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Old 01-08-2008, 05:00 AM   #1
MarkN OP
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Les Marmottes Rally 08 - St. Veran France

Our friend Aurel first did this rally last year and then last week asked any of us in Europe if we'd like to attend this year's event.

After a couple of Vodka and Tonics last Tuesday I thought "sod it, let's go" and got on the internet and booked a ferry to take me from Portsmouth to St. Malo in France. I had packed everything on the bike, bought a winter sleeping bag and set off.

The "Les Marmottes" rally is a meeting of like minding people at St. Veran in the French Alps, it's position at 2500mtrs above sea level make it the highest inhabited village in France and the perfect place for a camping weekend in January

Portsmouth is a large Royal Navy base as well as a general port and we were lucky enough to see a few ships moored up.

This was HMS Ark Royal, one of our fleets aircraft carriers and a Type 42 Destroyer, HMS York.


My plan was to arrive in France on Thursday morning after an overnight crossing and then ride until I was too cold/too tired or it started to get dark. This first day took me the best park of 700kms SE into France and my first stop at Clermont Ferrand. The nice thing about France is that you can always find a room in a hotel and I chose the Ibis hotel for my first night - mainly because it was a name I recognised and it was in my sat nav.
This was the view over Clermont

The Ibis hotel

The results of my first days ride
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:04 AM   #2
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Nice!! Anything in France is NICE!!

Didn't you have a 950?


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Old 01-08-2008, 05:27 AM   #3
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hello dear mark!! how was your ride to return at your home? it was a real pleasure to meet you at saint veran.. i'm waiting for your ride report..

see you
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:31 AM   #4
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A 12 hour-day in France in January on a thumper

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Old 01-08-2008, 05:43 AM   #5
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My next day was a planned ride to Gap and a rendezvous with Aurel and a few friends I hadn't met yet at the Formula 1 hotel.
The road to Gap was stunning and varied.



I then had to ride over a pass which had only been recently dumped on by a load snow, the road was very slushy and slippery to ride on, sadly I don't have any pictures of this as I was concentrating on staying upright on the bike. I did get a couple of pics on the way down though.



After another 400kms I made it to Gap at about 4pm and found I was the first one to show up.

But then others started to show up and the bikes were all parked together.

We met up, had a meal and bought a few things at a local supermarket, and then arranged to leave at 9am the next morning.
There was going to be 7 of us making the 90km ride to St. Veran.

The road to the top of the mountain was fairly clear and not too icy. We finally made it without any mishaps.

There were lots of bikes already there and a lot more joined us during the day.

Lots of sidecar outfits

This French outfit is called a Zeus and is fitted with a 2Ltr engine

Of course, there was lots of orange in view

The views were just as good to look at as the bikes



The GPS tells me there is still some way to go to the top of the mountain

Aurel then decides to add a bit of bling to his new 990 and attaches his snow chains

We were eager to see if they would work or if the walkers would get roosted





He needed a push though as the snow was quite deep

While waiting for Aurel, the snow king, it was a chance to look at the breath taking scenery, or was it the altitude that kept taking my breath?



Others were keen to try their snow chains too

It was then time to find the camp site and pitch the tents.

This was my Alpine apartment for the night. It's a one man LaserLite tent, very quick to erect as it's only one pole and 6 pegs.


Inside it felt quite homely!

It was then time for some lunch and a hot drink

We then had a look around some of the other bikes, this guy deserves respect for coming on a 125

There was novel ways of keeping hands warm too

Thankfully, there was a hotel on site and it opened it's doors to everyone that wanted a place to sit and drink and dry their kit.
Aurel decided to add his own touch of Alpine fragrance



Just before dinner there was a chance to sit around the camp fire, share a story and a few glasses of wine - well when in France
Aurel and Pierre



It was then dinner time and a chance for everyone to sit down together and share a meal.

The food was a local dish of potatoes, various meats, bread and cheese that was melted under burners and cut onto your food.







Our host, Pierre, then announced it was time for a raffle, for which we had been given tickets on our arrival in the morning. This was quite funny as I don't speak very much French and I was trying to listen out for my number
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:55 AM   #6
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Anyway, during dinner it had started to snow and when we got outside we found that it was quite a bit!

The next thing was to find my tent - remember it looked like this when I left it

Ah! Found it!

It kept snowing during the night and in the morning it was half way up my tent door!



There was lots of confused bikers in the morning trying to find which pile of snow was their bike!

Oh, why doesn't Mr Renazco make a heated suede seat

Thankfully the local authorities are superb in France and they had been out blowing the snow from the road to give us a clear run down the mountain. It was still slushy in places but we made it with no one coming off.

My biggest problem was then trying to get out of the Alps. I tried to take the direct route over the pass between Briancon and Grenoble to find the road impassible due to the snow fall. I then doubled back and headed for Valence via the way I had come on Friday. I made it to Lyon for my over night stop and then on Monday I had a huge ride of 800km back to Caen and my overnight ferry back to Portsmouth.

This was my GPS readout when I made it home.


The whole trip had been one big adventure for me and it was great to meet up with a few guys that we talk with on here. Their hospitality and friendship will stay with me for a long time
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pierreKTM
hello dear mark!! how was your ride to return at your home? it was a real pleasure to meet you at saint veran.. i'm waiting for your ride report..

see you
Hi Pierre,

It was great to meet you guys too. I had a nightmare on Sunday trying to find a way over the Alps because of the snow. Every road seemed to be shut

Hope you had a safe ride home

See you again I hope.

Thanks for a great weekend.

Mark
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Old 01-08-2008, 07:08 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by MarkN
that is so french. i love it.
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Old 01-08-2008, 07:29 AM   #9
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the return was a little bit complicated. Cedric had a problem with his XT600, and we spend 5 hours to fix it.. .. so we go home by highway... boring..
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Old 01-08-2008, 07:31 AM   #10
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Excellent report and pics,

St Veran, in the Queyras valley, is just few kms from Italy through a pass opened from Spring to Autumn, fantastic landscapes.

It's also a small/midsize sunny ski station shared with Moulines the village below, not very steep but very cool for starters and families.

The place is also good for nordic ski and in the valley there are some tracks for sledge dogs.

Your cheese/potatoes/ham dish is called raclette, good when it's cold outside.

Thank you for remind me such nice place.

Brice
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Old 01-08-2008, 07:52 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by MarkN

Good to see you guys! Hope you made your way home safe and found a hot tub waiting for you.

Thanks for sharing!

Cheers
Dirk
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Old 01-08-2008, 08:24 AM   #12
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hey dirk,

nice to read you. I see your little video of your tunisian trip.. i'm jalous!!
i hope to see you asap to drink some wine and to talk about motorbike trip ..
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Old 01-08-2008, 08:50 AM   #13
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Thumb



Am I dreaming or was it not the same last year ?

Mark, Excellent report !
/thierry
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Old 01-08-2008, 09:20 AM   #14
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Laugh




Looks like someone had some fun with the chicks ?
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Old 01-08-2008, 10:21 AM   #15
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Mark

Brilliant!

Mnd you I was thinking of going next year until I saw that picture of your tent.......

cheers

Markie
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