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Old 07-28-2012, 04:27 AM   #1
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Nine Countries in two weeks - Touring the Alps.

Thanks to the people who helped me out in this thread with the planning. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=794858

We didn't stick exactly to our route and things happened that I really could have done without. Some great things happened unexpectedly also. Thats why it was a great adventure!

In no particular order here are a few photos and video stills to tease until I've sorted things out.





































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Old 07-28-2012, 07:11 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by BikeLugger View Post
We didn't stick exactly to our route and things happened that I really could have done without. Some great things happened unexpectedly also. Thats why it was a great adventure!
That's why you need to have a plan. If you don't have a plan, you can't deviate from it.

Great pic of La Tremola and I see that you're a member of the "Topcase as a Picnic Table" group, also.



Looks like you had a great ride - the snow on the Grossglockner was just the icing on the cake.
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Old 07-28-2012, 07:50 AM   #3
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can't wait for this one day it'll be my turn, one day...

living in europe would be a dream
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Old 08-01-2012, 11:23 AM   #4
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cheesy, but what the hell.

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Old 10-12-2012, 03:09 PM   #5
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Shall we start again?

Ok, so it's been a while since I started this thread. I've been busy I guess.

This trip started when my better half informed me she would be spending a month in Tanzania with 30 of her students. Great, where can I go on my bike I thought. Initial plans to head north were put on the back burner when my friend Mark expressed an interest in joining me. Mark has been to the alps a few times by bike and car so I figured I'd use his knowledge and divert south.

Thats why we ended up with a rough plan to head into europe in a clockwise direction and take in some alpine roads. We'd camp to save some cash which we figured was better spent on petrol.

I'd be on my 1150 and mark would ride his 1200.

The night before consisted of all the usual decisions about what clothes to take (how many days could I go without washing them) how much sun cream would a ginger need in the alps? and it resulted in the inevitable pile of kit on the living room floor.


I'd like to remind those of you thinking I was living dangerously with kit all over the house, that Paula was a few thousand miles away in a different hemisphere. These are the minimum requirements needed if you choose to mess up the house.

Eventually I got it all to look like this. Quite a lot of kit for the back of the bike, but hey, it weighs less than Paula so I figured I'd be ok.


I dragged the kit into the kitchen, gave my bike another once over, checked the weather for tomorrow (rain..), set my alarm and went to bed.

Day One.

I woke earlier than I needed so took my time eating breakfast and loading the bike. We planned to meet at a local service station on the M6 to fuel up before the slog to Dover.

The one on the right would be fun, but I figure I'd enjoy the one on the left more.


I set off with an eye on the clouds and in full waterproofs. Wondering what memories I'd have when I next headed down these roads, how many miles will I have traveled, what sights will I have seen!
Not many as it turned out. I realised I had left the little jobby that lets me use standard 12v plugs in the BMW accessory socket. Bugger. I turned round hoping that was the only thing I'd forgotten.

Having finally made it to the service station, sussed out each others packing and with full tanks we headed off into the rain to join the masses heading south. I couldn't wait to have some dry sweeping bends under my wheels.

Motorway driving is as you all know fairly boring, the only note worthy points were me nearly heading the wrong way and Mark almost needing waders to get his bike back after lunch. He'd parked in an end space by what turned out to be a blocked drain. The downpour we saw whilst tucking into our burgers managed to turn his bike into an island. Gore tex boots are great.

Hours later and with a disturbingly numb arse we arrived at the camp near the ferry terminal. It's worth mentioning me and Mark know each other through the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. We each take different groups camping and on other adventurous activities. Because we spend so much time in tents we've learnt that the secret to a good night sleep lies in the location of your tent. When I take groups with staff who I know snore I adopt the 'pitch your tent last and as far from Dave as possible' technique. It never fails. Our desire for good night sleep saw us most nights wandering camp sites on foot searching for a good spot, before riding the bikes over.

We settled for this spot.


Tents pitched, we did a quick reconnoitre to the ferry terminal, filled the bikes once more (amazingly on the way down our two bikes had used a mere 10p difference in fuel) and headed to a local pub to have our last curry for two weeks.
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Old 02-15-2014, 01:48 PM   #6
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A quick peek out of the tent at 0600 the next morning revealed a wet dreary day.



After arrival at the ferry terminal we headed inside out of the rain. Having just approached the front of the breakfast queue we heard the call to our ferry. Breakfast would have to wait until we'd boarded.


Time on the ferry was well spent checking the weather and planning the route.


We decided to head south fast as possible as the weather looked horrible in Germany. Despite the forecast we still had a couple of nice spells which gave us the chance to get out of the waterproofs.


We were glad to get moving in the sunshine.


