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Online kendenton

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Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« on: November 16, 2013, 01:38:18 PM »
Alps 2013

This report won't be as wordy as some of my past ones - I didn't keep my usual journal while on the trip. Fortunately Peter came through with some great notes to help jog my memory.

We began this ride a little earlier in the season than usual because I had some work obligations that couldn't be changed. That decision turned out to have a big impact on our choice of routes as we went along.

As much as I love the Dolomites (and I LOVE the Dolomites), we all definitely wanted to cover new ground on this trip. We narrowed it down to the Pyrenees in eastern Spain or the southern Alps in France, with France eventually being the winner. It turned out to be much more expensive to rent in France than we'd seen on previous trips, which is how we ended up going back to Moto Maier in Landshut, Germany for our bikes. This was also going to be a little longer of a trip, 12 rental days instead of 10, which affected the price even more.

Once we had Moto Maier chosen the next decision was what bikes to rent. Dave went the easy route and opted for a repeat with his Honda CBF1000F. I had rented the TDM900 last time and loved it, but wanted to try something different - and something not available in the States. Having ridden the Honda VFR1200 at Americade and fallen in love with the motor I had no trouble choosing the VFR1200X Crosstourer. Same motor (with mods) but much more upright ergos than the VFR1200 sounded like a perfect bike. Peter had the FJR1300 last trip and also went with a Crosstourer this time. Another tempting option was the Super Tenere, but after a couple of dealer test rides I found the bike adequate, but not really exciting in any way.

On the previous 2 Alps trips I took on the bulk of the route planning - it's something I love doing, so I had no problem with it. For this trip we decided to do things differently and have each of us be responsible for different sections of the trip. With the exception of a couple days in Andermatt we'd be covering nearly all new ground. Dave took on the task of getting us from the bike rental dealer in Landshut into France over the course of 3 days. Peter was "assigned' France, and since I was familiar with Andermatt I took that section and the quick return to Landshut. While there was some back-and-forth with route sharing my basic incination was to let Dave and Peter have complete free reign over their sections. Pick some nice roads boys, and I'll follow along.

Let's begin.

5/29-5/30 - Getting There, and Munich

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Work day goes very slowly when you're waiting to leave on vacation

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Dave has been a very willing student of mine in the world of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. Here he is enjoying a free Envoy seat to Europe. Even managed to catch a few hours sleep.

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Ah, relaxed for the long flight

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Since we arrived in Munich much too early to check into the hotel we spent some time at the fabulous Deutsches Museum

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Dave may be trying to catch up on his sleep here

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They have all manner of fantastic old engines

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Great exhibit of mining, takes a long time to go through it though

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View from my room at the Holiday Inn Munich City Centre

On Friday Dave and Peter signed up for a tour out to the Dacchau concentration camp. I had visited the camp before, and while I found it fascinating I had no desire to see it again. I instead joined a walking tour of WWII sights that turned out to be fascinating. The weather was pretty rainy all day which was no fun.

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Ridiculous $8 cup of tea near the hotel

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The last stop on my walking tour was the old Nazi HQ building.. It now houses a music school.

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We returned to the school later on to wander around and take some pictures. It was very creepy being in this place.

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After our respective tours we met up again and headed out for a couple beers. Tried the house special beer, the 12% Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock. That picture is Dave, me and Peter

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Some new drinking buddies! Prost!
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:23:14 AM by kendenton »
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Online kendenton

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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2013, 01:38:53 PM »
6/1 Landshut to Prost

We awoke to sunny skies and made our way on the train from Munich to Landshut. We did a better job than last time finding Moto Maier and didn't drag our luggage around more than needed. Packed up the bikes, picked out our rental riding gear (some used, some brand new), filled out some paperwork and we were on our way. Unfortunately the rain started just as we were pulling out of the dealership - no reason to put on rain gear, though, right? Surely it will just be a couple drops...

As we worked our way out of Landshut and onto the autobahn I began to notice something wonky with my bike. I was geting a fair amout of vibration through the bars, magnified when braking. I though at first it was maybe a warped front rotor, but noticed that the vibrations also got worse over rough pavement. Like beginning-of-tankslapper shakey. This would dog me throughout the trip, and after some web searching it was almost certainly a too-loose stearing head bearing. Apparantly a number of bikes were delivered with their bearings too loose and early buyers were flocking back to their dealer for tightening. The steering nut is not easily accessible so an on-the-fly repair by us was not in the cards. Peter's Crosstourer did not exhibit any of the vibrations but he declined my offer to switch bikes so he could have a shiny red one instead of his drab black. I learnt to live with it by the end of the trip, but on the bumpier passes it made braking a real unpleasant experience.

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My mount for the trip, the Honda VFR1200X Crosstourer. Dave and Peter are in the background still packing.

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Peter also chose the Crosstourer.

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The weather had been nice all morning, but very soon into the ride the rain started.

For the most part we took Autobahn and major roadways all the way to the hotel. Dave had laid out several routes for the day depending on weather and schedule, and we were sticking to the "just get there" one due to the crappy weather. Along with my wobbly front end it turned out my dealer-supplied Pinlock visor wasn't working. If anything the visor was fogging worse in that area than the area around the insert. Adding that fog to the incessant spray from the trucks and visibility was close to nil until I ditched the insert at a roadside stop.

At some point after we had left the Autobahn we got diverted due to an accident under an overpass. We tried to figure out a way around to get back on route but Peter's GPS wasn't happy and Dave's wouldn't recalculate. We wandered up one street and down another, with a short excursion on a sidewalk thrown in before ending up right back at the overpass. Fortunately the accident had been cleared so we just rolled on through.

We finally arrived at the Hotel Post and I for one was very happy to just be done riding for the day. Between the constant rain, foggy visor, shakey front end and main-road truck traffic I didn't feel the trip was off to the best start. Most days riding is a joy, but once in a while there are times when you just have to slog through it. I couldn't believe I was complaining about motorcycling in Europe, but (of course) things would get better. A great dinner and a beer helped my mood immensely.

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Our first hotel of the trip, the Gasthof-Post in Prutz Austria

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We had the very large garage pretty much to ourselves
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:23:29 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2013, 01:39:19 PM »
6/2 Prutz to Lake Maggiore, Italy

And we awoke to...rain.

Decent breakfast at the hotel, no rush as we were hoping the rain would taper off before we rolled out. No such luck. The plan today was to make it to Lake Maggiore in Italy, riding over the first real passes of the trip. Things didn't go exactly according to plan.

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"wetter" indeed

The first road we had planned to take was closed and we got diverted into a much busier and less interesting series of roads. Eventually we started seeing signs for Nauders and that helped us figure out a plan to get back on track. It was also around here that we got seperated for the first time that day. Peter and Dave had GPS's with the routes while I was just following along. Between the heavy traffic and several roundabouts I lost sight of the guys. I figured they would wait up at the next town, but as I slowly rolled through I couldn't spot them. I got to the end of the town and zoomed ahead 3 or 4 miles to the next town, but didn't see them there either. I did see a lot of cool bikes coming the other way, presumably coming from Stelvio and Nauders. I u-turned and on the second pass through through the first town I spotted Dave and Peter on a side street - easy for me to miss when I was riding the other way. We had a roadside discussion about not losing each other and continued on our way.

At some point we crossed into Switzerland past some border guards who were busy with tour busses. I don't think we were supposed to stop anyway. Our first real pass of the trip was to be Abula Pass and my anticipation grew as we started to wind our way up the pass. Unfortunately we only made it a mile or two before we found the pass closed due to snow. This would not be the last time we got caught out by this. Not by a long shot.

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By the time we stopped for lunch the weather had vastly improved

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Starting up the first pass of the trip, Abula Pass

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Narrow and pretty

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Abula Pass closed due to snow. Our timing of the trip earlier in the season would prove...challenging.

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Peter is still blissfully ignorant of the closed road ahead.

After some quick rerouting we plotted a course past St. Moritz to Splugen Pass. We were heading over some minor pass, I don't recall what it was, and we agreed to do our usual pass riding - go your own pace over the pass, stop to take pictures if you like, and regroup at the top or the bottom. Dave was in the lead, Peter behind him and I was in the back. After a few miles we got strung out and lost sight of each other, no big deal on a pass. Peter and I caught up to each other, but when we rolled through the town at the bottom of the pass we couldn't spot Dave. I figured he went ahead to the next town and was actually a little annoyed, figuring this was a repeat of the incident earlier in the day. Peter and I rode and rode, but couldn't find Dave. Eventually we got to Thusis where we would change roads so we parked in town and tried to figure out what to do. Did Dave just keep riding, figuring Peter had the route? Did we miss him someplace behind us? Did something bad happen? We were deciding what to do (double back? continue because he's ahead of us?) when Dave rode up. Apparantly we missed him waaay back in the town at the bottom of the pass and he was pretty upset that we rode past him and kept going. We talked again about our pass riding strategy. Thankfully this was the last time we got split up.

The road up Splugen Pass was basically just hairpin after hairpin, getting colder and colder as we went higher and higher. The pavement was pretty beat up which was giving the Crosstourer fits of headshaking. The temperature at the top was just over freezing, it was raining slightly and foggy, and the weather was looking unsure. Our route to Lake Maggiore didn't really go over Splugen, we were just doing it as an up-and-back, and with the weather we decided not to go down the other side only to go back up again. We turned around at the summit and did the hairpins again on the descent.

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Pretty dang cold at the summit of Splugen

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Crossing into Italy!

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Me (photo by Peter)

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Looking back down Splugen Pass. Peter's in bright yellow.

