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Old 10-27-2013, 05:00 PM   #1
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Hardalpitour...The Day(s) After...Military Streets, Forts And Loads Of Dirt Miles...

…what else would you call the days that follow a 24 hour nonstop off road ride up and down the Alps peaks ????



Nevertheless, the desire of keep riding the West Italian Alps was too strong to stop us from riding . I arranged for my friend Jeff of Colwyn Bay Motorcycles in North Wales to join David and I in Cesana Torinese and ride for few days around this area. My friend and partner of www.over2000riders.com Corrado has offered to take us around Val di Susa for few days. This is not only one of the most beautiful areas on the entire Alps, but it still has a huge number of trails open to light traffic. A sort of motorcyclists’s paradise. It was also the perfect location to test Jeff’s new KTM1190R which was upgraded with all sort of accessories available from the KTM Powerparts catalogue…because ultimately there must be some advantage to own an established KTM dealer !







It was just 30 minutes since I fell asleep after having been awake for 34 consecutive hours, and, 602km of the Hardalpitour, when my phone rang: “ok Nic? I have arrived, I am in the hall”. It was Jeff! Fxxk! “Hi Jeff, welcome!”; “Are you ok Nic? Were you sleeping?; “Not at all Jeff, I will be down in two minutes!”.
I can’t recall much of conversation that followed our greetings, I would imagine I wasn't to bright and active but rather absent like someone after an overdose of some nasty drugs. It took me few espressos and a couple of hours to get orientated to time and space.
Dinner time came and slowly slowly the other Hardalpitour survivours started to turn up…
The dinner was very nice. Apart for Corrado, the rest of us were all coming from far away for the Hardalpitour. Two Irish teams (Pog mo thoin, Team HP2 Ireland), a British “pilots”-team (Team Vortex), a British (in Swiss) “pilots assistant”-team (Touring Twats) and the Irish, British and Italian team (push the moto).
It was a mixture of good food, nice wine/beer, tiredness and an overall feeling of happiness and great satisfaction of having completed the Hardalpitour just few hours earlier, which made that dinner an extraordinarily pleasant time !



When some of the Irish lads(Jim, Willie, Jim, Phil and Brendan) and the 'Touring Twats' team (Rob, Christian and Mark) heard about our riding plans for the following days they couldn’t help but join us.

Day 1:
We all meet outside the hotel, the formal finish line of the Hardalpitour, in Cesana Torinese. We knew the Irish could have riden only until the afternoon and as it was already late we aimed for a close place for something to eat.







We went into Valle Argentera where we ended up stopping for a delicious fresh lunch in a Malga, a cheese maker with hosting facilities.

















Again, like the previous night, the lunch was a pleasure to share and the atmosphere was really good.













As usual, the Irish drank too much ending up confusing a bright, intense proud red with a discolored, limp red(ish) stripe on the flag



After lunch on the way back Wiilie’s HP2 had a puncture. They had to finish the ride even earlier than planned to be back in Cesana in time to pack and start travelling back home. Rob and Christian stayed with them to help with some old “looking for the hole” technique…



Jeff, David, Corrado and I went on to Monte Corbioun, Lago Nero and Punta Rascia first…









…and along the trails that take you to the abandoned villages of Colombiere and Soubras later. We finished at Corrado’s ski house in Bardonecchia where we had a glorious dinner that Marcella, his wife, who came all the way from Turin to cook for us, had made.











Day 2: After a great sleep with a full belly, we left Corrado’s early in the morning to meet up with Christian and Rob who rode with us again. Unfortunately Mark’s Tiger has showed the limits of its off road capability with the engine just about to come off the frame…making it impossible for him to ride.
Destination was Monte Jafferau and it’s Fort. To get there we rode on an old military street, formally called “strada militare 79” that was built by the royal Italian military genius in 1886 to connect the 4 forts patrolling the basin of Bardonecchia, namely , Forte Fenil, Forte Pramand, Forte Foens and Forte Jafferau. They were in charge of arresting a possible invasion of the French along the Valley of Bardonecchia or Cesana Torinese. This street was used from the army up to the end of WWII as it is still clearly visible from the stone writing that prises Mussolini.







This is a fantastic gravel and winding road that takes from 1050 meters asl up to just over 2775 meters. To get there you will enter some cool galleries



Half way up, following a 2 km diversion, we reached Forte di Pramand (also called Batteria di Pramand-in English “cannon set of Pramand) which is located at 2162 meters a.s.l. This was the last of all the fort of the valley to be built. It was finished in 1905 and was armed with four long range cannon.





