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Well it started off not to well as I met Fred (XR Mad) near jct18 of the M4 and he showed me his new 'camelback', Bob say's 'oh bother' I knew I'd forgot something' so we headed back to Bristol to get my camelback which was waiting in my garage


Met the others in Bath and set off over Salisbury Plain where it was very dusty, then some nice back roads to here...

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'Why are you taking us across this field they say' 'because we can says I'

Down to the ferry at Portsmouth and after sorting our cabins for the overnight crossing it was off to the bar


Next morning we were up bright and early for a 350 mile ride to Montlucon, great roads and no issues and plenty of stops in the shade....

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We found the hotel without too much hassle and then went out for beer and grub. What we didn't know was that Montlucon turned out to be the Hen/Stag capital of France and in return for loose change some nice ladies gave us condoms and a kiss and a man dressed as a huge willy made our acquaintance :D

Next day we did a short sprint down the Autoroute before we got onto the good roads.......

Col de Mezihac

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We arrived at out next hotel in Guillestre in good time to find a German Shepherd guarding the entrance. In the mornings 'Alf' wasn't really into guarding duties......

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Guillestre...

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The next morning we shedded our luggage and went off for some trail-riding
and then I led them up a dead-end :clown:

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Tony took over and with the help of some local workers we found the way into the Risoul trails....

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Then we headed for 'le Grand Parpaillon' one of the best trails in this area....

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At the top of the trail is a tunnel built by some French generals when they used to fight with the Italians......


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The tunnel was guarded by a fearsome beastie behind one of the doors....



It's a Marmotte and I don't think he was to pleased to see us judging by the screeching he was making.

The surface of the tunnel in the middle was solid ice about 9-12 inches thick and I got myself stuck at one point but we all made it out in the end.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So after a dammed good soaking on our way back to the hotel me and Steve sussed a launderette to dry our clothes out and then we went for more beer


Next day we kitted up with the luggage as we were off again, this time going further south to a small village called la Brigue.

First stop was the Col de la Bonette which is the highest tarmac road in the alps.....

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Some of the guys walked further up to the summit but Fred and I stayed put to guard the bikes


We then backtracked slightly to take a trail that ran down the valley below and came out in St Dalmas le Selvage. Some more excellent roads took us to the small hamlet of Tour. We missed the trail that we wanted to take but ended up on a cracking backroad (D32) which took us to Utelle. There must have been a storm recently as the road was littered with rocks and gravel and it must have had at least 100 bends in less than 10 miles


Next we went up the Col de Turini which is the most famous stage of the Monte Carlo rallye. At the top we stopped in a hotel for some lunch and inside was full of memorabilia.

Next was a trail from the col down to Breil sur Roya which looked like the USA in parts.

Fred passing through....

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Then it was just a short hop up to la Brigue. Once we got there all we had to do was find the appartment which was to be our base for three days and it was good and bad news.

The bad bit was that it was three flights up which was knackering to haul your luggage up but the good news was that it was directly over a bar


After sorting out the sleeping arrangements (moving the snorers far way as possible) we sat in the bar and ogled the barmaid who Tony christened 'the madonna with the big boobies' (I'm sure Fred has photos).

I've only got a photo of Steve and the madonna has her back to me....

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Next morning we set off to ride what the germans call the LGKS. It is a 66kms trail that skirts the border of France/Italy with lots of elevations of well over 2000 meters.

After a bit of a faff trying to find the trail out of la Brigue we started up a steep trail with lots of loose stuff. Steve went down on his KTM but we all got up in the end to find out that there was a much easier route


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The LGKS was absolutely brilliant with all sorts of going and some pretty rocky stuff in places. We were in the clouds for some of the time but the scenery was spectacular......

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We had an Austrian guy join us for most of the trail on his fully-blinged BMW GS1200.....

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At one point the rocks got too much for him and he dumped his bike and smashed £400's worth of touratech lights. Nice guy though but a good job he was with us as I don't think he'd have picked up that BMW on his own


At the end was Fort Central which is one of four forts guarding the pass, me and Fred shot up the earth track to the fort and actually rode through the old barracks.......

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The others carried on down the main trail to stop at a cafe and we joined them soon after....

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After a nice coffee we set off down the Col de Tende which I think someone counted as 38 hairpins......

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It starts off as gravel and turns into tarmac about halfway down, once we were at the bottom Steve's phone kept going off. He thought it was a customer so ignored it but it turned out to be Deano who had dropped his Africa Twin at the top. Tony and Leigh went back up to assist him and all was well again.

Then it was back to la Brigue for more beer, pizza and ogling the madonna
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
OK,where were we. Oh yes, still in la Brigue.

The next day we decided to chill as we were a bit 'biked-out' after the previous days mega trail-ride.

We decided to leave our bike gear behind and just go for short ride in our 'civvies'. We took a leisurely ride for an hour over to a small French town called Sospel. Here we strolled around the market and looked at the sights in the old town....

