Sunday, 20 November 2016

😊😊😊3 days in Liguria, Piedmonte, Savoie, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-De-Haute-Provence and Alpes-Mar.

Last year Roel and I had a good start reconning this beautiful area (and also did some "soil research").
Time to do a thourough follow up.

Due to unnecessary stuff like work and birthdays, the date kept moving out. Not really too late, but daylight is getting short. Temperatures are quickly below freezing at altitude. Rain can transform to snow.
23rd of September we pull the trigger: we go!

Last year we had the big Mazda CX-9 with its superb 3.7 litre V6 petrol engine.
However, this year, as true gentlemen, we go in style:

ThreepointsixlitreV8 dieselpower. Is the GS of the SUV's
With all the leather and serenity, it feels like an old fashioned gentlemen's club.
Too bad that Roel has forbidden any consumption of fine cigars and a good cognac.

On the way to our first stop we have solemnly promised each other to take it easy.
Get back home in one piece. No accidents. Relxed driving. No hurry.
On the French AutoRoute we practice:

7pm we arrive at Bourg-Saint-Maurice for our first lodgingaddress. We will sleep here the last night again. A nice French lady welcomes us and Roel is happy...until he sees the 2 large dogs accompanying her. Roel not happy, being afraid of al creatures not being humans.

Nice place to stay. Lots of cars, motorcycles and quads (for hiring) around. Real petrol family.


We start at 7am with breakfast. The sky is dark blue. I do see some clouds creeping over the mountainpeaks at the east. But what can you do?
We drive. And it is cold. It is freezing cold.
Driving up to Col D'Iséran is is really freezing.
We see the clouds rolling into the valley. We're lucky that on the pass it is still clear.

Hey....we don't have knobby tyres only for show.


Driving down on the other side it gets wet. Really wet.
We let Fort de la Turra and Lac Mont CĂ©nis, our next gravel tracks, slide.
Nothing to see as visibility is 30 meters.
And it's cold. And it's pouring down.
Wet and cold. Real fun on knobbies.

We decide to drive on to Oulx hoping the weather clear when we go up to Passo della Mulattiera.
A dead and track with a nice view (we hope).
And in the valley it does become more clear. Even some sun.

Due to the rain, the track is really slippery.
My GS's engine hesitates at this altitude. I think too much fuel due to a slightly too large fuel nozzle.

Some 20 vertical meters under the pas, from a plateau, the track gets narrow and very steep.
Being oldest and wisest :) I go up first.
Sliding and looking for traction I claw up the track.
The engine is really running poor and losing power. Traction is gone with the mud and rocks underneath.
I lose speed and come a stop....or not?

 With the front wheel brake locked and the rearwheel locked as well, I still glide backwards.


I start the engine and try to pull away. Forget it. No traction, despite the Pirelli MT21's.
I come to a stop again and again slide backwards.
No choice: I have to put the bike down towards the mountain.


Oilcooler bypass...check.
Cylinder head cover....check.
Taking a soil sample....check.
Roel comes to the rescue and we pull up the bike and roll it backwards to the plateau.
No real damage. No oozing liquids. We're good.
Big scratch on the windscreen though.
First battlescar is a fact.

We look at each other.
Skip the Mulatierra?
Roel, a bit older, a bit wiser, decides that enough is enough.
Let's do the right thing....right.
Now you know how Roel ticks...

He almost makes it to the pass.
But also he loses traction and keels over. Also with the 2nd and the 3rd try.
The I see him making gestures and incoherent noises.

His state-of-the-art Li-Ion battery is flat.
We can't roll the bike down (tto far) and it's still 5 meters up.
No choice, we push the damn bike up.
Sweating like a pig.

Roel suggest to use the less steep slope on the other side of the pass to start the G?S rolling in 2nd gear. I suggest we don't as if that doesn't work we can't push the bike back up agian. Roel agrees and he bumps down the slippery steep track, near misses my GS and gets the G/S started. Well done.