Where the four cannon used to be, today there are four big holes in the roof of the fort that are accessible with the bike from the back of the building.













Going back to Strada Militare 79 one hundred below the fort, you enter Galleria dei Saraceni:



With its 900 meters of complete darkness and wet, it is worth a trip to come and cross it! It was built between 1925 and 1929 to bypass a tract of street constantly destroyed by avalanches during the winter and landslides during the good season.

The ride continues with tight bends and huge drops on the edge of the path allowing for a spectacular view of the valley below and the peaks in front of you.











Le Grotte dei Saraceni are natural grottos that take their name form Saracens, marauding bands that appeared at the beginning of the tenth century and used those cavities as one of their hideouts. According to a legend, the fabulous treasure of the Caliph Abdullah Hassan would be hidden within.

As the altitude increased, the natural scenery changes. Mountain fir trees give way to large bare moorland and rocks.





Then suddenly after turning a left corner you will see the top Monte Jafferau and the fort ruins on its summit.





Rising to the fort











Completed in 1898, Fort Jafferau had vital strategic importance in the control of the French-Italian border. With its battery of long-range cannons one was able to strike deep into French territory. It also had a good level of autonomy thanks to the military road built to reach it and the cable car that started from the town of Oulx, 2000 meters below in the valley.
The fort was decommissioned in 1915 and was rearmed on the eve of WWII with 8 cannons. At the end of WWII, the fort was bombed and destroyed in accordance with the terms of the peace treaty with France (Treaty of Paris).
Today, nothing is left of the formal structure of the fort, still it is possible to see the locations of the 8 cannons placed on top of the fort itself, with specified angles for aiming the cannons. These can nowadays been used to eat a packed lunch or a place to set your tents.









After lunch we went down toward Bardonecchia.



















Back in Bardonecchia, Christian and Rob went back to the hotel whereas Jeff, Corrado, David and I went on to rise the long trail that takes to glacier of Monte Sommeiller. This is a beautiful 60 kms return road that travel along a high valley first and on to the steep edge of the mountain later.















Here, in the early seventies, a small summer ski resorts were built. On the glacier there were three bananas ski lifts, a small hotel and a couple of restaurants. This resort was open roughly from May until the end of July.







In the early eighties the resort was abandoned and today there's not a hint of what it has been. More sadly though, the glacier is also melting due to global warming and of what was visible in the postcard from the seventies above, very little is left.



















That night we made Corrado’s house in Bardonecchia just in time for a quick refreshing shower and off to a restaurant for a full traditional Piedmont cusine dinner with good local wine. Loads of chats and plans for future excursions…

Day 3: a relatively shorter ride today (still some 150 km of mainly off road) as we will leave Bardonechia in the afternoon to go back to Turin.
We rode along the motorway A32 from Bardonecchia eastward up to Chiomonte. From there a nice twisty trail run deep into a forest that keep rising until it opens in a green plateau. Placed in the middle of this there is a Malga producing some fantastic cheese.









Inside a dangerous place for dairy products lovers…











Back down in the valley and we reached Meana di Susa where the “Strada Militare del Colle delle Finestre” starts. Unpaved only in its lower part and completely unpaved for the rest of it length, is a very old military street that was built during the eighteen century to allow the passage between Val di Susa and Valle del Chisone and to serve the big “Forte di Fenestrelle” placed in the later valley. This steep and twisty road goes from 730 meters a.s.l up to “Colle delle Finestre”, a pass at 2176 meters a.s.l. This street is a famous destination for bikers and it is a part of one of the stages of “giro d’Italia” in different editions.
At the pass there is “il Forte delle Finestre”. This fort was built in 1891 to control the two valleys. During WWI, as for all the forts of the area, it was dismissed of its armaments that were moved to the oriental border of the kingdom (Lombardia, Trentino e Veneto) where the war against the Austro-Hungarian Empire was going on. Due to a lack of strategic importance in the control of the French border, the fort was abandoned in 1928.











After leaving behind Colle delle Finestre we entered Strada dell’ Assietta. This is a famous old unpaved military street that runs for its whole length (over 30 kms) over 2000 meters a.s.l. When travelling on the road from east to west, it is characterized by having the mountain ridge on your right and the cliff to your left. It alternates tortuous and tight corners with long and fast stretches. Even if you are not suppose to, it is a real pleasure to ride going heavy on the trottle…



There is only one place that offers food along the way. Placed at 2527 meteres a.s.l. the “Alpine Refugee Casa Assietta”. It was built by the army in the 18th century to serve as infirmary and only in the second half of the 1900's it was converted into a street maintenance deposit first and into a proper refugee only in 2012. Today it is possible to use six bedrooms, for a total of 18 beds, and be feed at their basic but traditional restaurant.









