mountain Crosspoint amidst the picture-book Alpine landscape.
© Alexander Lohmann/Bergbahnen Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
Smugglers Between Art and Cart
“Don’t go away, I augur ill,” says the smuggler’s wife according to the legend. One of the real smugglers is 83-year old Michael Etschmann – senior boss of Gasthof Schönau. As a young boy he smuggled saccharin, butter and cigarettes for his family. It was a matter of survival. Fortunately they never caught him in the border area between Obergurgl, the pass and his home farm. His famous inn, run by son Stefan, is renowned for the best smoked “Speck” (bacon) far and wide.
Alban Scheiber in front the picture of his grandfather Angelus Scheiber.
© Dagmar Gehm
2018: Timmelsjoch’s 50th anniversary
We take a short break at the Pass Museum. Alban Scheiber shows us the larger than life-sized photograph of his grandfather Angelus Scheiber, one of Ötztal’s first pioneers in tourism: same look, same posture, same entrepreneurial spirit. Just like his twin brother Attila.
Another Alban Scheiber, the father of the twins, was cast in the same mold – he was a racer and hotel owner himself, following the successful ideas of his own father. In the 1950ies, Angelus was convinced about the idea to build a cross-border road towards South Tyrol as there was an already existing military road since WW I.
The Pass Road was built in only 17 months but officially opened as a north-south traffic route not until 1968. Therefore the Timmelsjoch High Alpine Pass Road will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2018.
Before the anniversary I will return to Obergurgl. Maybe next winter I make another hell ride on skis down the Kirchenkar slope together with Attila Scheiber – who was my ski instructor once. Up to Timmelsjoch on a motorbike with Alban, down to Timmelsjoch with Attila on fresh powder snow. Obergurgl makes a great place if you are in search of the ultimate thrill all year round!
Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum Details
Admission: 10 Euro pp, group discounts, reductions for Ötztal Card/Ötztal Premium Card/skipass holders
Open: daily 9 am – 7 pm until 24 April (end of season); open again approx. from May as soon as the Timmelsjoch is open.
Photos: Alexander Lohmann (5), Dagmar Gehm (7), Zhengrong Liu (1)
Guest author Dagmar Gehm © Zhengrong Liu
Journalist from Hamburg and sporty globetrotter with a passion for the Ötztal and its manifold contrasts:
- Action – isolation
- Thrill of speed – peace and relaxation
- Ancient rituals – on the pulse of time
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