We drive down to Punta Colomion where a Rifugio is, to grab some food.
The Rifugio is open all day, but not today.

A bit further down we do find a nice spot.

Eat some ravioli and let the sweat dry on our backs.
The last part of the sandy track before we hit the tarmac is pretty steep.

We drive via Col D'Echelle towards the beautiful Izoard.

Obviously Roel first...
Then me...
We don't stop as we've been here several times.
We soldier on towards the Col D'Agnel, but not before we pay a visit to Col de Furfande.
We have no clue as to what we can expect.
But hey...gravel and 2500 meters high. We're game!

Not all that difficult. A bit steep and a bit rough neaar the top.
My GS is playing up again. Nothing I can do about that.

 Roel is happy!

Tough GS.

Doctor slow ...(but with a nice exhaust tune)

The view from the pass is just awesome.
Beautiful yet rough.

Roel takes a "goat track" to bypass an already steep hairpin.
Not on photo. Not on film. But Roel's no goat.
He escapes with only a scare.

Still full with the views we continue to the Agnel at a nice speed.

It becomes chilly while gaining altitude.
Fresh snow from the previous night.

We enter Italy and find a nice family hotel.
Nice clean room and inside parking for the bikes. Nice!

Dinner in the hotel doesn't give us choice stress:
We sit and get what's on today's menu.
7 courses. All good.

 Off to bed and no problem falling asleep.


Up at 7am, breakfast, and GO!

After the Mulatierra exercise, an easy and relaxed day awaits us.
The sky is like looking a the inside of a dark blue bowl that's been put over us. Lovely.
No cloud. Nothing. Just blue and more blue. But cold again.

We decide to save the Colle del Prete and Gilba for a next time.
We exit Sampyere and drive up to the col with the same name.

Halfway up...

On the Col de Sampeyre it is quiet. You can have that on most Sunday mornings at 8am.

The view is always rewarding . Even after 3 times being here.

Tarmac intersects gravel from the Varaita Maira Kammstrasse.
Last year we had to skip the Colle Della Bicocca due to dusk.
Unfinished business so to speak. Which of course can't remain unfinished.

A muddy path leads to the the Bicocca.

The GS wags its tail.

The road ends here.
The view is magnificent.
The sun.
The misty valleys.

It is there and then that I realize that today is my birthday!
And what a lovely gift I've given myself

We drive back to Col de Sampyere to continue to The Maira Stura Kammstrasse.
Last year driving it in the fog. Today, we're really going to see it.
To get there, we are going via the Valone di Elva.

Roel likes to hang out with the jetset and wants his picture taken with Madonna...

It is very nice twisty drivers road.
Gravel on tarmac.
In short: a GS road.

Soon we arrive at the northside of the Maira Stura

The weather is absolutely gorgeous. The track is ours. And we're almost totally alone

Halfway is a spot to overlook both valleys.

We ride on.
The track is very wet and very muddy in many places as a result of last day's rain.
Last year I planned to do the Colle D'Ancoccia. Pretty tough according to Denzel.
We stop where the road forks to the Ancoccia and drive up the track.

And the going got very tough pretty damn straight away.
Steep but mainly very slippery.
Like there was 2 inches of wet mud on top of hard frozen rock.
Despite our knobbies we have almost no traction.

We reach a ruin of an old fortification.
Next is an even steeper muddier slope.
I've had my share. That's it for me.
Guess who wants to have a go at it.

We do something we should not have done: we split up.
Roel continues on and I slide back down. We will meet a few kilometers where thre tracks join.

Not wise, but all ends well. Youthfull stupidity...

Having scaled the first part, Roel waves that all is well and almost slides on his bum. That slippery.

Back home I read that the Ancoccia is nearly undoable after rain....right.

We drive down to Demonte.

The youngster has a break at Rifugio Carbonetto.

Next is Coletto di Laus, where we find out that the track has been closed for cars and motorcycles. We turn around to drive up to the Col de Lombarde. Everybody drives the tarmac.

