• Tag Archives AlpineBiker
  • 136kms

    136kms, not really a very big number, and in fact there were times earlier this year when a ride of 136kms would have been considered just a warm up before mid-morning coffee, times when days of 600kms or more were the norm. It’s been an odd year though, and the long rides seem to have become fewer and fewer as the year has progressed, with an op at the end of July curtailing some end of summer rides, and rain ruining opportunities for far too many others. With less frequent weather windows, opportunities to ride need to be grabbed when they become available, so when an opportunity to ride finally presents itself, finding your BMW no longer has many functioning electrics, is definitely a pain in the backside.

    In mid-November the GT had its 70,000 service, and before it went in I had warned the garage that the left hand switchgear was playing up, but as it was working on the day it went in (sods law), they didn’t change it. Having not ridden much since then, and with sun and 13 degrees outside today, it was an unpleasant discovery to find that nothing operated from the left hand switchgear. No adjustable screen, no suspension adjustment, indicators, hazard warning lights, cruise control, or horn. I really didn’t want to miss what might be the last chance to ride this year, and this, coupled with the fact that I’ve recently moved and wanted to get out and explore some new roads, meant that the desire to ride soon proved too much to resist. Refusing to be beaten by BMW’s electrics, I figured that as the starter switch is on the right hand side and as the engine was running, I’d use hand signals for turns, so with this simple solution, I was able to grab the chance to take advantage of the sun while it was still warm enough to go out.

    Having studied the brand new map I’d recently bought, I quickly decided on which roads looked interesting, and set off. Riding on unknown roads and finding new places is one of biking’s pleasures. My new region has some fine chateaux, glorious countryside, plenty of lakes and woods, and best of all, it’s all new to me! Despite the sun, the roads were often damp under the trees, so surfaces varied between wet, damp, and bone dry. I had to concentrate hard to figure out where the grip was, in between enjoying the views, the buzzards in the trees, the hawk that flew across the road directly in front of me, and even finding a windmill! A bit of hard acceleration in 4th gear saw the rear slip quickly on a glacial looking piece of road, and there was a crest in the road that had an unexpected left hand kink immediately after it, but those were the only two small dramas of the ride.

    In the end, it may only have been 136kms, but I’d managed to get out and ride, rediscovered the joys of map reading and riding on unknown roads, explored new places, made mental notes of which roads and places to revisit, but most of all, had fun, and all regardless of the fact that 95% of the bikes electrics weren’t working.

    IMG_2282


  • Col de la Lombarde

    Sometimes a film and music just come together and I’m really pleased with the outcome of this edit. Riding the quiet and beautifully picturesque Col de La Lombarde in the direction of Isola 2000, this pass has been one of the highlights of the year. Enjoy.

     

    CLICK ON LINK TO VIEW

    Col de la Lombarde

     


  • Col de la Madeleine, Col du Glandon & Col de la Croix de Fer

    Ride reports are sometimes like London buses, sometimes nothing, then several come along at once. On a day where temperatures reached 33C, here’s the latest of my recent reports.

    I like to think I’ve ridden every major pass in Switzerland and a vast number of the French too, but checking the map I found a loop of 3 passes that I couldn’t recall riding. The first, the Col de la Madeleine I remember having attempted to ride, circa 2003 with my wife Sue, but we didn’t manage it as the pass was closed due to snow, in May, and it seems I didn’t go back and try again, so here was a start point, and with the Col du Glandon and Col de la Croix de Fer all in close proximity, there was a natural loop for the day.

    Always a good sign when you see a pass is actually open!


    A picture of the sign at the summit is irrefutable proof you’ve been there, here’s Sue at the top

    Lunch stop for the day, and judging from the voices around us there were as many Brits up here as French

    Nice in the shade til a sudden gust blew all the umbrellas over!

    Food beautifully presented

    Top left on the plate is foie gras and chocolate!

