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Old 11-11-2013, 12:44 PM   #76
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The glass was THAT full?? Really??? You're shittin' me!!







What an awesome little crossing!! Views are stumping!







I SAID: DON'T come closer, buster!! Which part you don't get??








Oh boy…now Doug's starting off with the flu! Not that it slows him down, he just can't see what country he's in…


















Getting weak-kneed at the sight of it….












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Old 11-11-2013, 12:45 PM   #77
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It's into Sembrancher and back to the main drag for a few k's west to Bovernier, a small place squeezed between the main road, which is the northern end of the Great St. Bernard Pass into the Aosta Valley in Italy, and the steep mountainside which harbor an absolute gem of a road along the Gorges du Durnand to Champex.

The road drops via a 6 pack of long switchbacks to Orsieres on the Great St. Bernard again.


The climb from Bovernier is STEEP and TIGHT…way more technical and physically demanding than what Google and the Michelin-maps promise. The rise and fall of the exhaust-noise of a half-dozen bikes climbing up the hillside is something else.






The road flattens out, the valley widens a little towards the Vallee D'Entremont and Val Ferret junction...and there's the pretty, little gem of Champex.
















Dave checking the catch…and our Tasmanian knows about trout, which makes him an instant family-member up here. Never shy, our Dave







What a pretty place…







…and with a pace at 3 gears down it's easy to see why the local coach driver waves us through time and again…then gives us toots and thumbs-up when going past while we keep the cameras smoking.

Into Orsieres…





…before the run up the Great St. Bernard aka Col de Grand St.Bernard aka Colle delle Gran San Bernardo, pick whatever lingo you fancy (I love the Italian version, it just rollllls of the tongue… and one can throw in 10pounds of body-language to just wrap it all into the name.)







The last few k's to the top get a bit more interesting, both in landscape and road.





















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Old 11-11-2013, 12:46 PM   #78
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Oh YESSS!!, It sure is the day for it, don't want to be here when the weather's crap.












Good, old St. Bernard is telling us where to go…


















....while those 2 have finally "tied the knot" and are sailing for some happy times.
Man, that vino last night packed one hell of a punch, it's still working now!
























St. Bernard Express…I thought that was us??







Time to drop into bella Italia for a bit…














How do they bend those split logs to make it all fit so neatly?



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Old 11-11-2013, 12:49 PM   #79
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Not short on colour…nor interesting bits!




















Despite the close-to-lunchtime timeslot, traffic is sparse on the Aosta bypass through Arpuilles and Ville-sur-Sarre, the reason to take the quicker main-road to Courmayeur.

Morgex is the jump-off up the little Colle San Carlo.







Peace, no traffic and all happy for getting busy on the tiller again, the small, narrow road winds its way parallel to the Little St. Bernard Pass road, joining in the rather plasticky ski-resort of La Thuile near the top.





Good spot for a break and the sandwiches at La Genzianella are worth hitting the anchors for. They even have a basket of dry bread for Dave…he'll be back one day just for that.







Oi, Doug!! Mate, we're in Italy!
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Old 11-11-2013, 08:57 PM   #80
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Nice to see that FIAT is still making the tiny Panda 4x4, the old shoe-box version of the '90s turned into an icon and partially replaced the Piaggio APE
three-wheel pickup for all those super-tight and hard-to-reach places.
Cute!





There goes that sandwich….
A pity really to see those slowly disappearing in favour of the "universal" dunny pan. Vive la difference, yeah!





The last few bends of the Colle San Carlo into La Thuile…





…. the last settlement before the French border and the loooong drop into Bourg St. Maurice.










Another Saint telling us where to go, there's gotta be a nest around here…








The Little St. Bernard…Colle del Piccolo San Bernardo just doesn't roll off the tongue like it's bigger brother up north.









Trying to process the endless king-wave of new impressions…or just last night's Red?









Even the walking tracks are choked with hairpins.


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Old 11-11-2013, 08:59 PM   #81
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La Rosiere shows that the 1970s/'80s of lego-style ski-resorts are over and things can be done in a rather traditional Alpine style of rock+timbers…even if the actual structure is all slap-bang concrete underneath.












