Originally the plan has been to discover the mediterian island of Corsica, the dream island for every biker to finally figure out by myself what parts of all the tales and stories from and about this island are true. There are rumors that the island is the best and most beautiful place for motorbikers…. Not easy to belief for a guy like me which grew up with Alps in the backyard, Black-Forrest in the front and the french Voges’ right around the corner. Not easy to believe indeed, so most highly time to either prove true or shut them all up for ever!
Because finding myself in the most priviledged situation having some more vacation-days on my account than my loved one, I decided to start the trip earlier than her. She supposed to fill up the 30 liters that belong to here in the right box of my goat and we managed to book a night-train Zurich to Genua.
The five days which I left earlier I wanted to use for discovering another corner of the Alps which I have on my „to see list" since quiet a while;
The „Seealpen" a Part of the Alps that stretches between Lac Leman in Switzerland and the touristic shores of the northern Mediterian Sea. On the loop the most western corner shall be the Grand Canyon de Verdon which I somehow managed to drive by for the last 10 yrs, several times and because of several different reasons of other priority.
As every tour, even this one starts a) at the earliest possible daytime and b) with one nicely strong coffee.
It is no secret as well, that ALL the REAL good things in life one first has to earn in sweat and pain. For the westward traveling Central European this means: Eating Autobahnmiles.
At least until the little village of Martigny one post of the northern gate to the Seealpen.
Unfortunately does "eating miles" not very clear describe traveling on Swiss Autobahn.
200mls usually take you several hours because on one hand, we have probably the best maintained roads in the whole world, but on the other hand we have simply too many cars around. Because, as everybody in the world knows, we are one of the wealthiest nations in the world, there are many many cars trying to prove this day by day. But that’s not all! The very most problem is the through-traffic! All the trucks that are bringing the goods, equipment and all kind of stuff from Europes North to its south drive through our country. The Alps naturally separate the northern part from the southern part of the continent. There indeed are very limited chances to cross this huge obstical economically so we find ourselves flooded by foreign trucks and cars all year long. Most terrible: They don’s even stop in our country to have a coffee or buy some whatever. They just haul all the potatoes from Holland down to Italy, only for cleaning and than back to Germany for packing and back to Italy again into the shops or onto markets where they will be sold as "Bio-Food".
At peak time finally, the summer vacation time, sometimes I expect the whole fuckin’ Eurasian landshelf to flip over to the south, as each and every g’damned car from the north heads southward over St. Gotthard- or St. Bernhard-Pass! One very spectacular, deeply impressive thing every year.
But, where have I been….? Ok Martigny.
Only a few miles after Martigny, the road leads up to the Grd. St. Bernhard Pass. The famous abbey on its top where the famous dogs come from. It took some hundred year of breeding and cultivating that race of dogs. Today they have the little barrel around the neck right at birth. It will be the job of the next few generations of pationated breeders to make sure the barrels contain some fair quality of booze.
If your heart is not beating faster on the way up to this pass, you might remain at fingerboarding and exchange your bike against one little piece of plastic to be wrap around the fingers instead of using your fingers to turn on the throtle.
It’s already pretty cold up here, autumn sends its first messengers announcing a long and hard winter. However; Reaching an alpine pass, even by motorbike, always makes me somehow feel like a little conquestor, explorer or discoverer. A not very common feeling these days, especially not in my age.
One almost can smell the fresh air:
Later on the way goes down to the Valle d’Aosta, takes me for a short time up this valley on an unspectacular freeway to the little town of Courmayeur. Breathtaking views on the Mt.Blanc compensat fort he last two dozen kilometers on which one shares plenty of dark, cold tunnels with overtired truckdrivers who too often try to chase their lack of sleep with a pinch of cocain or some wodka and fight some pretty spectacular position-fights on the long, boring road.
Architectural evidence that Courmayeur, here at the bottom of Europes highes Mountain, truly stands for climbing and mountaineering… (check the rope at the wall)
Ltl. St. Bernard...
....Col de l'Izoard..
...to finally check into Lanslebourg only to realize later that day, that in this one-horse town can not even be found one single sportsbar, pub or similar where a traveller can have his well deserved brew before sleeping.
I anyway will regret the decision to stay here over night as instead the place presents one unforgetable views to the several 10'000-feeters which surround it. The views are spectacular in the early morning sun:
Motorbiking (and anything else) gets quiet a bit into background in moments where one facess this breathtaking views and one realy has to resist doing a photostop each minute.
Climbing and descenting Col du Mt. Cenis I experienced on nearly empty roads and in the first sunbeams of the day. Up here, several spectacular offroad tracks meet (Giorgio might be able to report about them) and only the remaining chill of the night forces me forward yet and keeps me from stopping too many times, only to soak up the scenery in my mind, heart and soul.
In Susa it runs me westward again. All along the mainroad until Olux where I finally manage to get my daily shot of breakfast-, well, brunch-caffeine.
In Lausiers the championship most definately starts. "Col de Restefond" and right after that, the "Col de la Bonnette", the highest, legally reachabel point by motorvehicle in Europe (for common people at least)!
Among the other things a man should have done in his life (planting a tree, procreate a child, loving a woman and riding a GS) having been up here is "MUST" number 5
in each motorbikers life.
Might be because of the cold or just because of the grey, unfriendly sky, I did not enjoye my stay up there as much as I should have done. So, fast, shooting the compulsory pictures…
… and than, once again, down into an new, nameless vallye, waiting to be discovered by me.
At that point I somehow can’t reconstruct the rest of that day's trip. One thing I remember clearly enough: The leg was twisty and one endles rush of curves and winding, allmost empty roads. A never ending lovestory between a man, his bike and the scenery they're temporary part of.
I also still have the picture in mind which, at the Croix de la Mission, 10 mls before my destination Castellane, almost have been the last picture in my life ever; A blue truck, a bold driver, plenty of white around the black of his eyes…. Well, the name of the place indeed promises that it wouldn’t have been the worst place to leave the planet….