    Great scenery to admire

    Descent has great views but all too quickly you arrive at the first of several soon hit small towns and the road surface is variable at best. One interesting thing that happened was that as we entered a roundabout at the town at the bottom of the pass we were met by two gendarmes who were stopping the traffic at two entries, and getting drivers to take breath tests. When the female gendarme saw I’d got a full face helmet on, she obviously decided it wasn’t worth the 5 minute delay for me to take it off and blow into the bag so she waved me through, but the guy behind with an open face helmet wasn’t so lucky.  First time I’ve seen roadside breath tests though!

    Next pass of the day

    Beautiful scenery looking back

    Just in case you don’t know what pass you’re on the locals obligingly daub the name on the road for what seems like miles. Looks good on camera for the Tour de France I guess?

    Arriving at the summit

    I got talking to a Dutch guy who came over to talk to me after having seen my bike mounted film camera. We jointly agreed that the tar snakes (road repairs) were particularly slippery and we’d both experienced slides on the way up!

    The sign on the Glandon shows the Col de la Croix de Fer is only 2.5kms away. I can’t recall any cols, anywhere, where two summits are so close!.

    Not much variety in sign making, they all look the same!

    Some amazing scenery descending the Croix de Fer, I’m just mad at myself for leaving the camera at home and having only iphone pictures to post.

    I planned a route back past the Chateau du Miolans and down the Col de Leschaux, and here is where I’d like to add a warning tale to you all.

    During rides on any col you can’t help but be impressed by the number of people, young and old, whom will challenge themselves and their bodies to drag themselves up 2000m cols. As bikers sometimes we curse that they are mid bend and ride two abreast, but in the spirit of giving everyone a chance to enjoy the magnificent scenery and roads here, I always try to give them plenty of room. Sometimes however, they do the unexpected. I came across a group of riders from the same club spread over a km or two en route to the Col des Leschaux. With a clear road on the opposite side to overtake you’ll see from the picture that I’m practically straddling the white line as this guy turns round to either check where his friends are or because he’s heard the bikes engine.

    Seems at this point his balance and being clipped into his pedals is going to be an issue as he veers towards the middle of the road

    Taking avoiding action to swerve round him, look how close he got!

    So be careful out there fellow riders, it’s not just wild animals, birds and dozy drivers that are out to get you, cyclists can be just as dangerous a breed!

    Anyway, we had a great day, only 394kms but 6 hours 35 in the saddle.


  • Grand St Bernard to the Matterhorn (Breuil-Cervina)

    The weather! It seems that it’s impossible to write a ride report without remarking on it as it’s impacted on our riding so much this year.

    The previous weekend we had planned to go over the Grand St Bernard to lunch at Breuil-Cervina beneath the Matterhorn, but a landslide had closed the pass so we had had to make alternative plans. This weekend the pass was open, but the weather showed that the ever present rain that’s dogged this year was still about. Nevertheless, we decided that if we waited for a clear day we’d never go, so Sue and I agreed to meet Mark and Sev at 08.00 on Saturday. We hadn’t exactly agreed where to meet, but as we both needed petrol and had to pass the douane at Ferney Voltaire, chances were we would meet them at one of the other location, and sure enough they arrived at the petrol station as we were filling up.

    The sky started off overcast, and as we passed through and round Lausanne on the autoroute, it was clear that we were going to encounter rain fairly soon , and sure enough we did, enough to drive Mark off the motorway and into the nearest McDonalds for shelter. After a warm drink and Mark and Sev now in their waterproof oversuits, we set off again, and of course soon after, the weather started to clear, although as we climbed upwards towards the start of the Grand St Bernard we could see low lying clouds ahead. I don’t have any pictures of the ascent of the Grand St Bernard as they’d all be dull and cloudy, but once we ‘d crossed from Switzerland into Italy at the top of the pass and started to descend the Italian side, the weather completely changed, and although there was low cloud the sun was starting to shine through

     

    The road surface on the Italian side is fantastic, there are new barriers and plenty of new laybys to pull over and admire the views

    Bends we’ve descended already to the left and above, plenty to come going down to the right

    Wooded section nearing bottom

    In Aosta we stopped off at Moto America, a huge BMW, Ducati and Triumph dealer, and wandered round the showrooms admiring the bikes.