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The Crosstourer parked on Splugen

After coming back down Splugen the weather improved as we headed for San Bernardino Pass. So far we had ridden through a lot of rain, got turned around at a closed Abula Pass, lost each other twice, did half of a bumpy freezing-cold Splugen Pass but San Bernardino Pass was worth it. Smooth pavement, great twisties, big views, etc. It was cold and empty at the top.

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Heading up San Bernardino Pass

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Dave coming up San Bernardino

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Top of the pass

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Time for a snack at the top of the pass

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Crosstourer at the top

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Peter coming down San Bernardino

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The other side of San Bernardino Pass was even better

After the twisty goodness of San Bernardino Pass we spent much of the rest of the afternoon on highways and busy main roads on the way to the lake. Right after the pass we almost made the mistake of heading North instead of South, which would have stuck us in a huge traffic jam through a long tunnel. Once we got that figured out we couldn't believe the length of the traffic jam heading North. At least 15 miles of stopped traffic (including a couple exotics). How long it was going to take those people to get home I can't imagine.

We found the night's hotel without any trouble. The front desk guy gave us (not very accurate) directions to a good restaurant in town which we walked to once we unpacked. A great dinner beside the lake was the perfect end to a very long (and sometimes stressful) day.

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The view out my window over Lake Maggiore

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The view from the shared 2nd floor porch. Can't complain.
(Link to full-res panorama)

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Some tasty Bruschetta to start off dinner
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:23:48 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2013, 01:39:48 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/03, Italy to Briancon, France

Warm temperatures and sunny blue skies promised a great day of riding. Dave had plotted out an interesting route to France that would take us over a number of high passes once we got out of Italy. We started out following the shore of the lake, which was slow going but very pretty. Lots and lots of crazy scooter riders along the route. After the lake we got turned around a couple times going through small towns, and outside of Torino decided to hit the Autostrada (64/E70/A32) for a bit to make some time to France (and avoid going through Torino). This turned out to be an expensive option as I think we were hit up for about 16 Euro for various tolls on our way to Susa.

Stopped for a quick snack at a gas station - they actually had very decent croissants. It was getting pretty hot by this point so we shed some layers and hydrated. I was happy to have the Autostrada behind us, and excited that France lay just ahead.

We headed up SS25 which turned out to be quite a lot of fun - perfect pavement, good sightlines, only a couple other vehicles (quickly dispatched). The smooth pavement was keeping the Crosstourer calm, and since we were going uphill there was a lot less braking needed - which also helped not to upset the bike. The summit of Pas du Paradis was very pretty and very empty.

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Nothing like a full-service bar at a gas station

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France!

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At the top of Pas du Paradis

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Dave exploring

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Peter

After Pas du Paradis we made our way to Col du Mont Cenis. This turned out to be a gorgeous ride, with really wide-open view for miles. There was a reservoir at the top of the pass but the water level looked very low. We made our first purchase of pass stickers (deciding pass pins were too expensive this time around) and generally were just enjoying the feeling of being on another Alps ride.

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Crosstourer at the summit of Col du Mont Cenis

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Dam

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Peter at Col du Mont Cenis

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What the area looks like when the reservoir is full

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Panorama of Col du Mont Cenis
(full res panorama here)

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Dave starting down Col du Mont Cenis

At this point our route was going to take us West for a bit then South over Col du Galibier and Col du Lautaret, both of which were supposed to be fantastic roads and frequently show up on the Tour de France. Once we got to the start of Col du Galibier though we were greeted with a sign informing us the pass was "FERME". Uh-oh. Our hotel for the night in Briancon was on the other side of these passes and it looked like there weren't a lot of other options. Dave and Peter punched buttons on their GPS's for a while, and hatched a plan to go further West to Col de la Croix de Fer. That would take us south to where we needed to go, but if it was also closed we would be in trouble.

I don't have a lot of specific memories of this pass, other than it was really bumpy and narrow, and felt very "off the beaten path". Not normally a bad thing, but we were already way behind schedule and not sure if we'd make the hotel or not. There were a couple detours off the pass which only added to my anxiety.

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Not sure, but I think this is heading over Col de la Croix de Fer

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Signs for walking paths

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Stopped at the crossroads by this little dam to confer on the right route.

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Col de la Croix de Fer was actually pretty in some places but I was just eager to be done for the day (or at least know what the rest of the day would hold).

After what seemed like hours we popped out onto the main road, D526. We pointed the bikes toward Briancon and twisted the throttles. Around Villar-d'Arene the road became very interesting for a little while, big sweepers and alpine scenery, then headed back down to the straight-as-an-arrow main road. It was about this time that gas was becoming an issue for all of us. We finally found a station, but after trying card after card it looked like only Peter's Canadian Amex worked. Thanks for the gas Peter!

We did our best to beat the darkness to Briancon - so much so that I got flashed by a speed camera at one point. We made it to the hotel around 9pm, just before closing time for the restaurant. Cold beer never felt so good.

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What a day.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:24:04 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2013, 01:40:29 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/04, Briancon to Castellane - Part One

Best day of the trip so far. By far.

OK, so the French really know how to make croissants. I lost count of how many I had at breakfast, but it was an unhealthy amount. The weather could not have been nicer and we had a great route planned for the day. The lady at the front desk of the hotel gave us a website to check for real-time pass closure information for France, and the news it gave was not good. At least a half-dozen passes Peter had planned for us to ride were still closed. The orginal route had us going over Col de la Bonette, but that was closed so we sat down after breakfast and did some quick planning.

We headed south on N94 toward Guillestre, which was pretty but not a particularly interesting road. Once we approaced Col de Vars (D902) the road began to improve dramatically. Great pavement, a good mix of hairpins and sweepers and some terrific views got the day off to a fantastic start. There was a sport car rally group taking a break at the top with some interesting cars I haven't seen before.

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Working up Col de Vars

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Full-res pano available here

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Near the top of Col de Vars

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Sports car rally stop at the summit

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Ford Escort RS Cosworth

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Hot-rod Celica?

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This guy had a unique way of packing

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Um, OK...

After the bumpy ride down the south ramp of Col de Vars the next item on the list was Col de la Cayolle. We went west on D900 through Barcelonnette, then continued on D902. We started to see big yellow signs with "ferme" and "Cayolle" on them, but these were bigger than just the "pass closed" signs we had seen before. We sent Peter back to snap a picture of the sign, and the three of us did our best to translate the French. Since there were some times on the sign we came to the conclusion that the pass was closed at certain times. Or open at certain times. Either way, since we had a lot of time to reach our destination today we decided to press on and see what happens. Turned out to be a very good idea.

Col de la Cayolle was the highlight of the trip so far. It traversed very diverse scenery, from low canyons to deep forest to canyon-wall-hugging ribbon of tarmac to bridges over waterfalls to a snow-capped summit. The pavement wasn't the best on the north ramp, but the scenery made up for it.

Eventually we got to the road closure area, and it turned out to be a direction-controlled one-way temporary bridge they were using to replace a section of road. Lots of loose gravel covering the metal bridge made for a fun crossing. We didn't know if this was just the beginning of the construction, but that little bit was all there was.

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Our first hint of the canyon riding to come

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Full res pano available here

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Some other riders passing by

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Not a lot of room left over

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Dave heading up Col de la Cayolle

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Looking back on Col de la Cayolle, the best is yet to come

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Col de la Cayolle was nothing if not scenic

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Peter

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That's Dave on the bridge

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Dave on Col de la Cayolle

The top of the pass was really cold and snowy, with ice and snow in patches on the road. There was barely enough room for one car to get through some of the snowy sections.

The south ramp of Col de la Cayolle may not have had the varied views of the north, but the pavement was perfect and super-twisty. A proper pass, almost (but not quite) good enough to be mentioned with the greats like Sella and Giau. I just wish that section was longer.

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Looking down the south ramp of Col de la Cayolle

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Curvy goodness

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Crosstourer on Col de la Cayolle

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Full-res pano of Col de la Cayole here

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"Action" shot of Peter nearing the bottom of Col de la Cayolle. I brought the smaller Nikon D3200 body instead of my normal D300, and I was finding it much harder to get any good action shots. I don't think it has the horsepower to track moving objects as well as the D300 does.

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And here comes Dave

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Unusual high-angle for a shot like this. You can see his giant Garmin 276C on the right side of the bars

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Route des Grandes Alps indeed

We stopped for lunch at the base of the pass at a little cafe that had a couple friendly dogs to keep you company.

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Very cool knife

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Dave's lunch

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"You're not going to eat all that by yourself, right?"

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My buddy for the meal
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:24:18 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2013, 01:41:15 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/04, Briancon to Castellane - Part Two

After a very tasty lunch we continued south on D2202 out of Entraunes and soon found ourselves in the Gorges de Daluis, a gorgeous deep canyon with red rock walls. This was like nothing I'd ever ridden through before, and completely unexpected. Pretty much all my previous European rides have been over mountain passes, simiilar to Col de la Cayolle earlier in the day. Snaking through impossibly deep canyons was a surprise - little did I know we would be riding many more (and larger) canyons in the days to come. Because the road hugged the canyon wall there were only a couple places to stop the bike and take photos.

One of the coolest things about this particular canyon ride were all the one-way tunnels.There are 17 tiny one-way tunnels in the space of a mile or two - traffic going south went through a tiny tunnel, opposing traffic looped out on a tiny overhang to go around the tunnel. I'd never seen anything like this before and loved it. I made several passes up and down the canyon wall.

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Check out the blue truck high up on the canyon wall in the Gorges de Daluis

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Road disappears into tunnel in upper right of photo

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One of the many tunnels

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One of the wider tunnels

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Looking back through several micro-tunnels

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This shot kind of shows how cool this road is - oncoming traffic goes through the tunnel, this side goes out around it.