Dave wants to trade the 800GS...perhaps not a bad idea, slowing him down with a Diesel might give some of us a chance to keep up.










We barely touch the outskirts of Bourg St. Maurice, entering and leaving at the northern end of town, up the Cormet de Roselend.







It's narrow and some of the bends are quite steep…and showing the scars for it.
A common sight on many alpine roads. The morte backroady, the more and deeper scars and gouges.









Things grow wider and flatter towards the top, then the drop towards the dam (barrage de Roselend) turns picturesque again, the road like a racetrack now.






Twist it to the pin and…CRANK IIIT!!





The road tucks underneath that nose of rock,










then drops into the shadows… downhill into Beaufort.
Memories of Tornanti_1 in 2007 come rushing in…a late morning sitting in the warm sunshine at the bakery, laughing and bantering with the locals, soaking up life like a dry sponge.
Good times…just like now.

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Old 11-11-2013, 09:00 PM   #82
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A few more easy bends up into Les Saisies, knowing there'll be a bed for us after an earlier call while munching those sandwiches at La Genzianella.
Le Very turns out a typical ski-lodge, now open through the summers for the hordes of mountain bikers and "shredders", the downhill-suicidals.












An 80-space subterranean garage for our lousy half-dozen bikes indicates the goings-on in winter….while the 1square-meter bathroom makes do with half a showerscreen and even that one is a fold-away to get onto the wash basin.
Flooding that broom-cupboard within the first 10 seconds of having a shower is a given, providing a footbath for your room-mate in the bedroom is a bonus.






Notes versus maps…15months of homework paying off.






CHEERS!!







Happy Dave…there's enough bread around for about, what….5 minutes?









Great tucker, a bottle of good, local Savoie, plenty of yarns and laughs and a head full of a thousand new pictures and impressions waiting to gush out…what more could one want?











What else but something dark-haired, French, smiling and bubbling away…and stunning looks!!
She could sell ice to Eskimos, wanna bet?






Where there's a will, there's a way!







Perhaps the Banana-split WAS a bit much…time for a quick loop of the village.







Fingers crossed for tomorrow, another sparkler of a day would be brilliant.
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Old 11-13-2013, 02:26 PM   #83
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There's a slight haze but things are looking damn fine for a 6.30 morning in Les Saisies…






As usual, the breakfast in the small restaurant next door is a lavish affair and requires some diligence to cram in at least a bit of everything on offer.

The BM's must've re-shuffled themselves to make room for that pushie.





Bienvenue aux Saisies?? Sounds good to me…one day, perhaps.






Even the main roads are sweet this time of day.







At least for a few k's to the sharp-angled turn-off signed to Hauteluce for a run up to the tiny Col de Joly. The disappointment of finding the climb up the gentle, deep-green slopes to be tar instead of gravel is quickly made up for by the narrow-lane twisties and some magnificent views, the air filled with the music of dozens of bells of scattering goats and cows…Oh, it's pretty up here!!







Barrage de la Girotte, part of France's hydro-power network.








Silent visitor






It's a dead end for us… there's supposed to be a rough dirt road going down to Les Contamines, but at too high a risk for our hire-bikes. It also would point north again, not our chosen direction of travel.







Back down to the last turn-off then, I've seen a sign there pointing to a small road running along the other side of the valley.



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Old 11-13-2013, 02:29 PM   #84
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The hamlet of Annuit with the balloon right above the church spire.






Chateau Beaufort? Not sure…but it's sitting in the triangle of D70/ D218 + D925 on a small hill above the town.










The day in map-letters:
B = Col de Joly
C = Beaufort
D+E = Barrage de Roselend and the start of the micro-Pass Col du Pre, another gem!!
F-H = Cormet d'Areches
I-J = Col de la Madeleine, nice!!
J-K = stumping gravel track from top of Madeleine to Bonvillard
K=L = Col de Chaussy
L= Les lacets de Montvernier… THE famous Montvernier Serpentines


All up….180something k's top-to-bottom and a FULL DAY of riding and gawking….and droolin' on yer boots!
One of the PRIME-DAYS of the trip!