    The ride to Breuil Cervina is only one hour from Aosta. Passing through many small villages, today we were cursed with following camper vans and slow Italian drivers rather than the racier types you’d normally expect in Italy. The road climbs gently through the lower reaches before starting to climb more steeply with tighter and more interesting bends. I managed to get ahead of Mark at one stage and was amused when he rolled into Breuil Cervina later to hear he’s mistakenly followed another GT ride thinking it was me, until he had spotted the other bike had panniers fitted and mine didn’t! Passing the Lago Blau a couple of kms from the town, here is the view of the Matterhorn ahead.

    Matterhorn from restaurant

    Lunch was pasta and mushrooms, and whilst it tasted good there wasn’t much of it, and expecting a second helping which didn’t materialise, we were forced to have a desert to help fill our hungry stomachs. Declining coffees, we set off back the way we had come, back towards Aosta, and back over the Grand St Bernard. With excellent surfaces warmed by the sun it was time to let rip and enjoy the blast on strangely empty roads up to the summit

    Once over the top and back to the Swiss side however, it was back into the low level cloud.

    Water tower

    Mark posing

    Sev

    Sue and I

    Cloud looking back up the pass

    Not quite sure what this sign with Napoleon hat was supposed to portray, but there were a few of them

    Another water tower further down

    Once into the tunnels that mark the end of the pass, it was down towards Martigny, a stop off for petrol, and boring and windswept motorway back home. Final stats of 531kms and 7hours 01 in the saddle showed it was another big day, still can’t complain, if we’d have stayed at home based on the weather forecast, we wouldn’t have enjoyed ourselves!


  • A rainy July Sunday

     

    The plan was to ride over the Grand St Bernard to Aosta in Italy and onto Breuil-Cervina for lunch overlooking the Matterhorn. The weather forecast looked to be ok, and with Mark and Sev, Sue and I, Brian, Tim and David all saying they were coming, I was looking forward to a decent days ride.

    We planned to meet at 08.30-09.00 at La Cote services, and arriving there at 08.35 I saw Brians Panigale and Tims GS already parked up, and the twin headlights that had been gaining on us as we approached the services, turned out to be David and his recently purchased Triumph GT1050.

    I’d had a missed call from Tim before I left, and when we joined him and Brian in the restaurant upstairs, he asked me if I knew that the Grand St Bernard was closed due to a landslide? Some quick thinking and a couple of options thrown out to the guys, led to a decision being made to head to the Alps instead. Mark arrived sans Sev (who was feeling unwell) his customary 5 minutes late (he’ll claim 4), so we shared the new plan with him and we were off, 15 minutes later than planned, but hey, with the long nights these days we weren’t in a big rush.

    We stopped at Brig for the first of many petrol stops for Brian and his thirsty Panigale. It was amazing how much noise Brians bike makes! Inside the many tunnels en route the sound of the exhaust reverberated like a jackhammer and you could feel the vibrations though your body. It was so loud you couldn’t even hear your own bikes engine! How he managed to retain any sense of hearing after a day on it I’ll never know! Still, after a coffee and comfort stop at the adjacent McDonalds we were off again, through the quaintly named town of Bitsch, and into the start of the countryside leading to Gletsch and the mountains.

    The nearer we got to Gletsch the more variable the weather became. Roads were sometimes soaked from earlier showers, and from time to time we passed through others, a trend which was to repeat itself throughout the whole day. After a great run into Gletsch (always love that bit of road) it was up the 2431m Furkapass and a chance to enjoy some dry roads.

    Through paved tunnel

    View the other side looking forward to the Grimselpass

    I’d abdicated my usual leaders role for part of the day to film the others. I’ve 20+ films on Youtube featuring some great roads, but always with a forward facing camera and no other riders with me, so today was a chance to film something different.

    (The film will be posted on YouTube soon entitled “A rainy July Sunday”)

    Mark led part of the way until Brian decided to stretch the legs of his Pani and blasted past. Two up and on a bike weighing at least 100kgs more than his, I did my best to keep up and film. Stopping at the top after the usual brisk run up, it was then onwards towards Andermat and low level cloud and mist.