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Dave in the Canyon

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It's a long way down

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Looking down into the gorge. Full res version of the panorama here.

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The Gorge Circuit map

After the gorge we continued south on D202, passing Lac de Castillon, and arrived at our accomodations late afternoon. We were going to be in Castellan for 3 nights, so we decided to be frugal and take a chance renting a modular "home" at a campsite a short walk from the center of town. The host was very nice and directed us to our unit, then took some time to show us how everything worked. While the space was fairly tight for 3 people we all had our own beds and a common seating area. Considering the cost was about $22 per person per night we weren't complaining.  There were a group of 4-7 BMW GS riders in the unit next to us, so maybe we were in the biker section of the campground. We unpacked the bikes and got things organized in our rooms and took the 5 minute walk into town for dinner.

We explored the center of Castellan a bit and wanderied down some side streets before choosing a place on the main square for dinner. We had a very fun waitress that was practicing her English skills with us. I was delighted to find some Belgian beer on the menu and ordered a couple bottles of Chimay Grand Reserve for Peter and I.

What a great day.

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Just a few minutes walk from the center of town

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Our home for the next 3 nights

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Living room

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My room

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Dave and Peter had to share a room.

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Mmmm
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:24:35 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2013, 01:41:58 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/05, Gorge Loop, Part One

I've snow-camped in the Rockies, but I don't think I've ever had a colder night than I did last night. No need to bother learning how the heater works, right? We're in Southern France and it's practically summer! Big mistake. I don't know what the temperature got down to but I spent the night shivering, even under multiple blankets and fully dressed. First order of business in the morning was firing up the heater and thawing out.

The campsite offers a reasonably-priced breakfast, but we weren't told we needed to order the night before. We placed our order for tomorrow and walked into town to see what we could find. There was a market being set up in the town square with a few dozen vendors offering cheese, bread, spices, meats and other small items. We snacked a bit and found a little cafe for coffee/tea/OJ/bread/croissants.

I had the creepiest experience the previous night. While walking past the gate below, I SWORE I saw a child's hand reaching out from where the space next to the blue panel is. As we got closer to the gate the hand disappeared. The creepy part was that the place looked pretty much uninhabited. We never saw or heard anyone behind the gates. It became a running joke over the next few days since we had to pass the gate on our way to/from town.

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Creepy gate

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Early morning market

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Spices

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That's a lot of cheese

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Peter makes a purchase from the Nougatier

Peter had laid out the route for today and fortunately there were no closed passes on it so there was no last-minute rerouting and recalculating. D952 took us west towards Gorges du Verdon,, known as the "Grand Canyon of Europe". That may be overstating it, but the canyon/gorge was very beautiful. The road on the north side of the canyon hung to the canyon wall in a lot of parts, but was pretty busy with tourists and poorly paved. More of a sightseeing rouad than a "get your groove on" road, which was OK this early in the morning.

D23 starting heading south via a series of switchbacks, rising higher and higher all the time. Near the highest point there was an incredible overlook where we stopped for a while. It was a popular spot for birders as there were several folks watching the vultures soaring above and below us. A couple we were talking to for a bit said the vultures were brought in from Spain to repopulate the area.

Leaving that overlook the road continued with hairpins seperated by long straights. There was a great moment coming around a right-hander where the road appeared to be on the edge of the world - the vastness of the gorge was just on the other side of the road, below our sightlines. One second you were negotiating a hairpin with bushes/scrub/trees on both sides, and then there was just...nothing on the outside edge of the road but sky. A definite "whoa" moment.

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The road heading into Gorges du Verdon

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The view into the gorge was just stunning

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Peter, me and Dave at Gorges du Verdon

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Lots of vultures(?) flying above and below us at one of the overlooks

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Peter waiting for us to get done taking pictures

After the "whoa" hairpin the road stayed on the cliffside and offered views across the gorge to the road we'd be riding later in the day. Pretty soon we left the canyon and started to head west to Sisteron. What may have looked good on the map (or google) was in reality a long tedious slog through bland countryside and crowded towns bustling with tourists. One town had a farmer's market set up in the main square and looked like a good place to grab a cheap lunch. Dave and I were ready for a break but Peter persuaded us that it was a long way to go yet to Sisteron and we should keep riding.

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iPhone pano of canyon hairpins

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Dave riding Gorges du Verdon. Across the canyon you can see the road we'll be on later in the day.

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Looking across the gorge to some cool tunnels we'll be riding through many hours later.

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Lake/reservoir

We eventually got to Saint-Etienne-les-Orgues to pick up the road to Pas de la Graille (D113/D53) where Dave and I called mutiny and insisted we eat. We parked by a little food truck, but he was closing up for the day. It took a bit to find this out since he spoke no English and we spoke no French. On previous trips the language barrier had been pretty much non-existant, but in rural France we did have a few instances where it all came down to hand gestures. We bought a couple Cokes, and while we sat there drinking I think he took pity on us and brought us over an order of (delicious) French Fries (in France!). Not quite as good as Belgian frittes, but close.

After that small lunch (one order of fries divided 3 ways) we rode out of town to find the pass we needed was ...wait for it...closed.

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Looks like a good place for a cheap lunch

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Closing up

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Pity fries!

 

 
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:24:52 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2013, 01:42:39 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/05, Gorge Loop, Part Two

At least this time the pass wasn't closed because of snow - construction barred our way. Following the "Deviation" sign seemed like it would be a simple affair, but after riding around for 10 minutes and a lot of GPS poking it became clear we wouldn't find our way to the pass. We instead starting heading east to Sisteron on more uninteresting roads. After spending too long not getting too far we abandonded the Sisteron plan and plotted a direct course back to the gorge area. Yet more tedious boring roads through built-up areas did not help make the day any better. I think at this point we'd spent 2 hours having a good ride on the north side of the gorge, and 4 hours bumbling around riding hither and yon and seeing nothing. Sometimes things look better on the map than in person. One segment on the ride back was over a barely-one-lane-wide goat path where we saw no other vehicles, and that was at least scenic and kind of interesting. Slow going though.

At the town of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon we picked up a road that took us to the west end of Lake Sainte-Croix, then across the dam holding back the lake and finally to the south side of the gorge. It rained on us for a few minutes but nothing serious. The south side gorge road was even better than the north road from this morning. Less traffic, very nice pavement and fantastic views of the gorge around every turn.

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One-lane goat path was the only highlight of the non-gorge section of the day

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The town of Bauduen

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Across the gorge is the road from the morning ride

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Cool road crew job

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Looking back on the road on the south side of the gorge

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The gorge is truly spectacular

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iPhone panorama

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"Caption this" photo

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South side gorge road

We stopped for a bit when the road starting getting away from the gorge near the eastern end of things. We picked our way through some scrub and took some shots from the rim, then I rode ahead to try to get some action shots of the guys. The road immediately past our stopping point was on a plateau so had very little elevation changes. Mostly it was long straights (.5-1km or so), a turn, then another long straight. There were just low bushes on either side of the road so visibility was nearly limitless. I quickly put a lot of distance between myself and the guys. I was trying to find a good corner for action shots but that eluded me for many miles.

Eventually the road started turning north towards the rim again, and the low bushes gave way to rocky outcroppings and the long straights disappeared. This section of the road was fairly twisty, narrow and perfectly paved. It was difficult to call a stop to the riding fun to set up for photos.

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Twisty section on south rim of gorge

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Dave

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Peter approaches

After I got some shots of the guys the road continued to twist and turn along the canyon wall until finally it opened up and we came to a beautiful bridge spanning the gorge. There was another great section of fast twisty road, but I can't recall which side of the bridge it was on. I do rememeber that each of us doubled-back for a bit to score a re-ride.

Eventually we picked up the same road into town that we took in the morning and made our way back to Castellane. It had been a very long day, and we were starving by the time we walked into town (breakfast having been some bread and lunch was 1/3 an order of fries). We were too tired to shop around so went back to the same restaurant as the night before - even had the same waittress.

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Pretty bridge over the gorge

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Peter's impressed

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Peter cruising one of the corners on the north side of the bridge

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Beautiful view coming into a town - hard to see from this shot but there's a castle on the right side, just at the ridgeline

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Walking into town

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Gorgeous Moto Morini Gran Passo

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Our regular dinner spot

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The 12 or 18 euro dinner options were pretty decent

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The owner sent us over a 'digestive' after dinner

Overall the day was a mixed bag. It started out and finished great with rides around the gorge, but the bulk of the day was spent on uninteresting roads trying to get other places. In the ride planning stages of the trip we had all talked about our expectations for how much riding we would want to do in a day. While this day may have fell within those parameters I felt that we had overdone it. I'm sure not having a GPS, or indeed any idea where we were or where we were going, didn't help my feeling that the day was just dragging on and on. Maybe I was just spoiled by the Dolomites and Andermatt riding areas which are compact with tons of great riding in all directions. Overall I can't complain too much - we were riding motorcycles in Europe after all.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:25:05 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2013, 01:43:18 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/06, Col d'Allos Day, Part One

Today's plan was improvised last night since most of the higher passes Peter had planned to take (like Col de Champs) were still closed. We picked a new pass that would take us north, then had a few options for a return depending on time and, if we were extremely lucky, a pass opening during the day. Our campsite-provided breakfast was delicious, hot fresh croissants and crusty bread along with tea and coffee.

