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Old 09-03-2011, 07:59 PM   #1
K44rll OP
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Location: Shropshire England
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Vanvan alps adventure 2011

For the first time this year's 2011 Vanvan Alps trip finally had 5 of us in a position to have sufficient holiday to ride down to the Alps, so we left the Vans/Pickups at home and headed South to meet up for the usual Portsmouth - Le Havre 11pm ferry.
Myself and Buck travelled down from the Midlands, Nick and Paulie from London, and Trigg hopped on a ferry from the IOW and we all met at the ABar Bistro for a few drinks, decent meal and some final adjustments to the bikes including fitting a chain to Trigg's bike after being supplied the wrong one on the IOW. We were also joined by Ort Dunlo who was taking his RV200 down on his pickup as he had to return to the UK earlier than us.
A quick ride from the IOW ferry terminal, a refuel and round to the LD Lines ferry port for 10.15pm we then boarded the ferry without any waiting and the bikes were strapped down for the overnight crossing...

It was then off to our various sleeping arrangements....... This is the one the other lads could not get, due to being fully booked, but I am glad to report it was very comfortable indeed :sleep:


Next morning the ferry docked at 8am and it was down to the bikes, a reset of the trip meter and programme the Garmin towards Bardonecchia avoiding Toll roads and Motorways...

Initially we had allowed 2 days to travel accross France but, after a few stops to adjust the newly fitted "Staib recommended" screens, we found by mid-afternoon that we had covered more miles than anticipated, it was during one of our refreshment stops that perhaps Grenoble was in reach on our first day?

It was also noted that if we did reach Grenoble we would also be taking top spot on the "How long can you go?" post :twisted:
So it was heads down (behind the Givi Screens) and we finally arrived in Grenoble at 2am with a recorded 540miles on the speedo...

Day 2...

Having covered a decent distance the previous day, day 2 become a bonus ride, not only a later start but also a visit to the Grenoble Suzuki dealers and a scenic route taking in several of the Col's...
Not only one but three Vanvan's in stock...

New V-Strom...

All the Col's open for business...

Barrage de Grand Maison...

Col de la Croix de Fer...

Valloire was the next stop, no idea what the straw man was for, even the cyclist was scratching his head in confusion? ...

As Gwjak was not able to make it this year we took this shot for him...

A famous route for cyclists is the Col du Galibier, at 2645m. We were out of breath climbing up onto the stone wall, let alone riding a pushbike up there...

Nick and Trigg heading South towards Col du Lautaret...

Nick and Paulie just prior to crossing over to Italy on the Cros de Robion...

From here it was down into Bardonecchia Italy and our hotel for the next 4 days , a genuine Italian pizza, and an early night ready for the proper start of the Alps adventure...
Total mileage for today was only 140miles...

Day 3...

Today was the start of the proper Alps routes and heading South towards Briancon via Pian del Colle...

Col D'Izoard was the next stop at 2,360m, followed by Col du Vars after a quick lunch stop...

Ort Dunlo at Col du Vars...

The French/Italian Alps are littered with old forts along with military roads, these roads are usually unsurfaced and ideally suited to the Vanvan...

Trails seem to go on for ever, this one being at least 22km...

Halfway along is the 1/2km long 'Tunnel du Parpaillon' built in 1881 -

Trigg and Ort...

Paulie and Buck...

Heading west towards Crévoux...

Leaving Crévoux on a grassy trail we had our first issues of the trip, the trail I was following turned out to be blocked by an electric fence. I was then joined by Ort Dunlo who informed me that Trigg's rear carrier had broken - so back down the trail we went to try and sort out Trigg's problem.....
It was then, when I went to get out some tools from my topbox, that I discovered that I had lost my Givi keys :affraid:
So, a 15km trek back to where I had last opened the topbox while the lads sorted out Trigg's rear carrier... Luckily, just before I got to where I last used them, there they were lying on the gravel track. By this time the light was fading and we decided to make our way back up to Briancon for some food and then on to the hotel in Bardonecchia...

Total mileage for today was 159miles...

Day 4...

Bit of maintanence just after brakfast today, after Triggs rear carrier failure we had to sort out a temporary fix so he had rear indicators mounted so off we went down to Bardonecchia where we found a guy in a workshop unit that did electrical fittings, after a conversation of his broken English and me and Triggs fluent sign language he gave us (at no charge) a length of M8 all thread and lent us a hacksaw so we could cut up various lengths.....back then to the hotel and with some JB Stick we inserted the lengths of all thread into the broken carrier tube then with some more JB Stick attatched the other section to it........Job done!
As become our usual morning routine we headed down the the Agip garage in Bardo and refuelled out bikes and nick tried out the alfresco work ramp...