    Clouds ahead

    About to enter the clouds!

    The roads quickly became sodden, the drop offs suddenly more worrying, as visibility and speeds were reduced.

    Check the road dropping away to the right

    Time had marched on a little faster than I’d hoped, so we decided to have lunch at the Aurora hotel in Andermat, and were able to sit outside in the sun and relax for a while, hoping that the weather forecast Tim was looking at indicating more showers, would pass us by.

    Pictured left to right, Sue, Mark, Brian, Tim and David

    Out of Andermat then, through the tunnels down towards Wassen

    and the turn off for the 2324m Sustenpass.

    This pass is one of my all time favourites, but normally I ride it in the opposite direction, so today would make an interesting change, and its true, things seemed completely different.

    Stuck behind a group of Italians for a while, Brian David and I got past them leaving Mark and Tim stuck behind. As we got higher the roads suddenly became damp, and we hit the cloud/rain again.

    Brian was doing a good job leading, especially given his tyres don’t have much tread on the edges, but he at least had a rain mode and traction control to assist him.

    As we entered the tunnel at the top of the pass I decided now would be a good time to stop and don my waterproof top, as by now the rain was pretty heavy,

    Setting off a few minutes later after Tim and Mark had gone by, I passed David at the side of the road also putting his wet gear on.

    The lower slopes of the Susten which are so enjoyable going up were quite frankly a pain going down in the wet. Tight bends and wet roads don’t make for much fun, but once down in Innerkirchen the roads were drier and only moderately wet, as we set off towards Interlaken. A few kms before we got there, Brian came alongside indicating he needed petrol, so after dialling in a search for nearby petrol stations into the GPS, we dived off to the closest one 6kms away.

    After a few kms of main road we turned off towards Zweisimmen and some interesting cross country stuff, the best bit unfortunately spoiled by having to follow a couple of cars and a camper van. We turned off to join the 1509m Jaunpass where we stopped for a hot drink and the last stop of the day (except for Brian who needed yet another petrol stop again later!).

    Wet roads beckoned yet again as Mark led the group down towards Bulle and Gruyeres.

    Cross country towards Chateau D’Oex, and finally the rain had got to Brian. Clad in leather jacket and bike trousers rather than waterproofs, he’d braved the rain all day, but coming alongside at some traffic lights in heavy rain he forlornly asked “whats the quickest way out of here?”, and was clearly disappointed to be told “We’re going the quickest way”.

    The final pass of the day the 1445m Col des Mosses was probably a welcome sight for all as a wet and by now tiring group knew that at its end was Aigle and the autoroute home. Once on the autoroute Brian showed how keen he was to get home and he and I left the group as we headed back home, mindful of course of the many Swiss radars! Near Aubonne Tim turned off for home and Brian for yet another petrol stop. David parted company with Mark and I near the airport and we rode the final 5 kms home.

    Final stats were 635kms and 8 hours 02mins moving time.

    The day had been long, but we’d ridden several passes, got wet, but had fun. All in all not a bad day considering it wasn’t the route we were planning to ride. Just goes to show when the Alps are in your backyard there’s always somewhere to go!

    N.B   As it was so wet there was little chance to stop and take photos, so all bar two in this report are screen shots taken from film shot from my on bike camera


  • Hockenheim- Day 2

    Earlier this year, Marc and Andy had spent 3 days at Aragon circuit in Spain and both had had instruction from GP legend Simon Crafar. Having listened to how much they had enjoyed it and learnt, I was really keen to have a days instruction too. It was a happy co-incidence that he was going to be at Hockenheim during the days we’d booked in July, so I quickly tried to book, but found that Marc F had already booked him for both days for the group we were all riding in, which left Andy and I with little choice but to change groups if we wanted some instruction. Andy had no problem moving up a group, he’s pretty quick anyway, but I would have to drop a group and duke it out in the debutants/rookies group.