We headed north out of Castellane toward Lac de Castillon on D955 - another artificial lake and another dam. Pretty scenery and moderately interesting roads got the day off to an easy start. Not far out of Castellane we encountered a large group of hang-gliders coming off a mountain to the left. I'm sure Dave would have liked to stop and see if he could have gotten a chance to try it. Our first stop was in the town of Colmars where we spotted a fort on the hill. We wandered around the fort for a while and also checked out the medieval walled town at it's base.

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Fort de Savoie in Colmars

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Peter walking up to the fort

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Fort de Savoie

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Walled town of Colmars-les-Alpes (I think)

From Colmars we continued north towards our goal for the morning, Col d'Allos. There were a lot of ski lifts at the base of the path - cables going seemingly in every direction. The southern ramp up the pass was in very poor repair, with the road literally falling away in sections. The best parts of the road up were still bumpy, narrow and potholed. The view was pretty impressive though, with typical alpine snow-capped peaks and green valleys. Almost no place on the ascent to really work the bike, just enjoy the view. Fortunately it was just a few miles to the top.

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Danger Danger

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Dave heads on up Col d'Allos

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The view wasn't bad

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Looking down to the base of the pass

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iPhone pano going up the pass.

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Snow starting to creep onto road

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Crosstourer on Col d'Allos

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Near the top

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Me arriving at the summit of Col d'Allos

There was a lot of snow at the summit, and a few other motorcycles and bicyclists. We ran into our neighbors from the campground, the gang of GS riders. Talked to one of them, turns out they are all cops from Dusseldorf and this is their 28th annual Alps vacation. Incredible. We hung around the top for a while, walking around the snow, taking in the views and watching other 2-wheelers come and go.

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Some other bikers at the summit

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Pretty high snowpack

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Exploring

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Col d'Allos, 2250 meters

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Lots of snow

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Canada!

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Hiking trails from the summit

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Looking back the way we came

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Looking north - full-res pano available here

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Me at the top of Col d'Allos

I started the descent down the north ramp but pulled into a parking area after only one turn. This is what caught my eye:

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Oh my

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Nice setting

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Dino 246GT (or GTS?)

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Older 911

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Aston Martin Volante

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Austin Healey 100

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Maybe they are a nice bunch of "regular Joes" - but I bet they aren't. Nearby table set up with champagne and cheeses.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:25:20 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2013, 01:43:42 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/06, Col d'Allos Day, Part Two

Heading down the north side of Col d'Allos was very different than heading up. While the pavement was still pretty crappy, and the roadway very narrow, the views were amazing and the dropoffs pretty intense. At times the road hugged the mountainside overlooking the chasm across to a view of the road on the mountainside opposite. The north side was also a lot longer than the south, and we all had plenty of opportunities to stop and take photos and enjoy the view. Couple more vintage cars passed by us going up the pass, maybe to join the "Executive Racing Club" at the top.

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Starting down Col d'Allos

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Looking over to where we'd be in a few minutes

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Peter on Col d'Allos

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Pano of Col d'Allos. Big u-shaped canyon, you can see the road in and out on both sides. Full-res version here

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Getting close to the bottom

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Dave near the bottom of Col d'Allos

We stopped for lunch in Barcelonette at a cafe in the apparant center of town. Ordered an "American" sandwich, which was chopped steak, french fries and ketchup on a baguette. This being France they took the baguette seriously - our waitress rode her bicycle to the bakery after she took our order to get fresh rolls. Nice.

A nice suprise was seeing a decent beer selection. They had about a dozen quality Belgian beers available - I ordered a La Trappe Witte since it had the lowest alcohol content (still 5.5%, but for a Belgian beer that is practically non-alcoholic). Peter had a La Chouffe on my recommendation, and Dave enjoyed his traditional Diet Coke. Just one beer at lunch - drinking and riding is a very bad idea. One beer over the course of an hour-long lunch I'm comfortable with.

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Great lunch cafe in Barcelonette

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Delicious American sandwich, on very fresh bread

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Not my favorite La Trappe (that honor goes to their Triple), but still very good

At lunch we discuss our options for the ride back south. Since no passes suddenly opened we were basically left with returning over Col D'Allos - no thanks, it was not worthy of a second visit - or hit several minor passes more southwest from Barcelonette. So, we headed west then south. Didn't take too long for the skies to open up on us. A real hard heavy rain that threatened to soak through our gear. Well, Dave's and my gear, as Peter decided not to pack his today. His ride had to be truly miserable.

In the town of Seyne, with the rain still pouring down, Peter takes a right turn off the main road onto a narrow, steep, downhill cobblestone alleyway. Dave follows, and I take one look down the ramp and stop. Peter and Dave stop after a few yards, obviously realizing that this is not the main way through town, but the alley is too steep and wet to attempt a turnaround. I ride ahead about 20 yards to a small parking lot and wait. Both the GPS's are now out of sight. After what seems like 10 minutes of sitting in the pouring rain Peter comes around and finds me, and informs me he found another way out of town - but we have to ride down the alley since Dave is waiting at the bottom. We get through that and then do some illegal wrong-way-down-a-one-way-street scooting until we finally emerge onto something resembling a main road. Whew.

Our route turns single-lane pretty quickly as we go through farmland and up and down some hilly areas (not mountains). The rain begins to taper off but fog lingers. We reach Col du Fanget, one of our goals for the return trip, but it's a complete non-event. After that the road heads down a narrow rocky valley, but the intermittent rain but a damper (groan) on things. After a little while the rain stops, and the road begins to go through a very scenic and twisty rocky canyon.

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Col du Fanget. If there wasn't a sign you'd never know

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More French canyons

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Is this Peter? I don't remember anymore...

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Choices

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Crosstourer at photo stop

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Peter on the bridge

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Dave on the bridge

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Fantastic canyon on the way to Digne

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Very scenic

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Young kids showing off. He was hauling through there on 2 wheels

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Narrow

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Old bridge
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:25:43 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2013, 01:44:56 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/06, Col d'Allos Day, Part Three

After the canyon section we continued towards Digne, and as we get closer the traffic increases dramatically. Digne is no one-horse town and pretty soon we're trying to work our way through rush-hour commuting and short sections of divided highways. At the first main traffic circle Peter takes the wrong exit (trying to follow the GPS and not just read the signs) that gets us stuck on a highway for a few miles before we can turnaround at the next circle. This sort of thing would pop up a few times on this trip, and it had last trip as well - blindly following the GPS and ignoring the (correct) signage on the road. Not a huge complaint, mind you, the guys did a great job navigating through hundreds of different road changes. It was just frustrating once in a while for me to see the obvious sign pointing to our destination and watch the guys head a different way, heads pointed down at the GPS screen.

After Digne the road opened up and the traffic thinned out a little. While the road wasn't particularly scenic or overly twisty, it was wide and well-paved and that felt good after a whole day of crawling over narrow passes and through tight canyons. Kind of like if you did Smoke Hole Road in WV a few times back-to-back, then come out on 28 for the ride down to Seneca Rocks. It's just a different mindset of riding, you can dial back your game a bit.

Once we got south of Barrême and onto the N85 nearly all the traffic is left behind and the road starts following a valley wall. The N85 is also known as the Route Napolean, and was something that was very high on my list of things to do on this trip. I think it was actually my only request for the France section. I was happy to see that it was starting out nicely. Very scenic, then it starts to add some nice sweepers into the mix, then it makes a sharp left through a one-car wide hole in the rock and...holy crap! The valley opens up and the road (barely) clings to the mountainside, weaving left and right with a huge dropoff over the foot-high wall on the edge of the road. It reminds me a little of Hawk's Nest (NY97), but on steroids. Just stunningly beautiful, and completely unexpected. The narrow ledge section only lasts a mile or so and we pull over as soon as the road goes back to normal. We all walk back to the ledge section to get some photos. Absolutely no shoulder, we have to stand on the curb/wall when cars come by.

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Looking back through the keyhole

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Looking back at some of the ledge section

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Full-res pano available here

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Once you make that left turn the canyon section is pretty much over

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Pano of N85 canyon section courtesy of Dave

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Very cool rocks

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Peter getting some pictures

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Looking back to the exit of the ledge section

I figured that amazing little section of road would be the highlight of the day. I couldn't have been more wrong. Once the canyon was left behind the road headed through some forest with a couple nice turns here and there and pristine pavement.The forest led to a section that ran along a smaller ridge with great views of Castellane, and then the road started the descent to the town. And what a perfect descent it was. Sweepers, hairpins, chicanes, you name it. All with great sightlines, magnificent views and perfect pavement. Basically a racetrack. This was the first time on this trip I got the Alps "high". It was the best sections of the best roads in WV, but with mountain views and no LEOs to worry about.

When we got to the bottom and all caught up with each other (we'd been leapfrogging each other doing photo stops), Dave and I chose to make a run back up to the ledge section and back down. I was off like a flash and rode as hard as I dared, all the time with the biggest smile on my face. We did have a brief pause while a flock of sheep were herded across the road, but then it was Game On again. What an unbelievably great section of road. I didn't even mind the front end of the bike shaking like a paint mixer on the brakes, nothing was going to sour the moment.

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La Chapelle du Roc, Castellane, France

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Sheep!

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Just one of the perfect turns on N85 heading down to Castellane. I'm cheating a bit here, as these next few photos are from our run up and back the next morning. Full-res pano available here.

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What's not to love? Full-res pano available here.

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Fun fun fun. Full-res pano available here.

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Our home for 3 nights. My room is on the left, Dave and Peter had the room on the right. This panorama makes it look WAAAY bigger than it actually was.