Less than 2km out of Bardonecchia we then made our way to one of the trails we had missed out on last year due to running out of time, the SP235 starts off as a tarmac twisty road, then into a reasonable dirt surface butdusty trail as it heads North East...

Around 13km's into the trail you then get this sign which gives you information on the seasonal restrictions...

Strada Colle del Sommeiller is also known as the Stella Alpina and is the highest rideable/drivable road in the Alps, as you can see from the sheer drops and tight hairpins, it is not your normal scenic route...

Nick and Buck looking in amazement that a small 4x4 hatchback has made it up the previous hairpins...

Certainly seems to be a popular brand when taking on something as tough as the Stella...

Our first encounter of snow this trip saw Paulie and Trigg having a snowball fight...

As well as Nick and Trigg freestyle skating...

Stuck Buck getting a helping hand...

Yours truly at the 3009m summit and also the French Italian border...

Lago Sommeiller, if you look carefully you can see Nick and Trigg to the left...

Vanvan's getting a well deserved rest...

While Buck auditions for the cover of Nuts magazine...

Being a dead end road there is nothing for it but to re-trace our route and take in the views of our previous backdrops...

Rock's the size of Vanvan's had recently fallen onto the track leaving it just about wide enough for 4x4's...

Following on from Triggs rear carrier issue it was my turn to have one of the spot welds on the nut retaining my Jap spec number plate holder fail...

Day 4 Part 2...

Returning to the Hotel we performed a quick fix on my rear number plate mount using some longer M10 bolts that the guy in the local garage kindly gave us and as it was still early evening myself, Trigg and Buck decided to attempt another trail on Mount Jafferau...

After the many haipins on the gravel track from Salbertrand it finally levels out giving a view out over towards the Lions Head...

As the picture below shows it was then NorthWest to Fort Jafferau...

This year the road had been cleared of the previous land slides and the hole bridged by armco had also been repaired...

Being just a vehicles width it was good timing that we didn't meet with this Land Rover in the darkness of the 1.5km Jafferau Tunnel...

I think Trigg once again rode the tunnel in darkness after forgeting to remove his sunglasses...

Just to the right of the waterfall in the center of the picture you can see the trail/tunnel entrance...

And this is the exit, a fine piece of engineering, 1.5km curving thru the mountain...

Exploring one of the many disused forts...

Trigg planing his escape...

While Buck stands guard...

With light fading it was then a few more snaps before making our way back down to Bardonecchia to meet up with the others for food...

Day 5...

Today was our last day in the Alps, heading East from Bardonecchia we arrived in Susa...

Heading South from Susa is the SP172 also known as the Collle delle Finestre...

Initially the road is billiard table smooth tarmac...

But after 28+ hairpins the surface turns to tree lined gravel tracks with the occasional shuttered up building along it's path...

As the track opened out from the tree's the usual sight of the summit of Finestre was obscured by cloud, as i had stopped to take pictures the only thing breaking the silence was the distant sound of Paulie and Nicks Devil exhausts...

And then as i started to enter the low cloud the hairpins also started again...

Catching up with the others at the top we took a break and admired the limited views as well as looking at the various adventure vehicles parked up...

Mentioning lunch had everybody back on their bikes for the short descent to Alpe Pintas restaurant...

Altho everyone's food was good i think Buck, Paulie and Trigg got the star prize when they ordered the spicy sausage and vegetables...

Followed by a chocolate and plum desert...

With the riders refueled we continued south on the SP172 via Forte Serre Marie...

Excuse the quality but this fort was way in the distance...

Remote village with only a single track dirt access road...

And yet more hairpins...

Finally at the end of the Finestre and time to find fuel for the bikes...

Discussing the route while refueling it was decided not to go over the Assietta as the cloud was low, so where else could we go while in Italy...

Our destination in Torino was the old Fiat HQ...

which has now been converted into a shopping complex and Hotel but still retains the roof top test track as seen in the Italian Job, unfortunately what we didn't know was that you could only have access to the rooftop if you were a hotel resident....but that didn't stop us, this is the spiral ramp up to the rooftop...

High speed banking...