We do the old gravel pass road.

You can se the pass from here high above us.
The gravel road is steep with fist size "gravel".
But wide enough to not be a major problem.

At the pass we have a bit of a look around.

We drive down into France. Just below Isola2000 we witness a nasty one sided accident with a motorcycle. The driver is lying on the rocks next to the road.
Not going into details but it was grisly.
Help is on the way (we see an old ambulance lumbering up the mountain after we've been 15 minutes driving down....).
We continue onwards.
But the image stays on my retina for quiet some time...

We drive to Col de la Bonette. Where everybody sticks to the D64 in Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée, we choose to go to the Col D'Anelle and the Col de la Moutiere. The Col de la Bonette towers to the east above us.

We can choose to drive gravel to Bayasse or gravel to Col de Restefond and show our 2 valve Beemers the Cime de la Bonette. We do the latter.

Plenty of people coming over for a look at the old bikes. Always nice.

Best quote: "I don't like BMW but these bikes are brutal"

Driving down we arrive in Jausiers.
It's "only" 6.30pm. 30 minutes til dusk sets in.

We drive to Barcelonette and find ourselves a nice hotel (Azteca).

After devouring a pizza it's off to bed.


Breakfast at 7am. Still dark but with a sliver of sun peeking at the horizon.
Tarmac takes us to La Condamine-ChĂątelard.
The South-East entry to the Col du Parpaillion.
Driven it a few times before, but is so beautiful.
Wins hands down from the Col de Vars which is the tarmac alternative.

Some gravel veterans will recognize the start of the gravel track:

The South-Side is steeper and stonier side of the Parpaillion.
I like the rough side better.
I've now driven the Parpaillion on the R1200GSA, the KTM690EnduroR and now with the R100GS.

Of course Roel is way ahead of me.
I cross my fingers and do a small prayer that he'll behave.
It seems to work.

Maybe, just maybe, he's getting wiser with the years as well....

A nice rough patch of the track.

Mmm. Something wrong with Roel's G/S kickstand I guess... :)

I drive on while Roel shoot some pictures.
Oooh....a nice spot for my GS to snap some pics as well.

Shooting the last pic, Roel drives by.

Nice sound. And you can see the power of the Edelweis tuned engine.
And of course Roel is a big show-off.

Last part to the tunnel which is there way sooner than I remember from previous years.


Very quiet.
It's only 10 past 9.
And Monday morning :)


The North ramp is way wider and smoother.
Last year, Roel went off track. That turned out to be prtetty tough.

You can hear me asking if he's going to do that again....guess what his answer is. Ha!

Relaxed, we roll down the Parpaillion.

Roel has to adjust something on his mirror.
Or handlebar.
That's Roel: if it ain't broken, fix it anyway.

Instead of going down to the village of Embrun, we follow the gravel track to Col de Valbelle.
Quick to ride gravel through the forest which arrives after some hairpins at the Col which is situated in a skiing area. Not the prettiests of landscapes.

We want to go to L'Alpe de Clot. The track clearly goes North.
I thought I new better because I saw a building up on the mountain to the East.
Not to the North....
Needless to say we went East.

First smooth uphill.
No sweat.
Turn a corner to the right and holy scaling a wall.
But we're tough.

So hit the gas!
Me in the lead.

Really really steep.

And muddy.
My GS wags its tail, going really really wide. 

Halfway I nearly lose the backside and go off track onto the grass.
Steering back to the track I have to jump a trench like a meter and a half deep and just as wide.

Or brake.

Which will see me upside down in the same trench.
OK. Hit the gas, pull on the handlebars and Big Bertha jumps.
Like a damn huge elephant, but she jumps and gets me safely accross.


Last part of the track with spinning rear tyre. But I get there.
Standing there Roel nearly puts his knobbies into me.

Always fun with Roel.

That was crazy...but awesome :)

Mmmm. Doesn't look like Alpe de Clot...