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Why this building had a horse leaping out of the window I have no idea....

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For a small town the church in Sospel the chuch was very impressive.....

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After a spot of lunch we decided to beat a retreat as it looked like a storm was brewing but we managed to get back with only a few spots of rain.

Then we decided to have a walk around la Brigue as it had lots of small alleyways and interesting buildings....



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The castle......


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and the church.....


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We had tried nearly every pizza going by now so Deano (being a chef) had offered to cook us a meal this evening. He had been to the local butcher in the morning and got the leanest mince you'll ever eat as he fed a huge piece of rump steak through the mincer.

With a couple of bottles of local red wine we had a great spaghetti bolognese apart from Fred who had plain spaghetti with burgers and tomato ketchup


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While the bikes slept soundly around the fountain.......

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So the next morning we had to lug the luggage back down the three flights of stairs as we were off again, this time to Bardonecchia in Italy.

Once we were loaded we had a swift coffee in the bar before mounting our steeds, at this point with everyone watching (including the madonna) Fred pulled away and took one of his panniers clean off on a post


We could feel the laughter as we helped him out and then tried to set off again but this time Steve stalled his KTM and dropped the lot in front of everyone


Eventually we got away without anymore mishaps and before we got laughed out of town.

We headed up to the border with France and this time passed through the tunnel de Tende rather than over the col.....

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We made our way down to Caraglio as we wanted to go to the home of 'Boano'. Roberto Boano is an ex Paris-Dakar racer and builder of 'special' Africa Twins.

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We were made to feel very welcome and got to see his Dakar bikes, awards and special parts....

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and then the man himself came out to greet us....



From here we made our way up over the Colle di Sampeyre which was shrouded in low cloud.......

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Next it was back into France via the Col Agnel......

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From there we went up over the Col D'Izoard....

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and then down to Briancon for a McDonalds lunch. From Briancon it was a short ride in to Bardonecchia but then it was a faff to find our hotel as a lot of the roads were blocked because the Juventus football team were in town for pre-season training.
 

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So the next day was to be a day of trail-riding around Bardonecchia. First off was the climb up the Colomion which zig-zags up though woods before coming out on the ski slopes and up to the ski station.....

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Tony had noticed a dead-end trail going off the top of the Colomion called the Passo della Mullatierra (or the Millitary Pass in English). So we set off to have a looksee....

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This is the fort at the top, it must have been pretty grim if you were stationed up here....



and then it was back down again,

Tony....



Deano....



Leigh....



Steve.....



and Fred.....



After a break in the cafe by the ski station we went back down to the road via Beaulard. Then we set off for another dead-end trail in the Valle Argentera, most of the trail was just a blast alongside the river but then after a short climb we came out into this valley....

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As it was still hot the river looked very inviting so we had a little play in it......


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We were a bit hungry now so we had some lunch in Sestriere and then set off to ride the Assietta which is a glorious 13km trail. We got about a kilometer along the trail when a german guy coming towards us waved us down, he told us that the local police were further along the trail and were handing out fines for riding the trail on a prohibited day. It was lucky for us as he had copped a 100 euro fine


After quickly getting back down to the road we made our way up via another route to the Pian Dell'Alpe and the Colle della Finestre......

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Coming down the Finestre I managed to end up with no rear brake as I had boiled the brake fluid, that was a new experience for me and something I don't wish to repeat


After getting back to the hotel we did a bit of maintenace, showered, shaved and went down to the railway bar in Bardo to watch all the comings and goings of the bikes arriving for the Stella rally the next day.
 

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It was now Sunday so that was the day of the Stella Alpina Rally, the Stella is a meeting of motorcyclists from all over europe and beyond who on the 2nd Sunday in July every year meet up in Bardonecchia and attempt to ride up the Colle del Somellier to a height of 3009m.

The trail leading up the start was very dusty which was a good sign, I had never made it to the top before as fresh falls of snow had deafeated my previous attempts.

The start of the climb....

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The boys on the way up.....

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This is the point where you can collect and pay for your badge, the organiser decides the point that he considers is doable on a road bike.....

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From here most people attempt to go further and get up to the top, you can see the meeting point below.....

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Hurrah we made it too the top, there was a snow bank on the main track near the top but like most people we skirted around it to get there...

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This is the lake at the top, behind it is France.....

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On the way back down we stopped at the meeting point again for a chinwag. We saw most of the XRV crew here and these two.......



Bloody great effort by Nick to ride his combo down and to take it too the top especially as he's due for a major shoulder op


Tony tried riding his oufit.....

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From here it was back down to the hotel and mount the luggage again. At this point I said my goodbyes to the others as I had decided to go south and visit my inlaws in Napoli.

So it was with some trepidation that I set off on my own.......
 

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So I pointed the bike south and off I went. I joined onto the back of a bunch of Italians from Sestriere down to Pinerolo but they weren't hanging about and it made life interesting for me with knobblies and a full set off panniers, then across the Po valley which was very boring.