It was then a fight with the traffic in Torino and a ride back as the light fell to Bardonecchia and our last night in Italy before the 2 day ride back to Le-Havre and the return ferry...

Suzuki DL650A V-Strom Touring K7... Suzuki Burgman 400 K9...Suzuki Vanvan RV200 K8...Suzuki Djebel 250XC...Suzuki StreetMagic TR50S...Suzuki Choi Nori...

K44rll screwed with this post 09-04-2011 at 03:55 AM
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Old 09-04-2011, 11:02 AM   #2
RaY YreKa
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Great stuff
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shine on, you crazy emo diamond
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Old 09-05-2011, 01:34 AM   #3
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Great trip, no doubt. The Van Vans are amazing. Thanks for the Mapsource pics, they are very helpful.
My trips:
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Old 09-05-2011, 04:16 AM   #4
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I'll be in that area in ten days, better check my maps for where you were.
Great rr.
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Austria '08
Back to the Alps in '11
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Old 09-08-2011, 01:32 PM   #5
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Oddometer: 1,052 crazy adventure, respect to you all
So many roads...........So little time..!!!

2005 BMW R1150GS Adv - Black
2005 BMW R1150GS Adv - Silver
2007 BMW G650 XCountry - Black
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Old 10-03-2011, 02:17 PM   #6
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Really enjoyed the report and pics thanks. I did the Stella this year so recognise a lot of the locations.

What camera set up have you been using?
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Old 10-03-2011, 02:33 PM   #7
K44rll OP
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Originally Posted by ChubbyThumper View Post
What camera set up have you been using?
Thanks for the compliments, glad you enjoyed them

Camera used is a Canon Ixus100IS, really good little camera

Some more Sommelier and Alps pictures here....

Suzuki DL650A V-Strom Touring K7... Suzuki Burgman 400 K9...Suzuki Vanvan RV200 K8...Suzuki Djebel 250XC...Suzuki StreetMagic TR50S...Suzuki Choi Nori...
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:08 AM   #8
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great report - enjoyed the photos
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:48 AM   #9
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Very good, I enjoyed that.
2001 - R1150GS

From Sea to Shining Sea. A four week US coast to coast ride in June/July 2010.

Don't speak unless you can improve on the silence.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:03 AM   #10
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Mount Jafferau

Hi, was on many of roads you rode last summer and went mainly for the dirt trails but failed to find the start of the track for Mount Jafferau. i will be back in the Alps next summer can you please tell me where to access this track.
your photos are excellent and brought back great memories, i put rocks in front of the hole in the small bridge to try and warn others. Andy
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Old 10-04-2011, 02:34 PM   #11
K44rll OP
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Heading east from Bardonecchia towards Susa on the SS24 just after Salbertrand there are two decent hairpins then you take this exit for Jafferau....

This map altho basic helps with which roads are legal for off roading and also if they have seasonal restrictions...

Suzuki DL650A V-Strom Touring K7... Suzuki Burgman 400 K9...Suzuki Vanvan RV200 K8...Suzuki Djebel 250XC...Suzuki StreetMagic TR50S...Suzuki Choi Nori...
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:38 AM   #12
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Hi Karl, thanks for the directions, much appreciated. Andy
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Old 10-05-2011, 08:29 PM   #13
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Nice Bikes

Can you tell us a bit about the bikes. I don't think we have this model in the U.S.A. Is the 125cc displacement enough? Would it be better as a 250cc?
How did they handle on the mountain roads....going down or going up, were you constantly passed by others or could you keep up with the speed limit ?
Tim in Columbus, OH
2007 Suzuki DR-650 'the Valdez' (9 gal safari)
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Old 11-24-2011, 05:04 AM   #14
Farmer Palmer
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A mans got to Van, Van when a mans got to Van, Van....!

Excellent trip report.......!

After riding big lardy 'kick ass' GSA's with all the kit for years I must admit i'm finding these great 'wee' bikes more and more appealling in these frugal times.

I've been looking at them for a while and maybe it's time to take the plunge, only problem is i'm 6' 4'' and 16 stone.....Then again i'd get more time to enjoy the scenery!

13 G650GS Sertao, 11 G650GS/FL, 10 R1200GSA30 Desierto 3
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Old 11-24-2011, 06:20 AM   #15
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Yet another great adventure Karl. topped only by the quality of the report. Thanks for taking the time to post this. more inspiration and ideas for me for next year.

Cheers, Dave
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