WTF. I read: "Le ForĂȘt Blanche".
Damn. We just rode up a black or red ski slope.

On the topomap is shows that we went up 140 vertical meters in 200 horizontal meters.

And that, boys and girls, is , is 70% incline or a 46 degree :)

A pic from the internet to show how steep (as it does not show on the clip, other than that we were driving straight into the 1pm).

Via a nice blue slope we drive back to the Vabelle and the down to Risoul to grab lunch.We agree that the Defender is also a cool machine.

Via Guillestre we drive to Saint-Crépin from where we want to drive up the gravel track to the Col de Lauzet.

It's a nice track. Quiet.

Big rocks.
That's what we're here for.

Roel takes point. Nice speed. No racing.
He turns into a corner and I lose sight of him because of the bend.

I come out of the corner....and WTF?
Roel on the ground. The G/S on top of him facing to me.
Bloody hell!

I jump of my GS and lift Roel's G/S.
He's OK. Nothing broken. Nothing sprained.
But he'll be black and blue in a day ar two, falling on a rocky gravel track like this.

What happened?
A wire accross the track, to keep cattle from going down, is the culprit.

The damage to Roel's bike is really enormous.

On of the handlebar clamp bolts has sheered off completely.

 Right handlebar buttons are toast.

 The throttlecable is nearly torn and hangs.

The right side valve cover has huge hole in it and grit is under the valve springs and inside the pushrod canals.

The whole headlightunit is in pieces all over the track.

All wiring has been torn.

What to do?
Accept that one of us has to spend like 6 hours getting the car and trailer and the trip being over?

"NO" says Roel. We'll clean this baby up and get her driving again!
Now that's the spirit!

And I trust, no, know him to do it.

Damage pics:

Luckily, I took a valve cover spare as I know my round ones are weak. That's luck!
We've got tie-wraps. We've got ducttape. Roel swaps a RAM mount bolt for a rear sub frame bolt which he than again uses for the handlebar clamp. Need all 4 bolts there.
With lots more of inventiveness and a lots of Knowledge (capital "K"), Roel gets her up and running again.

Almost 3 hours later

It is 4.30pm.

Some 270 kilometer separate us from our endpoint where we also started from, 3 days ago.
Not just your average run-of-the-mill kilometers.

The Lautaret, The Galibier, The TĂ©legraphe and the Madeleine are to be done.
That means riding in the dark.
With 30 years headlight units resembling glowworms....
Incredibly, Roels headlight unit still functions.

Roel's G/S runs like an old tractor, totally out of sync due to elongation of the throttle cable.

Starting the engine has to be done "car theft style": pushing 2 naked wires together to engage the starter. But it works!

And to make it into a truely perfect memorable day, a rainfront sets in from the east. Great...

Make my day....

And off we go. And we really go!

Ghastly weather on the Galibier.

Over the TĂ©legraphe.
Daylight fades...
Up the Col de Madeleine. Byond twilight.
Down the Madeleine. Daylight fades....

Still doable....

And soon thereafter....dark.

Driving Alpine passes in the dark. Yippieee...!
And it's really f*cking dark.
No lights.
No moon.
A bit wet on the road.
No refectors on the side of the road.
Every hairpin an adventure.

No houses. The Madeleine has a very long north ramp.

To further increase the excitement and anxiety, Roel decided earlier on not filling up on petrol.

On reserve left side......on reserve right side.
Some 2 liters left.
Great fun our Roel.

Then civilization comes into view again.
We find a petrolstation and we fill up.
And there's a pizzabus.
We eat pizza. The most groce pizza of all time. But still good under the circumstances.

Half an hour later we're "home".
The worried landlady is relieved we're in.

We are somewhat tired.
We have to push on to get the bikes on the trailer.
Early start tomorrow.

Falling asleep is not difficult at all....

More damage: Roel made the picture. I did not inspect further :)
I think I recognize the shape of the cylinder head cover.

Super roadtrip.
Good ending.

I loved it!

Roel & Peter
damage & repair is our game