We hit a delay as we left the Peage when the automated machine ate my card. Thankfully a dutch couple with a caravan following helped translate over the helpline/intercom. 30 minutes later and a technician turned up to pull the machine open and dig out my card.


Turned out we were all headed to the same municipal campground.

Tents up, we settled in for the night.
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Old 02-16-2014, 05:25 AM   #7
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We would spend the morning heading south on the Peage past Bourg-en-Bresse before using the D910 south of Annecy. Our first Pass would be over the Col de la Madeleine. I didn't take many photos on my stills camera due to the weather so I've captured a few frames from my GoPro. You'll have to ignore the control bar on the bottom of each image. I'll try my best to upload a few videos so you can get a feel for the riding over there.

Another damp start to the day with a gentle rain shower wetting the tents just before we packed them away. Typical... We went for full waterproofs to play it safe, the first part of the day would be on the Peage so stopping for a sudden downpour would be too risky.


With the campsite behind us, we cut cross country to the Peage.


yay, rain...


Gradually the weather improved. Stopping for fuel, food and I also bought a local map so I could keep a record of our route.


I think I know where I'm going :)









On the D911 south of Annecy. A welcome change from the previous two days blasting down motorways.


Descending into St-Pierre-D'Albigny we had our first gentle hairpins.




Best of luck fella!


We start the climb up to the Col de la Madeleine.




A couple of slow cars are quickly despatched.


At the top we take a break, throw some more clothes on and head off for some refreshments.






We then headed to a campsite close to St-Jean-de-Maurienne where we hoped the fine weather would hold.


After we'd set the tents and were planing the evenings meal we heard the standard northern greeting of 'Ey up!' A chap from Wigan then stuck his head through the hedge and introduced himself. He was down for the Tour d France and had heard some familiar accents. He was interested in our bikes and route but said he'd never bring his Harley this far. As he was leaving in the next few days he offered us a fuel canister for our stoves, a kind offer but sadly his was a different attachment to ours so we declined. He did recommend an excellent Pizza place just round the corner so we headed off for our only evening meal out on the whole trip. The following nights we were content with whatever food we could buy and prepare on our Trangias.
Later in my tent I spent a little time marking our route on the map I'd purchased earlier before getting my head down to the sound of more rain. Boo.
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:09 AM   #8
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Gorgeous ride

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Old 02-16-2014, 08:13 AM   #9
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Day 4 started cold and damp, but no rain! Could this mean we'd managed to push through the band of patchy rain covering France??

Today would take us through Val-d'Isere over the Col du petit St Bernard into Italy where we planned to camp in the Aosta Valley just south of the Col du grand St Bernard.


The cold start covered everything with dew.


Including Marks helmet. He wedged it on this pole for the sun to dry out.


But check out the blue skies! Todays forecast was much better.


We moved the bikes into the sun whilst we loaded our kit.


Then it was a short blast to a supermarket to stock up on food for the day.


Summer cross country ski training.


Headed towards the Col de I'Iseran and Val-d'Isere





I was leading and decided to stop in the shade to snap a couple of photo's. Turns out four years ago when Mark came this way he decided the exact same thing. We were joined by a cyclist who happily took our photo.


Mark returned the favour.





We began the climb up to the Col.


Turns out to day was the day the French road crews were patching the road by sticking marbles down with treacle... those little patches did an excellent job of unsettling the bikes as they powered up the mountain.


I think you've missed a few marbles...


Fresh treacle is poured.


Some stretches were thankfully patch free and we could open the bikes up again.





At the Col.




We started our descent.


Looking down into Val-d'Isere




Lunch time before we headed through the town.



The road out of the town has lots of tunnels to play in.




Eventually we started to head up onto 'Little St Bernard'



He must have had a complex to have had such a big platform built


Or was this the St Bernard they meant??


Entering country number three, Italy!


To be continued......
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:45 AM   #10
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.....now

More snow greeted us over the Italian border. By the looks of it, this patch was here to stay so they've diverted the road around it.


It did lead to an interesting photo opportunity though, all the snow making it look like the road was closed.






Continuing down into the Aosta Vally we hit a few more road works. The roads were noticeably poorer quality on this side of the Col, but they weren't patching using treacle so we didn't mind.


What was I saying about poor quality roads? Hairpins bring grins so we don't care about the occasional potholed section


Hitting the Valley bottom the temperatures soared leading to a decidedly sweaty couple of hours to the campsite.



We filled up the bikes down in the valley before we headed up to the Grand St Bernard and our campsite. This meant passing the turn to the col before looping back after refuelling. Mark was slightly delayed pulling out of the petrol station by a line of cars so I waited for him 100m up the turn. Only to watch him sail straight past... I had to spin the bike round and get properly Italian with my riding style in order to make up the distance. Thankfully after a mile or so he recognised that he'd missed the turn so spun around just as I was catching up with him. We then set off together up out of the heat.