The road from Ceva down to the coast at Savona was awesome and it being a Sunday evening half of Italy were out on their bikes, it turned into a race track and you had to keep your wits about you.

At Savona everything slowed up as I was now hugging the coast and progress was very slow and dammed hot. By 9.00pm I'd had enough and tried to find a hotel but Italy was on holiday so it was a lot of 'no'. Eventually I got a room at Arenzano but I had to share my balcony with this dude.....

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He shows up much better under the camera flash but to the naked eye he was well camoflaged.

I had a restless night as it was bloody hot and the mozzies were out but after a nice breakfast I was on my way again. I continued on down the coast but it was slow progress as the road seemed to pass through every town and village rather than by-passing them.

Eventually I got to familiar countryside and got to my inlaws at 7.30pm. I hadn't told them I was coming and they got a bit of a shock when they returned in their car to find my bike parked outside. After a good nosh-up and plenty of wine I went to sleep only to be attacked by mozzies and the heat again.

Next morning I parked the bike in the shade and carried out some maintenance...

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Then in the afternoon I went up into the hills to visit my wife's cousin who is building this summer house.....

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and then I went further into the hills mainly to cool down, this is a village called Rocchetta e Croce......

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the next day it was even hotter so I just stayed in by the air-conditioning and chilled.

On thursday morning I got up early and after saying my goodbyes I set off for home. There was no way I was going back up that coast road so it was autostrade all the way through Italy for me. I made good progress and by 6.00pm I was into the Susa valley and approaching France. I decided to go over the Col de Mont Cenis rather than through the tunnel....

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The difference in temperature as I went over the top was amazing, I had to put another layer on and even had my heated grips on for a while


I passed through Modane and then past Fort du Sapey.....

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before finding a hotel in St Michel de Maurienne. I had a room for four all to myself so I spread out and tucked into the sandwiches that my mother-in-law had made me in the morning.

I had plenty of time to study my road atlas and decided to use 'N' and 'D' roads up though France the next day and see how far I could get.

I set off at 7.40am and made good progress before stopping for breakfast in a great spot by the Lac du Borget......

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More great roads followed and a great stop for an arse-ache break by the river Soane at Tournus.......

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Here I phoned Chris (Moon) and arranged to meet him at his workplace in Vermenton. It was great to finally meet Chris and we spent about an hour chinwagging and drinking coffee.

Here he is by the canal where he's based with the boats he maintains in the background......

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I pushed on further and further until I got to Arras at about 10.00pm. I phoned my wife and asked her to find out if I could get a night crossing from Calais to Dover. After getting a 'yes' I shot off towards Calais and had a fair wait on the dockside before getting the 03.20am crossing.

Here I am, the only bike on that crossing that morning.....

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Of course it was raining in Dover
so I donned my 'boil-in-the-bag' suit and headed for home. By time I got to Reading services I was shattered but a large coffee and a lean against a wall put me right for the final 85 miles.

I got home at 08.30am having done 1470 miles in two days and one hour and I'm still sleeping now
 

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ACE ! :thumbup:

I wish I was a Moob,I wish I was a Moob,I wish I was a Moob,I wish I was a Moob,Are we there yet ? I wish I was a Moob,I wish I was a Moob, Are we there yet ? Are we there yet ? I wish I was a ............... :) :) :)
 

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Should know better
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Great report there, really enjoyed reading that :thumbup:. Not envious at all, of course... :rolleyes:
 

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Good write up. Picking up a fully loaded GSA isn't fun unless you have your own personal hoist with you (J) :D
 

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inspiring write up and great photos bob

been to some of those cols on a 2-up trip on the weestrom

want to go back and have a bash at those big trail rides NOW

/Al
 

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Loved it Bob .....and i only live down the road from there !!!!! i gotta go
Phil
 

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You inspired me, Bob. I was planning a trip to Geneva, so I've decided to go that little bit further and do a Col or two into Italy. ;-)

Good report and love the pictures.
 

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Loved this report. Nice balance between forward planning and the unexpected adventure or two:thumbright:
 

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Another excellent RR Bob :cheers::cheers::cheers: - I've just got back from Italy and looks like I was about 10 days behind you on some of the Cols.

Gotta say......the LGKS is absolutely breathtaking (and a little bit scary in places) - I did it North to South starting on the North side of Tende, up to Fort Tabaurd to start.

Here's a decent photo of the road up from the tunnel at Tende that you did............and yes, I counted a total of 56 'Tournante'.............enough to make you dizzy

IMG1370-X3.jpg
 

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Brilliant report Bob, far more indepth than mine!
Crackin pics, good to see you guys in Bardo.

Take care mate and we'll see you on the road some time. ;)
 

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That without fear of contradiction is the best ride report I have ever read :thumbright:

Thanks Bob and his co stars :thumbleft: Next time can I come pleeeeeeese :D
 
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