    We’d already met Simon the night before, and I have to say it would be harder to find a more likeable, humble, or better guy with whom to either spend time drinking a beer with, or to instruct you. After a short chat with him after the morning briefing about what form the instruction would take, it was back to the pitbox and wait for my first session.

    Unusual sight around the track over the two days was this guy making a promotional film in 3D for Suzuki

    Andy was first of the day for the mornings coaching

    Full of anticipation ( me not Simon), we readied for the off,

    but oh my god!, once out on track I started to wonder about what I’d done by dropping a group? The debutant/rookies was a seemingly huge mass of riders who seemed to share a common theme in not knowing where they were going, taking the weirdest lines ever, and generally being on every line on track you wanted, at the wrong time and going 20-30kph slower than we were!

    Overtaking continual groups of riders it was difficult to find the best flow, but following Simon’s lines, and clear hand signals for braking markers, apexes and when to accelerate harder, allowed me to ride faster than I’d managed the previous day. I had some good feedback back in the pits in a quick debrief, seems I’m doing ok, not afraid to “give it a go” in the corners, and he’s sure we’re going to have a good time and make progress, but that the size of the group and it’s general level of abilities is going to be an issue.

    Session 2, and we swop places several times as Simon continued to show me the lines, and amazingly is able to turn round on the bike and watch me facing backwards! Seeing his throttle hand off the bars pointing down to the right hand apex into the Mercedes complex section is amazing, how the hell does he manage that at these speeds?

    The only time the camera worked that day was when facing backwards, so here are some screen shots of Simon in action

    In the debrief I’m warned about diving down the inside of traffic at the end of the back straight, and told not to move around so much on the seat, and to try and stay on one side or the other, rather than constantly try and centralise myself. Additionally he tells me to be more aggressive on acceleration down the straight and to brake earlier before the hairpin at the end of it, which sacrifices speed into the corner for exit speed coming out. This quickly reaped rewards, as did his tip to accelerate briefly in the grandstand section before the start finish straight, which gives you a chance to accelerate harder down the straight.

    The groups dynamics continued to play havoc with lines and speed, constantly riders were on line going SO much slower than me, that I had problems holding my chosen line. I remember a guy on a BMW K1300S bimbling in the centre of the track, and having a small run on avoiding someone else elsewhere, and in one section of film, you can clearly see two groups of riders on total opposite sides of the track, how the hell they all crossed to the correct side without crashing into each other I’ll never know!

    Progress was still being made though, and despite the traffic, I’d already beaten my best ever time set there on my old ZX-10R. The real upside was that Simon was enabling me to ride quickly, but without the feeling it was fast, and they say if it doesn’t feel fast it is, and that was exactly what was happening, speed, but controlled and without “stress”, ACE!

    Andy who was also going great guns and enjoying his track time was listening to Simons feedback, and hearing that I’d already beaten my best time, in traffic, very generously offered to give up his place in the final session in his group, so that I could ride in a smaller and faster group to get some clear track.

    There was a small technical hitch in the afternoon the afternoon when fitting the tyre warmers led to a loud spark as the wiring in the plug had become twisted and shorted, tripping the breaker in the pitbox. Nothing too difficult to fix though, and a quick play with a screwdriver and 5 minutes saw the plug rewired and the warmers working again

    Full of confidence, I started the afternoon session in high spirits, the problem again being though, the speed of the others in the group. I was really trying into the left hander in front of the Mercedes grandstand but went in too hot and too deep. Seeing the rumble strip fast approaching I made what I instantly knew was a mistake, in going for the brakes. Whoa!!! The front end tucked instantly but instinct made me let go of the lever in a millisecond and I recovered it!

    Captured on Simons camera and subsequently added to Marc F’s film of the days riding, check out the tuck as it happened at the 11 minute 55 second mark. Click on link to view.

    Simon, who had seen the whole thing hung back as I got myself and thoughts back together and we returned to the pits where he slapped me on the back and told me what a great save it had been and that 9/10 riders would have dumped it!