Glad for the refreshment as we headed up to camp.


We arrived at the camp found by my satnav and was given a quick tour by the owners daughter so we could pick our spot in the shade.

This will do nicely.



Food was some pasta with tomato and basil sauce with a few of Marks frankfurters thrown in. Not too bad.
After a shower to wash the days sweat from my body I relaxed in my tent listening to my iPod trying to drown out the dutch family next to us who for some reason chose to chatter into the early hours of the morning. I mean what ridiculous time is it any way??

oh, it's only 22:00...
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Old 02-17-2014, 04:09 AM   #11
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A quick video from Day 2.

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Old 02-17-2014, 04:28 AM   #12
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Time warp?
But great photos and report. When should I check back for the next one?
Jim
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:46 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by on2wheels52 View Post
Time warp?
But great photos and report. When should I check back for the next one?
Jim

Yeah, It's been a while. I'm planning for Norway this summer and I know if I don't do this now I'll never finish it. I've so much raw footage from the GoPro, creating this will force me to review it all.

Keep checking, I'm uploading some more videos to the tube as I type.
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Old 02-17-2014, 07:13 AM   #14
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Day 5

The campsite was quiet as I woke the following morning, just a faint rustling from Marks tent as he prepared to go for a shower.
This was our usual routine, Mark would wake first pack and shower which usually served to wake me gently so I could start to pack too. I preferred to shower in the evening, usually after Mark had climbed in his tent, leaving me with a little extra time to doze in the morning.
As he left for the shower block I packed my sleeping bag and associated guff into my panniers before climbing out and trotting off for a pee. I think it comes from usually camping in poor weather, but I never like climbing back in my tent to pack. I'd much rather open the door with my bags ready to go. When it's chucking it down you don't want to get kit soaked as you climb around.

That morning the my bike had a good throaty cough and belched smoke out over the site when I started it, as most GS owners will know, 'they all do that Sir, every now and then'… It was the only time over the trip thankfully.

With the sun shining and most of the site still snoozing we headed out.


And started to climb the Grand St Bernard Pass











Interestingly unlike Petit St Bernard earlier, Grand St Bernard doesn't feel the need to be stood on a massive column.



Having passed over the Col, we start the descent.


Past the ventilation shafts for the tunnel below.


Before we eventually joined the rest of the traffic as they exited the tunnel whizzing along unaware of the fantastic roads above.


From the Col we headed to Martigny then east to the Nufenen Pass where we would loop round and ride the Gotthard, Susten, Grimsel and Furka.
First we had to dodge the motorways leading us east. Switzerland requires every user of its motorways to purchase a vignette. At one point we thought about buying one to speed up the journey along valley bottoms, thinking we could buy them for the day… As it turns out they were in the region of £70 for the whole year only. We declined.




Keeping off the main roads meant we passed through some small towns.



My rear bulb had been working intermittently for the past two days leading to a warning light on the dash. I decided to buy a replacement whilst we refuelled at a BMW Garage.


Shortly after the garage I was tempted by a football in the middle of the road, I thought about booting it as I rode past, but had visions of it bouncing off the barrier and under my front wheel. I'm sure Mark would have laughed, but I played it safe.

More pretty little towns.





……..
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Old 02-17-2014, 07:57 AM   #15
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………

We climbed the Nufenen.




And enjoyed the descent.



Finding the Gotthard Pass was not all that easy, there seemed to be a mass of signs pointing in every direction saying Gotthard. The satnav decided this was a good moment to get confused and soon became useless. Eventually I applied my years of navigation training, found a road headed up hill and followed it.

Success! The cobbles under our wheels told us we'd found the Tremola.





Look at those wiggles!



You can see the modern route under cover.




The cobbles continue for quite a while parallel to the new route on the other side.



At the start of the Sustenpass.












A campsite was marked on the descent from the Sustenpass which we wanted to check out. We were unsure if it would be cold as there was a distinct nip to the air in the shade. However we figured we didn't mind a bit of cold overnight so decided to go for it.


We pitched the tents and settled in for the night.


Seemingly mark had a stow away clinging to his pack chair all day.


We were treated to a light show as our host tried to tempt us away from our camp stoves with the smell of fresh pizzas.




We took the opportunity to give the bikes a once over and top up the oil. Both bikes had used about 300ml, we each had about 1L of spare oil so were confident we wouldn't need anymore until we got home.
After marking the days route on the map I climbed into my sleeping bag and fell asleep to the sound of cowbells echoing around the valley.
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