Once back in Castellane we parked the bikes at our campsite and walked back into town. Our "usual" restaruant was closed so we ate next door. The food wasn't as good but still not bad. Tomorrow we will be leaving the canyons of southern France for a while as we make our way to Nice for a non-riding day on the shores of the Mediterranean sea.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:26:30 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2013, 01:45:24 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/07, The Ride to Nice

I got up extra early so I could squeeze in a ride up to the ledge road again. It was pretty chilly and the road was foggy in places, but I still had a blast. There were a few other bikes out tearing it up as well. I was back in time for a late breakfast, again at the campground. Our table is outside on this warm perfect summer morning, and life is good. After breakfast all of us make one last blast up and back to the ledge.

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N85 - again, I'm cheating with the pictures of this road. Some are from the day before, some are from today. I can't keep them straight.

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iPhone pano of one of the great turns on the N85

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The forest section was quite fun

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Crosstourer

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Looking back on the ledge section

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Stopped on the road for a second to get a few pictures. Pretty much no traffic this early in the morning,

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Dave

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The Crosstourer

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Peter

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Looking down on a great section of the road

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For some reason Peter strikes me as looking very Italian in this shot.

Peter had a great route planned to Nice but with some of the passes still closed he improvised another one. Basically we took N4085 to D6085 on our way to Grasse. The road was pretty in places, but nothing special. A couple sections we were high up on the hill and had huge views across valleys, but for the most part it was just a Point A to Point B ride.

On the outskirts of Grasse we encountered a big taffic jam as a car transport was trying to unload cars in the middle of the narrow main street through town. Once past that, the actual town of Grasse was worse. So many little roads going in every direction, had to doube-back when we got off-route for a while. I'm surprised we ever found our way out, the town was very busy and confusing. It was filled, however, with lots of pretty French girls in dresses.

We stopped for lunch and to stretch our legs a bit in the town of Tourrettes-sur-Loup. We barely managed to squeeze our 3 bikes into the only available space in the town square parking lot (having passed on the free visitor bus from a huge lot 1/2 mile away since we couldn't understand the signs). There was a cool medeival section of town to explore, all narrow winding streets on the side of a cliff. Some great ice cream and croissants constituted lunch if I recall.

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Tourrettes-sur-Loup

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View towards the Med. Hot and hazy.

As we got closer to Nice the roads got bigger and busier. Peter took a wrong turn at one of the circles and ended up on the road he specifically wanted to avoid - D6202, Route de Grenoble south to Nice.

The next few miles into Nice, and the ride through Nice to the hotel were pretty crazy. Scooter traffic everywhere, cars zooming into every gap, typical European city driving I guess. We tried our best to keep together but that wasn't always possible.

Here's an excerpt from Peter's notes on that section

- traffic is moving fast, need to speed up, a little scary, make sure Dave and Ken are still with me, don't lose them
- GPS wants to recalculate...sure...but tells me to make a u-turn...yeah, right!...that's not going to happen
- I continue and hope for the best, luckily I have a vague idea where I'm going because I remember some of the roads from Google street view :o)
- traffic becomes very crazy when we get off M6202, but still looks like we're heading in the right direction
- I can picture the hotel being not too far (behind that cluster of buildings), we just need to get onto the road that follows the beach and go east
- if we get totally lost we can pull over
- a little worried, really don't want to get lost, traffic is crazy, not sure if I'm heading in right direction, I can see the airport, that's good, need to go as far south toward airport, then left
- I hate this
- made it onto the main road along the beach (Promenade des Anglais), looks like we're going to be ok, the guys are still with me
- shit...crazy intersection...which lane should I be in, I'm lane splitting...need to get over to right lane, didn't look over my shoulder, almost get taken out by a car (I watched from behind - he was soooo close to getting slammed by the car it was terrifying - Ken)
- that was close, guy is pissed off (sorry), I think he gave me the finger, but not sure, or was it an Italian hand gesture?
- finally heading down the right road, hotel should be in sight soon
- shit...think I've lost the guys...pull over to wait
- here they come, need to pull out into traffic without getting crushed by traffic
- back on the way...there's the hotel, make a u-turn at that intersection...we've arrived...thank you Google street view!
- hotel porter gives me a look..."Monsieur, jue halve de de move le moto"...yeah, right...do you know what it's like out there?! I explain we're checking in


The Radisson Blu hotel was located directly on the Promenade des Anglais, the main road along the beach. I was able to use hotel points for both our rooms for 2 nights instead of each of us paying $300/per night. We got the bikes locked up in the underground garage, dumped our stuff in the rooms, and I headed up to the pool for a swim to cool off. What a magnificent hotel!

We decided to pass on the $20 hamburgers at the pool (but not the $10 beers) and go for a walk to look for dinner. Nothing really on the beach-side of the hotel, so we head away one street from the beach. What a difference one street makes - most of the shops are very run-down, trash in the streets, grafitti, etc. We find an Italian place still open and have a mediocre dinner before walking back along the beach to the hotel.

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Rooftop pool overlooking the Mediterranean sea.  This doesn't suck.

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The beaches of Nice are very rocky

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High roller

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One street off the beach things look very different

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Citroen Traction Avant -Cool looking car

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Nighttime on the Mediterranean
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:26:45 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2013, 01:46:27 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/08, Relaxing in Nice

 I had picked the French Riviera as the place for our down day. Someplace I've always heard of and didn't think I could ever get to visit. But since we would be so close, and I could make a hotel work on points, it seemed a great idea. I had visions of a warm summer day spent sitting on the beach and swimming in the sea, and watching the "beautiful people". The reality didn't match the fantasy though - it wasn't warm enough to really enjoy sitting on the beach, the water was way too cold for a swim, the beach itself was just rocks, and there were no beautiful people to be found.

We instead spent the day sightseeing the main part of town and walking/bicycling the Promenade. I did a little more swimming in the rooftop pool but it was too windy and chilly to really enjoy it.

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Walking down the Promenade

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FJR police bikes

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There was a Citroen 2CV rally rolling through town in the morning

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There were a lot of private beach clubs where you pay around 15 euro for a chair for the day.

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Some people were having fun in the water

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There were a few people on the beach

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What was this ugly little spud?

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Food market in the center of town

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Some funky lookin' tomatoes

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The very cute soap lady

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The touristy part of town was filled with these very narrow winding streets of shops and restaurants

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Now, where did I park my yacht?

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Looking back up the beach

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Beach

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My rent-a-bike on the Promenade

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There were several wedding (?) processions on the main drag

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This guy did not like my camera

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Pricey hamburger back at the hotel - about $23, from the "Le Snacking" section of the menu

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You're definitely paying for the view

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It was...OK.

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Not impressed with their bread pre-delivery storage systen

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iPhone pano from rooftop restaurant (the road is pretty much straight, the pano warps everything to fit)

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The Radisson Blu's private beach club

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I was expecting a lot more cool cars in Nice, but they were few and far between

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Forgive the blurry shot

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Stunning night-time view from the roof

Tomorrow we are back on the bikes riding some of the best roads of the trip :-)

« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:27:00 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2013, 01:47:47 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/09, Nice to Briancon, Part One

We got a nice early start out of Nice so we could take our time getting to Briancon. Peter had planned a great route over high passes, but of course none of them were open yet. He did a great job putting together another low-land route on short notice. We did have a heck of a time actually clearing Nice though, as we got off at the wrong exit that put us through a toll booth. Once through (and it takes a while with 3 bikes trying to use combinations of euros and credit cards) we had to u-turn and go back through.

Outside of Nice the road was an uneventful country ride as we worked our way closer to the canyons. North of the city M6202 (Route de Grenoble) becomes D6202 (Route des Alpes).

We stopped for breakfast under the neat looking town of Touet-sur-Var. We were hoping to find a gas station in town but there weren't any.

After brekfast we headed north on D28 to Beuil, and the road started to get very interesting. Once we got to these more interesting canyon roads, of course, it started to rain. The road was slick in places with red clay/dirt from the towering canyon walls, and the perfect place for Quattro Audis to scoot by us. D28 heads west through Gorges du Cians, which was a gorgeous red-rock canyon with huge dropoffs and a sinewy road perched high up on the hill. Coming around a blind left-hander I was greeted with quite the surprise, as the road was almost totally blocked by a recent rockfall. There was enough room to get the bike through, and perhaps a skinny car would weave through as well. I was reminded of comedian Jimmy Carr's appearance on Top Gear.

"The most ridiculous sign, I think, is Beware of Falling Rocks. What exactly am I supposed to do with that information? You might as well have a sign that says 'Life's a Lottery - Be Lucky'."

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Breakfast stop

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Road getting more interesting after breakfast

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Looking back on D28

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D28 was gorgeous but very wet

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Crosstourer on D28

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Looking back at was was hiding around a blind left. Fun.

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Peter coming through the debris

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Big drop if it goes wrong

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What a great road

After the canyon sections on D28 we got to the (relatively) big town of Guillaumes only to find the one gas station closed. Not only closed, but with a sign saying something like 'Next Gas 60 kms' pointing the way we were going. Seeing that the range readout on the Crosstourer was reading about 15kms less than that I was getting concerned. Dave was not running as low as I was, but was down to 2 bars or so. Peter's route north showed a couple more towns before we got to Col de la Cayolle, which we needed to get over.

Of course as we rolled through those towns there was no gas. We got to the southern entrace to Col de la Cayolle and stopped to assess our situation. I was showing 20kms to empty, and the town most likely to have gas was over 25 kms away - on the other side of the pass. We stopped a car going by and did our best pantomime to ask for nearby gas and even though he spoke no English his reactions made it clear there was no gas within 10 kms.

We decided to press on over the pass and hope for the best. The southern ramp up was pretty short so maybe the range wouldn't drop too badly before we reach the summit. I took the lead so if I ran out I wouldn't just get left behind. It was cold and rainy on the way up and I did my very best to be easy on the throttle. By the time we got to the to we were still 20 kms away from fuel, and I was showing 17kms left in the tank. And the rain had turned to snow.