    Once he was sure I was OK to go again we looked for a gap in the traffic and it was off again. I’d been “lucky” not to have crashed, but seems this afternoon I was riding my luck too hard. Into the Mobil1 curve a couple of laps later and I was carrying probably more speed than I had at any time over the two days, and suddenly there was another bike directly in front of me, on the racing line, but going SOOOO much slower than me I had nowhere to go. It was impossible to cut back underneath him, and no chance to go round him as he was drifting to the outside edge. With NO options, I straightened the bike up, hit the brakes and ran over the rumble strip. Unfortunately we had now passed the tarmac run off area, and all that was left in front of me was a very large gravel trap! I let off the brakes, and let the bike take it’s course. Initially I thought I could ride it out, speed seemed to be slowing, but then the rear started to fishtail, and having ridden it for as long as I could, I finally had to tip over as the gravel forced the wheels to a halt. As I lay there on my side with the bike on top of me, with my right leg trapped under it, I was aware of the marshals running over to me. It took two of them to lift the bike but once assured I was ok they sent me to rest behind the tyre wall. Unfortunately they couldn’t move the bike, so I returned to it, started it in first gear and inched it slowly out of the gravel, then when the session finished, over the track and back into the pitlane 30m away.

    For some reason I was only able to reach the end of the pitlane before the bike stopped and wouldn’t move at all. Andy and Marc came down to check I was ok, and Andy did his good Samaritan act for the day and wheeled the bike back to the pitbox for me, THANKS!

    I’ve ridden on track now for over 12 years, and incredibly this was my first proper off! I’ve run on loads of times but never actually been on the floor. Surprisingly too, I was quite calm and collected about it all. Not sure I would have been if it had been my old RC45, but I was ok, the bike seemed to run, there was no apparent damage other than cosmetic gravel rash, so I’d been lucky.

    Gravel everywhere

    For some reason Marc suggested I smile, here’s the somewhat demented looking result

    The real bummer though was that I missed the remaining two sessions with Simon, but it took a while to remove all the gravel from the multitude of places it managed to work its way into, and I guess it was sensible to stop and not go back out and perhaps over ride again?

    We had a debrief at the end of the days sessions where Simon ran though our films picking up a few pointers for us to work on.

    I take loads of pics for my blog, here Marc captures me taking yet another one!

    With the bikes on the trailer and ready for the homeward trek

    it’s time for an end of day/event photo with the ever accommodating Simon before the journey home.

    Here I am the next day with MotoVudu t-shirt

    and with signed and soon to be framed poster, great memories from a great day!

     

    Check out my blog post entitled ” A DAY WITH SIMON CRAFAR- COACHING AT HOCKENHEIM” for more details of this great days instruction

     


  • Hockenheim- Day 1

    The Hockenheimring in Germany, along with Donington Park in the UK, is one of my favourite circuits. One, because it’s a really fast track, but the other being that for a couple of years I used to live only 45 minutes from the circuit, and so was able to ride there frequently on some of the Thursday evening open nights they have, where for a paltry few euros you could enter the circuit and pay just €12 for a 20 minute session.

    Six years had now passed since my last ride there, and having previously ridden my RC45, GSXR1000 and ZX-10R there, I now wanted to go back and test my recently purchased R1. It didn’t take much persuasion to get our little group together to come with me, and so Mark C and Sev, Andy, myself and Marc F, set off for Germany. With earlier track days this year being something of a washout, we were all keeping fingers crossed for decent weather.

    Marc (L) and Andy after setting up in the pits

    The hotel was around 15 minutes from the circuit

    As the old proverb says, “red sky at night shepherds delight”, hopefully a sign of good weather to come the next day?

    Day one started with rain! This year is proving to be a pain for curtailed or damp days. Marc F had wet tyres so was able to ride and begin his instruction with Simon Crafar, Andy decided to opt out of his first session and change his slicks to wets, and Mark C and I decided to leave our slicks on and hope the weather changed for the better

    4 bikes standing waiting for a clear track

    Mark F’s S1000RR and Mark C’s R1

    Mark C and I waiting for the rain to stop

    Wet pitlane

    Here Marc F waits to exit pitlane alongside Simon Crafar

    And here in the grandstand section

    After sitting out our first session and viewing the track from the grandstand, it was clear that there was a drying line, so Mark and I decided it was time to go

    Mark C

    Waiting to go!