Ohhhh, the Montvernier road?




(had to pinch a pic from the net as it's only visible in its entirety from some walking track from the opposite side of the main valley, the pic location is
http://calamonique.com/wp-content/up...ontvernier.jpg )

Looks like the shot was taken in winter, as views were hidden a lot more by the lush greenery between the runs to the hairpins.









This one "later in the program"….but…AWESOME, innit?? The Real McCoy leaves you speechless!




Barrage de Roselend, a few twisties above Beaufort…WOWW!!





















Grande….just GRANDE! Can't get enough of this!






"This is all a dream, mate…" (Dave)



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Old 11-13-2013, 02:30 PM   #85
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The western side of the tiny Col du Pre leaves you speechless…AGAIN!










And once we're down in the valley, that's the next one to climb!







Tim…enjoying every meter of it.











Shingle roof on an old house.






The seal of the winding and forever climbing single-laner stops at the Barrage de St. Guerin, another hydro-power dam.







Mobile 4-bay milking station…during summer the cows stay on the high paddocks, the milk cans get picked up or dropped off, the tanker-trailer is water for the clean-up. Generator and solar-panels do the rest. Pretty nifty setup, that!
And some pretty ripe smells coming across, too.







Start of the Cormet d'Areches climb into the saddle.










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Old 11-13-2013, 02:31 PM   #86
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Stumping vistas…


























Dave making new friends in a hurry. Or perhaps they've got a stash of bread in their panniers?








Even more versatile…the 8-bay trailer version. Just pull this one to the next paddock and start again. I'm fascinated by those things.







While the drop into Granier is a little shorter, the vistas are just as heart-melting.







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Old 11-13-2013, 02:33 PM   #87
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Built into the slopes for snow-cover in winter….

























Granier Council chambers …and…school??
No Aussie mayor would put up with a pack of screaming brats in the same abode, that's for sure! No probs here, by the looks of it. Bloody sissies!



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Old 11-13-2013, 02:34 PM   #88
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No quibbles about a lack of choice on the pizza menu in Aime, back on the N90main road. Looks like the right spot for lunch, and the pizzas are as promised on the board…pretty good.







Doc Emmett Brown from "Back to the Future" drops in for a Mexicaine and free Coke
in the DeLorean (no idea if there's one of those in Oz…loved those movies)














Moutiers has a nice, little bypass to avoid entering the toll-AutoRoute, but signage comes at the last second and is pretty sparse when following through. Hang your honker in the wind and keep looking at where the road should go…it DOES, eventually…It's the old road to Feissons before the tack south again into the first set of hairpins up the Col de la Madeleine.

By Bonneval we know we're on the right track and it's a slow, wide-eyed tootle up the side of the mountain and above the dark gorge below.
Exiting Bonneval…see any town name with a red slash through it and it's "end of all restrictions previously signed". It's the sort of 'go for it" trigger. It's simple, I like!







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Old 11-13-2013, 11:26 PM   #89
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Avalanche warning light….hmmmm, never seen one in Oz







Giving it the AT-medal…we all love "the Madeleine"






Tour de France leftovers.






"Mate, there should be gravel-track on the left just as we drop into the righthand hairpin…THAT'S the one we're looking for!!"






Found it…just south of the top of the Madeleine.
Hitting the gravel above the ski-resorts turns out to be a "chest of loot" which set us up perfectly for an "appreciation-tootle" down some spectacular dirt and tar tracks through the rest of the afternoon.

Cheese straight off the farm, honesty boxes, knock-ya-flat-vistas, stopping every 20yards for another pic, climbing off the bike, gazing……the soul going walkabouts. Come along for an exceptional afternoon that goes way beyond skin-deep.


























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Old 11-13-2013, 11:28 PM   #90
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Oiiii! Snatch that pooch, Dave's coming!!








Chapelle St. Marguerite



















Picturesque...Lac du Loup














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