We woke to CNN warning we would be hit by ball lightning if we ventured into the alps, we were also warned we would become slaves if we stayed in France too long. The usual stuff on the news, it's never about squirrels on roller skates.
Our original plan was to go east to catch a glimpse at the Matterhorn, then down to Mont Blanc and settle somewhere for the night around Bardoneccia for some gravel goodness but because of the clouds that contained aforementioned ball lightning we didn't think we would be able to see the Matterhorn anyway so we went directly south to Chamonix and Mont Blanc. We seemed to have dodged the worst of the weather so we could get some snaps of little waterfalls along the way
It was coming out of this yard with the waterfall that I had my first technical malfunction. I gave it a bit of gas and had Patty bouncing around in her seat and the GPS cut-out. My first thought was the terminals because I haven't soldered them yet (ran out of time prepping for the trip, will do it along the way) but then it should have switched to battery instead of cutting out completely. With the GPS out of its mount it worked fine. Off the seat comes
Tighten a loose battery bolt and job done
Still don't knwo why it cut out and didn't go to battery, at least I know for next time.
Another tea break at the bottom of a glacier just before Chamonix. We reckon the bikes could get up that ski run, and ventured over just to see if it was do-able (it is)
By this point it's all been auto-route avoid tolls and to be fair the scenery has been incredible, but it was making us backtrack in order to get to Bardoneccia. We don't do that shit, so ploughed on using a toll road (27 euro Mont Blanc tunnel
) and ended up in this beautiful valley on the Italian side of the alps. The weather was instantly warmer and cost of the toll was immediately forgotten.
Our photo's don't do it justice and look a little blurry, we're still coming to grips with the settings on our new camera. On top of every hill were keeps and castles , some in dilapidated state some still in full use.
We decided to camp the night in this valley just outside Morgex (45.76054, 7.01020)
We've been eating really well and for next to nothing in cost. We've brought two cookers with us - a whisperlite international and a trangia. I've been using the trangia for years and it's never let me down but it's too little for two people so we decided to buy the whisperlite thinking it would use the same fuel as the trangia. After a few attempts to get it going using the methylated spirits of the trangia I gave up so we've been cooking on Adam's cooker plus the trangia.
Adam making his specialty chilli con carne - see, hard panniers do have their uses
Spot the 660?
We had a late start to the day because we only had to ride 200k to Bardoneccia. That was until we came up to a gate barring the road - the pass was closed because of snow. I'd expected some would be closed because it was still early in the season. Bugger, so we decided to head for Tuscany instead
Still, the ride up was still nice and reminded me of Need for Speed
For fuel comparison purposes the Tiger was using roughly 13.5 litres to Adam's 10.8. The extra 60kg or so I was hauling would have contributed but the 660 is great on fuel economy anyway
Another wild camp another great meal, this time chick pea masala
The bike is definitely getting lighter as we travel and use our food from home. Once I can drop off the two text books I'm carrying happy days. I have two exams in Turkey 17 June
Pisa! Has to be done
This was to be our last night with Adam, who decided to go home earlier than expected so he could do Austria and maybe fit in Scotland.
On our way to Rome we went through Florence and felt like bit of a rockstar with all our adventure gear cruising the alley ways swarming with tourists. It's an incredibly beautiful city and needs to be seen, even just for a day.
Next stop - Rome! We cruised through the rolling hills of Siena with it's terracota coloured buildings, which is exactly how we pictured Italy. Down there somewhere Maximus Decimus Meridius (Gladiator) is training
We can't get enough of these castles...
And now we're in Rome
We rocked up to Rome not having a hotel booked so we went straight to the city centre to see what we could find - secure parking a necessity. I've been to Rome before so knew what to expect but riding in it with a fully laden bike two up is a different story. It was mental, and the only way to ride is to ride like they do. It wasn't until we had come up to the Colosseum that I remembered I had a GoPro! Opportunity missed, and we didn't even stop for a photo with the bike out front because there was road works going on around it.
Rough fuel prices by country so far (super unleaded 98):
France - Euro 1.63 p/l
Italy - Euro 1.698 p/l
I now know the Whisperlite doesn't work on metho (though it's good for pre-heating it) so I'm in bit of a conundrum what to do because I don't want to carry two types of fuel. I'm thinking I'll use unleaded on the whisperlite because I'll be carrying some anyway and keep using the metho on the Trangia - my trusty Trangia.
We're now in a cheap but beautiful apartment just outside Rome with CCTV security and gated compound (41.97488,12.36661)
Total spend to date 1300 miles 7 days - £420. I'll break that down later on. Western Europe was always going to be the most expensive part of the trip but