    Mark entering the corner at the end of the start finish straight

    Me in the same corner

    Andy ready for his first session

    And recovering in the pitbox later on!

    Sev on tyre cleaning duties prior to fitting tyre warmers

    Two sessions before lunch and we’re starting to get quicker

    Here I am (blue R1) chasing Mark who’s just in front, problem being the camera isn’t working recording our fun!

    In the afternoon sessions we had mega fun! I ran off track twice at the Mobil 1 curve, but luckily there is plenty of tarmac run off. The only spoiler for our fun being that the camera refused to work unless it was pointing backwards!

    Throughout the day several people managed to dump their bikes, but when the final session of the day was cancelled due to a crash and the helicopter ambulance being called, news soon  circulated of what sounded like an horrific crash, and we were to find out later that evening that the rider had tragically lost his life

    Mark C packed up and returned home with Sev whilst Marc F, Andy and I had the pleasure of having Simon Crafar join us for an evening meal in the picturesque town of Hockenheim

    Enjoying a beer with Simon Crafar (R)

    During one of Marc’s sessions during the day his petrol cap had flown off and doused him and Simon following him, in petrol. We got permission to go onto the track to look for it that evening, which saw us in the unique position of driving on a completely deserted track. Stopping roughly where the cap was thought to have fallen off, a quick 5 minute search in the grass amazingly saw Marc find it! Considering how small a cap is, he was extremely lucky to get it back!

    Here we are hunting for the fuel cap

    After the cap hunt, it was back to the hotel, sleep, and prepare for the next day, where I too was going to get instruction from Simon.

    The next blog post will tell the tales of an incident packed and memorable day, the tale of what it’s like to get quality instruction, improve times, riding in the wrong group, front end tucks and gravel traps, COMING SOON!


  • A tour- at last!

    First chance to get away this year as finally the weather showed as being clear and sunny for a couple of days

    Bike ready for an early off

    Chapel on island on the Lac de Serre Poncon near Savines le Lac

    Mark and Sev enjoying the bends

     

    After a swim to cool off in the Lac de St Croix, onto the hotel on the edge of the gorges in Verdon and a well deserved beer for me

    and a cup of tea for Sue

    Breakfast on the balcony and impressive early morning view of the gorge

    We changed plans and decided to return not via the Rousset, but via Italy and the Tende pass. Starting with a short run through the gorges to Castellane, before a great ride down the Route Napoleon to Grasse. After some GPS malfunctions we got back on track after taking the autoroute past Nice and up to Menton before joining the winding roads leading to Sospel for a lunch break with surprisingly good Thai food, and then onto Tende where we got held up at the tunnel for 15 minutes as traffic is only one way. Temperatures were soaring so we took the chance to get off the bike and rest for a short while.

    Turning off at the easily missed junction to the Col de Lombarde, we crossed the bridge and started the very tricky and small roads which mark the start of the climb.

    The pass itself is a real gem with some great scenery.

    Interesting to see an old guy and his wife on what looked like an old WW2 bike scaring the marmots away with its loud exhaust.

    After a drinks break at Isola 2000

    and admiring the ski runs

    we then headed on towards the Col de la Bonette and a great ride on almost empty roads to the top, once we had got past the herd of sheep being moved en masse on the lower slopes!

    At the summit

    From the Bonette to the Vars and onto my favourite hotel the Bon Logis in Risoul where the ever helpful and friendly hosts Sylvie and Bernard graciously served us our evening meal an hour after final service due to our late arrival! Many thanks to them both.

    Breakfast on the balcony the next morning with these amazing views which always impress!

    The day started with a very circumspect ride over the Izoard

    as the rear tyre on the GT was now toast and resembling a slick.

    Lack of grip and strange handling characteristics curbed my usual enthusiasm so it was a very gentle ascent and descent over to Briancon. Hot chocolate atop the Col du Lautaret