Luggi Salner has ridden a motorbike for almost 50 years. He knows Paznaun, he knows every bend, and he knows bikers. This is about a man with a big passion: two wheels.
“Let’s just say, you should always have your wits about you,” says Luggi Salner. He’s talking about riding motorbikes, his favourite form of transport for the past fifty years. He’s run Hotel Luggi in Galtür, dedicated entirely to motorcyclists, since 1981. Guests who travel with two wheels rather than four have different needs, after all, than those who come to go hiking in the summer, says the hotelier.
You believe right away that he knows what he’s talking about: his white hair is gathered in a ponytail at the back of his neck, he’s wearing a black leather waistcoat with his blue jeans. American country singer? Biker? Maybe even both? All this goes through your head when you see the hotelier with his mischievous blue eyes for the first time. “My favourite music is the sound of the engine,” Luggi Salner, whose real name is Ludwig, makes clear.
“MY FAVOURITE MUSIC IS THE SOUND OF THE ENGINE”
He’s ridden a motorbike for 50 years, a Honda Gold Wing for the past four. “You can lie in it, it’s good for the back,” he says, “but with 1800 cc, she’s got a lot of thrust, too”. She, the bike, is what it’s all about in motorcycling. And she has changed over the years. On one side, she’s got increasingly powerful. But just as with cars, it’s no longer so easy to repair her yourself. Or, as Salner puts it, “These days, you don’t have black fingers so often anymore.”
Before the man from Galtür became a motorbike hotelier who shows his guests the most beautiful routes in the Alps on trips of up to 400 kilometres a day, Luggi Salner was a forest ranger. Then he saw a business opportunity – and its pleasant side benefits, too. “When bikers are together, we go straight to the informal “du”, we get along with each other, we drive around all day long and drink a beer together in the evening,” says Salner. This is confirmed in the bar of Luggis Hotel with a collective “Cheers!”
“WHEN BIKERS ARE TOGETHER, WE GO STRAIGHT TO
THE INFORMAL “DU”, WE GET ALONG WITH EACH OTHER,
WE DRIVE AROUND ALL DAY LONG AND DRINK
A BEER TOGETHER IN THE EVENING”
The matiness, this solidarity, these are things which haven’t changed, says Luggi Salner. All around it, though, many things are different since the first time he sat on two wheels and started the engine. What was once a narrow gravel path is now a perfectly developed two-lane asphalt road. The rules are stricter, controls are more frequent. “It’s often still dangerous for bikers though, because they can’t be seen immediately when they’re overtaking, for example,” says Luggi Salner. And these days, there are many more women sitting behind the wheel themselves, rather than just sitting behind. “In motorcycling, there’s actually no difference between the sexes. There are women who ride incredibly quickly, and women who prefer to take it easy,” says Luggi Salner.
He himself rides for pleasure, too. He always wants to discover something, see something new, when riding his motorbike. Which is why “Always have your wits about you” holds true for him, too.