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At the top of Col de la Cayolle

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Lovely day for a ride. Even a lovelier place to maybe run out of fuel.

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17kms left

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A toasty 3 degree celcius

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Down we go

I've never spent much time coasting on a motorcycle, but that's what I did for the majority of the long ride down the north ramp of Col de la Cayolle. Conserving momentum wherever possible and checking the range readout frequently I silently glided down the pass. Sometimes I had to had to brake to reel it in during a steep section, a lot of the time just maintaining speed on the shallow grades, and worrryingly having to give it throttle to get up a few inclines. It was a very different kind of concentration required, and a ride I won't soon forget.

I managed to earn back some range on the way down, but there was still the long, mostly-flat canyon section of the pass to get through. Nerve-wracking to say the least. After what seemed like an eternity we emerged from the pass and found the gas station in town. How much gas did I have left? Fuel capacity on the Crosstourer is 21.5 litres, and it took 21.1 at the pump.

We had lunch at the same place we ate last week when we passed through Barcelonette, and a sandwich and a beer never tasted better. Almost thawed out by the time we left, which was good because some of the best riding of the trip lay ahead.

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Specs for the Crosstourer

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21.1 liters. Pretty close.

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Tasted fantastic after a long stressful ride
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:27:18 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2013, 01:48:28 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/09, Nice to Briancon, Part Two

After a most satisfying lunch we headed north for a return trip of the Col de Vars. The rain had quit near the top and we stopped at the little cafe at the summit to shed some gear and pick up some pass stickers. The proprietor was very friendly and talkative - especially when he learned Peter was from Canada. We continue north to Guillestre, take D902 through Arvieux, which was very pretty, and then head over Col d'Izoard, which might just have been the very best pass of the trip. The ride up had a fantastic set of curves and hairpins through a forest, then nearer the top it opened up to something akin to a moonscape before becoming a typical snow-packed high pass.

I totally loved the forest section where I had a great time throwing the bike through the corners and around the hairpins (dialed back a bit due to wet roads, but also maybe feeling a little more daring having a bike with TCS).

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Another great canyon road in southern France

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Twisty goodness, would be more fun if it was dry

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I had no idea France would look like this

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A dam along the way to Col d'Izoard

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The water level when we were there

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Vew low compared to the sign

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Very pretty scenery on the way to Col d'Izoard

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Peter

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Great turn going up Col d'Izoard - full res pano available here

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Shame the road was still wet from the day's rain, but it was still a great ride

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Fog leant a nice mood to the ride up in places

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Pass awesomeness

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I could ride this all day

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The forest run opened up to this near the top of Col d'Izoard

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Very different kind of pass

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You can see the road across the way

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We weren't sure what that snowy section would be like once we got there

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Nice background

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Should have went with more depth-of-field...

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Continuing up

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Dave crossing the snowy section

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More snow near the top, but the road still rocked

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Dave nears the top of Col d'Izoard

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Peter comes next

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Just so many fun curves on this pass

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Final turn before the summit - full res pano available here

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Pass marker at the top of Col d'Izoard

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Dave crosses the summit

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Crosstourer at the summit

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Me at the top of Col d'Izoard - photo by Peter
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:27:43 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2013, 01:48:56 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/09, Nice to Briancon, Part Three

The ride down the north ramp of Col d'Izoard was almost as much fun as the ride up. The road started out with very dramatic sweepers with huge views, then descended into a forest with perfect turn after perfect turn. In a short straight between two of these perfect turns I passed a guy going downhill on a skateboard. Ok, I thought, pretty cool. A couple turns later I'm about to enter afairly tight left-hand hairpin when I see a bunch of guys hanging around the outside of the turn, and a dude with a tripod setup dead in the middle of the road obviously waiting to film the descending skateboarder. I pulled over and watched the guy come down before continuing down the pass.

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Indeed

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Pano of start of Col d'Izoard descent - full res version available here

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Another pano of Col d'Izoard descent - full res version available here

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The first turn on the descent - full res version available here

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The Descent

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Fun

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You can see quite a few turns from this viewpoint. The parked snowplow scared the crap out of Dave when he came around the bend.

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Watch that first turn

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Looking back from the turn above

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Dave heads down first

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Dave riding down Col d'Izoard

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Me getting the shot above of Dave (Peter's photo)

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Down he goes

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Dave grabbed this shot of me coming down the pass

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And one of Peter heeled over

We stayed at the same hotel in Briancon, and our hosts were happy to see us again. Since the on-site restaurant was closed early we walked into town for another well-deserved meal. Overall it was a fantastic day, from the fuel drama on Col de la Cayolle to the joy of Col d'Izoard.

Tomorrow we leave France behind on our way to Switzerland. Of course we can't go over the passes we planned to use since they are still closed. So it will be another ad-hoc route and hope for the best.

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Underground parking at the hotel. Last week we were the only bikes here.

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A clear toilet lid. Someone has a good sense of humour.

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The "pillow" in my room.

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Screenshot of website listing northern France Alps pass status. We would check this page every morning and evening, and sometimes during lunch. I think during our whole time in France 2 passes changed to Ouvert, and neither were on any of our routes.

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The southern pass status page
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:28:02 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2013, 01:49:27 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/10, Leaving France

Today we would be leaving France for Switzerland, with an overnight in Italy planned along the way. We had planned to ride the St. Bernard Pass, but of course it was closed. As were all the good routes we had planned from Val D'isir area over to Italy. This would also mean there was no good way to avoid something I really didn't want to do - a huge tunnel.

Ever since watching one of those "Engineering Disaster" shows about the Mont Blanc tunnel fire I put them in my "no thanks" list. I had no desire to spend 20 minutes riding through a deep dark hole under the mountain with questionable escape routes. While we wouldn't have to do that particular tunnel (thank goodness) we would have to endure a different, though even longer, one - the 13km long Fréjus Road Tunnel. Joy.

After breakfast and a quick stop at the walled town at the top of the town (didn't even get off the bikes, save for another day) we head north to Italian border. There was a nice picturesque road (D994G/D1T) where I was able to blow out the carbs quite nicely, then over Col De I'Echelle, and switchbacks descend into Bardonecchia, site of the 2006 Winter Olympics.

We gassed up and headed to main road (E70/T4) to find another toll plaza. 27 Euro toll! Oh, right, the big tunnel. Spent what seemed like an eternity droning through the mountain as the temperature rose and rose to almost stifling levels at the center. The 64 degree day at the entrance was an 88 degree sauna in the bowels of the Alps. You could feel the cool fresh air about 1km from the end, and it was glorious.

From the tunnel exit near Modane we continued north west to Abertville, then north east to Chamonix on really dull straight roads. Some highway, some 2-lane, but nothing interesting. And it was raining. Made a quick snack break at a supermarket and huddled under their slim outdoor awning to keep out of the rain while eating chocolate. Turning into a pretty grim day.

Stopped for a proper lunch in Chamonix which was a very busy but pretty town. Parked the bikes and walked the pedestrian-only center to find a decent restaurant. Nice view of a glacier hanging off the mountain.

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Best croissants in the world

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My bowl of hot tea

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Heading over Col De I'Echelle

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Pretty

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Pano of Col De I'Echelle - full-res available here

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Dave heads into the tunnel. You can see the switchbac he'll be riding just to the left

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A better view

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View from after the tunnel.

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iPhone pano

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Stopped for snacks. Sums up the middle of our ride that day.

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Decent beer selection in Chamonoix lunch stop

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Glacier hanging over Chamonix

After lunch we continued to our destination for the night, Martigne under sunny skies. The last bit of road descending to the town was fun with some switchbacks and tight turns, but it was over too quickly. We checked into the hotel (where I fell instantly in lust with the girl at the front desk, much to the amusement of Dave and Peter), rid the bikes of luggage and headed out again to see how far we could get up the closed St. Bernard pass.

This would be my first time really in the lead, as I had been responsible for the trip from Italy back. I didn't lay out any route for the rest of the day, just followed the sign to the pass and watched for interesting looking squiggly lines on the GPS.

Turned out we could actually get pretty far up the pass, and the road had some great twists and turns. Shortly after along open tunnel (gallery) the fun came to a stop where a gate barred further progress. It would have been quite easy to ride around the gate, but maybe it was too late in the day for hijinx. Detoured on the way down to follow a road up the side of the mountain that turned into quite the one-lane goatpath. I loved it, Dave not so much (just wait to see what trouble I get him in tomorrow). After the goat path we briefly returned to the St. Bernard road before another detour prompted by the GPS map's promise of twisties. This one didn't disappoint at all, a near constant set of switchbacks rising steeply up the mountain with only a little traffic. A good deal of the cars we came across also seemed to be doing this road just for the fun of it.

Walked to Italian restaurant (or should it just be 'restaurant' since we're in Italy?) after dropping the bikes off in the underground garage at the hotel. Tomorrow will take us to the awesome roads around Andermatt, or at least the portions we can ride that are open.

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Viewpoint over Martigny

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The road coming down to Martigny was fun, but too short

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The end of the road on St. Bernard Pass.

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Coming back down St. Bernard. Fun road.