With Strada dell' Assietta in the background, a nice parade of KTM Adventure of the three generations:
950 S, 990 S, 990R, 1190R…we should offer the picture to KTM…





Unfortunately, despite its beauty, I didn’t manage to take any more pictures that afternoon.
We had to go back to my place in Ivrea, some 150 kms towards Mont Blanc…



… though not missing the opportunity to show Jeff and David, Corrado’s warehouse and some of the masterpieces he creates…


























…but this is completely another story…

Ciao

Nicola
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Old 10-27-2013, 06:45 PM   #2
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Great RR and pics..thanks.
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Old 10-27-2013, 09:35 PM   #3
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Amazing Nic, thanks for the pics and some of the old photos of the forts....

After we left you we went to Bardonecchia to the tre croci - also a nice little ride, we left about 1800 and home back in Basel a bit after midnight.

Waiting for next year.........
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Old 10-27-2013, 10:21 PM   #4
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Great pics!



Thanks,

JM.
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Old 10-28-2013, 03:02 AM   #5
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many thanks

Great ride report and only sorry we ( irish team) could not have stayed longer, it is a beautiful part of the world ye are so lucky to have such a playground, many thanks go raibh mile maith agat, Brendan
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Old 10-28-2013, 10:05 AM   #6
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Great report and I LOOOOVE the old BMWs so cool
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:13 AM   #7
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You really can't go wrong on these places with such a good guide and weather !

Compliments for the pics and report

Btw, a note


Some years ago , the Rifugio Alpe Plane , in Valle Argentera was seriously damaged by a fire. Enduro and Adv bikers helped a little through a subscription.
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:41 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by GiorgioXT View Post
You really can't go wrong on these places with such a good guide and weather !

Compliments for the pics and report

Btw, a note


Some years ago , the Rifugio Alpe Plane , in Valle Argentera was seriously damaged by a fire. Enduro and Adv bikers helped a little through a subscription.

Thanks Giorgio!

I am sure you know the place very well!

Ciao

Nicola
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:04 AM   #9
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How much fun was that !

How much fun was that !

Great report Nic, and what a cool trip.

Truly amazing tracks, a very beautiful part of the world and great company.

My 990R was in heaven and so was I. Something about hooning around in the mountains on litre bikes that puts a big smile on your face.

Anyone whose never left 2nd gear on a muddy green lane in the UK really needs to go and check this part of europe out. You'll never look back.

Hope to see you all next year.

ps, I need to save my pennies and buy one of Corrado's BMW's.
They are so sexy !
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:23 AM   #10
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Hi david,

If you are over this way again soon u know where there is a room otherwise see you in about a year :

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Old 10-30-2013, 02:54 AM   #11
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Hi david,

If you are over this way again soon u know where there is a room otherwise see you in about a year :

Sent from my GT-I9505 using Tapatalk 2
Hi Rob,

Assuming that I was invited me too, I'll say thank you! I am afraid I will not travel your direction for quite some time, but I am otherwise sure Iwill see you at the Hardalpitour next year, and by the way we will have some news...a new date in July and...for the real hardcore riders...a two days stage in September

See you soon,

Ciao

Nic
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Old 10-30-2013, 03:11 AM   #12
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… though not missing the opportunity to show Jeff and David, Corrado’s warehouse and some of the masterpieces he creates…

{snip}

…but this is completely another story…
Hopefully to follow soon! Those are some beautiful airhead GSes.
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Old 10-30-2013, 04:37 AM   #13
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Hopefully to follow soon! Those are some beautiful airhead GSes.
There you are:

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=930499

Nic
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Old 10-31-2013, 01:14 PM   #14
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Nic,

Of course you also.. didnt get my mail?

please let me know about july and sept.. I need to put my holidays in soon

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Old 11-09-2013, 10:54 AM   #15
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I just received this picture from Steve Hamilton



This is the finish line of the Hardalpitour...just few hours before the above reported ride started
This picture is very important to me: the excitament, reward and sense of team accomplishment of finishing the HAT together was really cool:

Thanks Steve for sending this pics through!

Nic
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