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St. Bernard

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St. Bernard

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Goat path off of St. Bernard Pass

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Dave on the goat path - not loving it

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Goat path switchback

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Nice Lotus Esprit outside the hotel

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The view outside my room in Martigny

« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:28:17 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2013, 01:49:53 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/11, Andermatt Revisited, Part One

What do they say about "best laid plans"? I was responsible for the days of riding around Andermatt, and considered it a slam-dunk since A) I'd been there before in 2009, and B) you can't go wrong - the town is literally surrounded by fabulous high passes. I had thrown together an "Andermatt Grand Circle" route that would take in St. Gotthard Pass, Nufenpass, Oberalppass, Furkapass, Grimselpass and a few others. Nearly every turn of the wheel for a whole day would be in Swiss pass heaven.

I did not count on the fact that since we were there a little early in the season nearly every one of those passes would be closed. Including, and perhaps most importantly, Furka, which I needed in order to actually GET TO Andermatt from the west.

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The picture above shows the pass status the day we left Martigny. Every pass west of Andermatt is closed.

Faced with this I had to plan a huge loop to the north via Bern and Lucerne that would eventually head allow us to drop down via Wassen into Andermatt. This would double the distance and take place almost entirely on the motorway - which would suck. Fortunately while researching the pass options I came across something called the "Furka Car Train". Apparantly there's a train you can load your car (or bike!) onto that goes under the mountain from Oberwald to Realp. I plotted a pretty-much-straight route to the train station and we had a pleasant ride east, about half on the E62 motorway and half on 2-lane 19. We had considered a side trip up to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn but ultimately didn't think it would be worth the time for just a "yup, there's a mountain" stop.

We got to the station in Oberwald just as one was leaving, but another was due shortly so no big deal. Of course the next train turned out to be quite late, which was surprising for the Swiss.

Thankfully there were other bikes in front of us whom we could follow onto the train. None of had a clue how loading a train would work.

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Waiting for the train in Oberalp

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Here comes the train

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Car unloading off the train

So the train pull in, and there's a flatbed-type car followed by a lot of open cattle-car carraiges. We're guessing we'll just ride the bikes onto the flatbed and ride to the end of the cattle cars. Wrong, wrong, wrong. What we had to do was ride onto the flatbed, then off the bike and walk it back INTO the red car you see in the shot above. And quickly, because there are bikes behind you wanting you to get on with it. The auto-closing door (which was the width of a GIVI-ladened adventure bike + .001") added a lot of excitement to the proceeding as well. I was having a helluva time walking the beastly Crosstourer backwards on the train, but fortunately everyone helps each other out and before I knew it some of the bikers who had gone on already were assisting me hauling it in.

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Whew. Finally aboard.

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Dave strikes up a conversation with some guys who can't recommend riding in Sardinia enough

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Dave waiting his turn

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Can't say enough how much fun those automatic doors were

The bikes moved around a lot during the ride and getting them off was only slightly less crazy then getting them on - at least you could ride the bike out.

It was a short but pretty ride from Realp down to Andermatt but we did get stuck at a construction site around the traffic circle for a while. Some of the other bikes were finding ways through that I didn't think possible, even by European standards. Sidewalks, front yards, you name it was fair game. We checked into our hotel which was walking distance from the "center" of town. Actually, I think everyplace in Andermatt is walking distance from anyplace else in town. We grabbed a delicious lunch at the Hotel Metropol and headed to one of the only actual open passes, St. Gotthard.

Now I had been hoping to take the old St. Gotthard pass up to (or down from) the summit, the one that's still paved with cobblestones, but - of course - it was closed due to snow. The new version of the pass is a fast and fun ride to the top so I wasn't too disappointed. We stopped at the top for a little while to take in the gorgeous views. While crusing the enormous parking lot I found what appeared to be a smaller road, maybe one car-width, heading into the mountains surrounded by lots of snow. Perhaps this was the old pass road? I started along the road, while Dave and Peter waited to see if I would be back in a minute.

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The gas station on the south edge of Andermatt, which also appeared in Goldfinger

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Scenic St. Gotthard pass

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Cool Caterham 7

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No shortage of snow up here

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Surely that's a road, right?

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Here goes nothing
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:28:33 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2013, 01:50:49 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/11, Andermatt Revisited, Part Two

I don't get too far before the road gets even narrower, or feels narrower because of the walls of snow on every side. I stop (no place to really 'pull over') to take some pictures, and another motorcycle goes by giving me a little more confidence that we're on a road. Of course he could be goofing around as well. Eventually Dave and Peter arrive in turn, and we discuss continuing to explore this little goat path. Dave is convinced (and may well be right) that this is a bicycle path and not meant for motor vehicles. I'm way too excited by the prospect of a deserted little snake of a road heading down the mountain to heed this caution though. I go on ahead.

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Waiting for Dave and Peter to start on the "road"

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Thus guy made me feel better about what we were doing

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Surely this is a road. Right?

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Here comes Dave

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Dave gets closer

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Dave is not so convinced this is a good idea

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Doing a little sightseeing

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Along comes Peter

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Peter. Closer.

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Peter's ready to continue exploring

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Snow's getting pretty high

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Dave still thinks this is a bad idea

I don't think I made it another kilometer before I come across the biker who went past me earler. He's in the middle of a snow/ice patch that covers the width of the road on a hairpin, spinning the rear like crazy trying (with no luck) to get some traction. After a minute or so of the bike slewing back and forth the inevitable happens and he loses whatever control he had and the bike tumbles onto it's side. He gets up, I help him right the bike, and he hops on and tries again. Determined fellow. Another minute or so and it becomes obvious to him that he can't do it so he gives up. He parks the bike and starts walking ahead, I'm guessing to see if there's any point even trying to continue.

While all this was going on in front of me, there was also drama going on behind me. Maybe it was a touch of claustrophobia, but the walls of snow on both sides of the road, close enough to touch, was doing a number of Dave's nerves and on one of the super-tiny hairpins he put a handgrip into the snow and quickly found himself on the ground. No real harm done to himself or the bike, but he would be sore and bruised for days afterwards.

I had no intention of trying to muscle the Crosstourer across icy hairpins, DTC or no. And I knew the other guys would not be interested AT ALL. We headed back to the St. Gotthard pass parking lot, Dave with a big bruise on his side and me with a big grin on my face.

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An obstacle

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The other biker seeing how crazy this gets

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The end of the road (for us)

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Coming back

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The view on the return

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Me coming back

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Group self-portrait tricky

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Gorgeous E-Type at the top of the pass
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:28:46 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2013, 01:51:11 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/11, Andermatt Revisited, Part Three

After that little adventure we continue the ride down the south ramp of St. Gotthard, stopping along the way to get some pics of the amazing view over Airolo. While we were hanging out there a couple of fighter jets blasted by - below our spot. Very cool. We did a little walking around as the views were just stupendous at that spot.

We try once again to find a piece of the cobblestone "old" pass to ride, but only make it a couple of turns before yet again finding a gate blocking our way. At Airolo we take the road to Nufenpass - I know it's closed, but maybe only a little section at the very top is closed and we can have a great ride to finish out the day. The lower section of Nufenpass is very straight, but goes through a very pretty area and we were enjoying some spirited dashes knowing traffic would be ultra-low since the road was closed ahead. It was maybe 5 or 8 kms before we came to the gate, at which point we turned around and blasted back again.

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Enlisted a stranger to get a proper group photo of us

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Peter falling down to Airolo. You can see a gallery on the very bottom left, the start of Nufenpass on the very bottom right, and there's an airport in the top-middle that Jim took an interest in back in 2009. Must be quite interesting to fly down there.

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Long gallery way down there

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Me

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It's like a "making of" special

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Walking around

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Battlements?

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Dave riding down side road of St. Gotthard

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"Be there".  Indeed.

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Peter

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Odd place for a Cialis commercial

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Nufenpass 10.5km ahead

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But not today

After the non-ride up Nufenpass we headed back over St. Gotthard and back to Andermatt for dinner and to find the hotel. Stopped a bit for more pictures (as always). We walked around town for a while and ended up having dinner at the Metropol where we had lunch. Why mess with success? Great food, not terribly expensive. And Erdinger Weissbeir on the menu.

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The Swiss like to build these crazy hairpin extenders out in the sky

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Crazy

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Looking back down on the road to Nufenpass

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Crosstourer, sky road, Alps

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iPhone pano of sky road

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Coming back down St. Gotthard to Andermatt

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The road to Andermatt from St. Gotthard

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Dave riding into Andermatt

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The devil playing the flute

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The main road through Andermatt

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The river Reuss runs through the middle of Andermatt

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This bear is the symbol of Andermatt.

Tomorrow was supposed to be the "Grand Loop" day, flowing from pass to pass to pass. With most of the passes closed, there is no "loop" to do. More like a "hub and spoke", heading up passes to see how far we can get then head back.

I never suspected that one last on-a-whim pass would turn out to be one of the highlights of the trip, and one of my favorite passes of all time.

Stay tuned.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:29:02 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2013, 01:51:40 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/12, Andermatt, Part One

Our last full day of riding. Sigh. All the passes that were closed yesterday are still closed today. Sigh again. But we will endeavour to make the best of it!

We start the day by seeing how far we can get up Furkapass. Turns out we can get pretty far, and we are not alone in doing the up-and-back to the barrier. Furkapass is a great road with absolutely stunning Alpine scenery. Even though we could not cross the whole pass we thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

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The road to Furkapass

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VFR1200X on the road to Furkapass

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Dave coming up Furkapass

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Dave continues up Furka

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Forbidden fruit - this view was past the barrier

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iPhone pano of Furkapass

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Peter coming down Furka

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Furka is just a stunning road

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Peter coming down Furka

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And here comes Dave

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Just another curve on Furka

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Furka

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Crosstourer on Furka

After Furka we rode back through Andermatt and headed out Oberalp Pass on our way to Lukmanier Pass. I had not done Lukmanier before, and it was one of the few passes that was actually open so I was looking forward to it.

Oberalp is yet another beautiful pass with great turns and jaw-dropping views. It is a bit more heavily-trafficked than others as it's one of the main roads into Andermatt. Construction on the pass had us slowed for a bit but overall we had a great ride to Disentis.

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Topping off at 'Goldfinger Gas'

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Looking down Oberalp Pass

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And the bus for the win

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Crosstourer on Oberalp

Lukmanier was an odd pass. A scenic ascent, not stunning views but just pretty (for around here anyway), and not a lot of turns except for one short section at the beginning. We stopped for a snack at the visitor center at the top before heading down the other side. There were lots of pavement joints on the descent that were making the VFR shake it's head but I still had a blast on this section. We met up at the bottom and agree rather than taking main roads back to Andermatt (and completing any kind of loop for the day) we would just do the pass again and head back over Oberalp a second time as well. The run back to the top was spirited.

On the way down we made a brief detour to cross a dam that was accessible from the main road, then stopped in Disentis for some ice cream and a short rest.

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Visitor stop at the top of Lukmanier

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Top of the pass

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Lukmanier pass

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This Aston sounded great coming into the lot

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But the best thing was that he was driving with his young son in a car seat. What a lucky kid!

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On the dam

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Dave crossing the dam back to Lukmanier Pass

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You can see a long gallery on Lukmanier Pass on the right side of the photo

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Almost done with Lukmanier

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Dave and I waiting for Peter to come back from his sightseeing detour

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Apparantly the bar is in Mumpe Medel

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Ice cream break

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Not bad, not bad at all

After ice cream it was back on the road for a 2nd crossing of Oberalp. More traffic than earlier to deal with but in some ways that can be more fun. We stopped at the top this time since the snack bar/gift shop was open and took some more time to just savor our last day in this amazing place.

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Heading up Oberalp, looking back

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Going up

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One of the more fun sections of Oberalp

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Almost to the top

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Parking area at top of Oberalp

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Not a bad place to hang out for a bit

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There were a beautiful group of Guzzi's (is there any other kind?) at the summit

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Very nice

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GoPro

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The eyes say it all

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Nice Griso

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Oberalp looking down to Andermatt

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Pointing out the sights
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:29:18 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2013, 01:52:13 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/12, Andermatt, Part Two

Back in Andermatt we had a quick lunch before heading to another new-for-me pass, Susten. The main road north out of Andermatt is busy but super-curvy, and a fun little ride on our way to the pass. The ramp up Susten was uique, for the most part a straight-ish road clinging to the mountainside. It had some bends, but not really any of the hairpins or full-on turns of most other passes. This was a road that you could make some serious time on if you were so inclined.

Of course just when the road starts to get really interesting and the scenery extraordinary we get to the barrier. There was a small cafe at that spot, and a dozen or so other bikers hanging around - along with a pair of moto cops. We let them get a good head start before we headed back down the pass.

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Fun's over boys

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The view from the barrier location on Sustenpass

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Cafe on Sustenpass

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These guys must have serious skills after a while

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Peter on Sustenpass

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Looking back down Sustenpass

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Midway back down Sustenpass. You can see how this road is much less twisty than most around here

Not wanting to call it a day yet we decided to tackle one more new pass, Klausen. None of us had read up on the pass, but it looked twisty on the GPS and, most importantly, it was open. After joining the main road there was about a 1/2 hour ride north to Klausen, most of which I spent with those 2 motorcycle cops on my 6. Does not make for quick progress.

The turnoff for Klausen goes through the small town of Altdorf, where the road begins a series of hairpins through residential and commercial areas. There were tons of scooters in the town hauling ass up and down the hairpins which was fun to watch. After what seemed like a few miles the congestion started to fade and we began what I assume was the pass proper.

The west side of Klausen Pass was super narrow in places, definitely not enough room for 2 cars to pass. Hairpins, blind corners, tiny bridges, drop-offs, you name it this pass had it. It was pretty slow going up as the road was so twisted and narrow you couldn't really commit to anything - especially with the blind corners.

After a few miles of serious twisty climbing the road transformed into a hug-the-cliff narrow strip of tarmac with a HUGE dropoff on the other side of a flimsy pipe-rail. This was like nothing we had seen before - the sheer dropoff combined with the tiny road was pretty unsettling (at least to us newbies, some other groups of bikes had no such misgivings as they flew by).

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Cows!

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Me amidst the cows

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iPhone pano looking back on start of Klausen high section

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Dave's CBF1000 on Klausen

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Looking ahead on Klausen. The road had not started to get super-crazy yet. You can see 2 huge waterfalls on the right.

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Continuing up Klausen

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Peter coming up. Not sure how much safety that pipe-rail provides.

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Zoom

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Just starting to get interesting

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Dave on Klausen

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Looking back on a part of the 'ledge' section of Klausen

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Dave rides the ledge

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Peter holding up a few locals

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Someone slower than us!

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Cool

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The bike was working pretty hard to keep going up the pass

After the crazy 'ledge' section of the pass there were some traditional twisties and hairpins before you got to the summit. I scored some pass stickers at the little shop while I waited for the rest of the guys to arrive. It was proper cold at the top, and it was getting late, so we didn't hang around too long. Not wanting the adventure to be over we chose to see what the east ramp of the pass was like before doubling back and doing the crazy west side again.

The east side could not have been more different. Where the west had the ledge section, and crazy blind turns and narrow segments that were somwhat reminiscint of the best passes Italy had to offer (I'm thinking of you, Passo Gavia!), the east ramp was a perfect ribbon of flowing tarmac. Great hairpins, perfect pavement, clear sightlines, stunning views, you name it. We rode all the way to the bottom and couldn't wait to turn around and run back up.

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No shortage of snow at the top of Klausen

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Interesting variety of bikes coming up the pass

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Peter arrives

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Looking ahead to the descent to the east

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Beautiful VFR at the top of Klausenpass

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What a hoot this has to be on the pass

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Starting down the pass

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Fun ahead

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Going down...

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Me on Klausen. Peter took this from the roof of the building next to the 2 bikes in the picture just above.

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Dave heading down Klausen

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What a great, great ride down Klausen

As usual we regrouped at the top before continuing. Peter went ahead and Dave and I hung back for a while chatting. We figured we would catch up to Peter shortly as he'd likely be stopping for photos along the way. As it would turn out he didn't stop at all and got pretty far ahead on the pass - which would lead to a heart-stopping incident for Dave and I on the descent.

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Pass was wet in some sections

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Starting the descent of Klausenpass

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Dave starting down Klausen

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No idea what this structure is/was

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Getting overcast but still a beautiful sight

We were surprised we hadn't caught up to Peter yet, and as we were just clearing the narrow 'ledge' section we came across a group of bikes and cars pulled over on the side of one of the big dropoffs. As we rode by our thoughts turned to the worst, and going around the curve just passed them we saw guys climbing over the pipe-rail. Oh shit.

We immediately stopped in the road and looked over the rail. Fortunately it wasn't Peter, but sadly there was another bike and rider down the hill who had gone over (or under) the rail and off the road. The rider was on the ground not far from the road, and his bike was a ways further down the slope. Thankfully the rider was moving - not getting up, but alive. This was a section that was just a few yards from the huge-dropoff ledge area. If anyone had gone off on that section you wouldn't even be able to see them, let alone climb down and help.

There were obviously enough people around lending assistance so we didn't linger too long.

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Looking back at the scene of the accident. Just around that bend the dropoff is hundreds of feet instead of this gentle slope.

I spent the remainder of the ride down the pass in a very different mindset. We caught up to Peter further down the pass, and watched as an ambulance made it's way up to attend to the fallen rider. There were several cars going up as well, pushing their limits making a run to the top. One GTI in particular came at me around a blind corner hauling ass, his outside suspension fully compressed and tires howling.

The ride back to Andermatt was mostly uneventful until we got close to town - the St. Gotthard tunnel was closed, so they were diverting all traffic over the tiny twisting road into town. We sat for a while, filtered past some folks, sat again, etc. Got back into town just as darkness fell.

Overall this was a great day of riding, and Klausenpass especially was a fantastic find. It was sobering to come across the rider down, but still it was an amazing end to the day.

Tomorrow will be mostly just an Autobahn blast back to Landshut to return the bikes.

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Our regular dinner spot, the Monopol Hotel

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Cheers to another wonderful Alps trip
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:29:41 AM by kendenton »
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Re: Alps 2013 - Viva La France!
« Reply #22 on: November 16, 2013, 01:52:42 PM »
Alps 2013, 6/13, Returning the bikes

The route back to Landshut started with a nice early morning run over Oberalp, which is a great way to start the day. After that it was secondary roads to Chur, then several hours of Autobahn cruising/blasting. The Crosstourer was pretty comfortable up to about 115mph in the (not nearly frequent enough) unrestricted sections. It was a lot of fun at the end of the slower kmh zones repeatedly opening the taps and warping up to speed.  My 620 Multistrada is not well suited to that kind of activity.

Returning the bikes was as easy as last time - Hermann does not go over them with a fine tooth comb. I mentioned the loose front end to him but didn't really get a response. Got all our posessions transferred back to our suitcases and Hermann got us a cab to the airport.

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3,736km for the trip (plus about 50 before I remembered to set the odometer). That's 2,321 miles of Alpine goodness.

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Lined up and ready for inspection

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Emptying out

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I wish he rented this XJR...

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Lots of rental bikes

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Dave and Peter undoing their Scala headsets

Peter was going home the next morning, but Dave and I would continue our vacation for a few more days. Here's a teaser:

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Full report of the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya will be in a new thread
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:30:39 AM by kendenton »
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