The Dolomites, July 2006
Up at around 6am on Thursday 6th July, ready for check-in on the IOM Steam Packet ferry at 6.45, with a 2.5 hour crossing to Liverpool
Motorway all the way down to Folkestone and the Channel Tunnel, stopping only for fuel as necessary. I got to the tunnel in plenty of time as there wasn't much traffic on the M25 this time (see my trip to Antibes) so I checked in for the next train, and rode down to the departure area (shops etc)
Eventually got called through to the train - bikes are held to last, so I had to filter to one side until all the cars had been loaded
I stayed the night at the Formule 1 hotel in Coquelles (by Calais) again, as it's very convenient for the tunnel
On Friday I set out for Dole, my next stop for that night, taking the Autoroutes down through France. Got to the Formule 1 eventually (signs half-hidden by foliage etc), unpacked and then wandered into town to find something to eat - not a quick walk that, at about 4km (2.5 miles) each way! I was a tad tired by the time I'd walked into town, found no restaurant I fancied and walked back to the hotel!
The following day (Saturday) I was off the highways (at last!) - I took the minor roads through Champagnole to the Swiss border at la Cure, taking in the Col de la Givrine on the way down to Nyons in Switzerland. In Nyon, a local biker stopped for a chat, and finding out that I had no real concrete plans for getting to Chur he recommended the Grimsel, Furka and Oberalp passes, pointing them out on my map
I then rode on the lakeshore road around Lake Geneva past Lausanne
until I found the minor road just past Aigle. I veered off up here, heading for Villars-sur-Orlon, Les Diablerets and Gstaad, via the Col de la Croix and Col du Pillon. I had a quick lunch in Gstaad, then continued on to Interlaken where, after a chat with a local (dragging my brain for schoolboy German - will come in handy later!), he recommended crossing between the lakes to take a minor road via Brienz to Meiringen as it would be slightly more interesting
As per the recommendations, I took the Grimsel, Furka and Oberalp passes (via Gletsch and Andermatt), then continuing on to the Ibis hotel in Chur
KTiM and Spanish Bob both turned up within about 30 minutes of me at the Ibis - couldn't have been planned better!
Once we'd all unpacked and cleaned up, we wandered off into Chur to find something to eat - unfortunately, by the time we'd reached the centre it was nearly 10pm, and virtually everywhere was shutting down their kitchens - we ended up at a pizzeria were a huge pizza and some red wine went down rather well!
The following morning was the last leg to Pieve di Cadore, so after breakfast at the Ibis we saddled up and hit the road. We took the 3 up to Landquart, then the 28 to Klosters and Davos. At Davos we veered off to take in the Flüelapass and the Ofenpass on the way to Sta Maria, where we picked up the Umbrail pass to the back of the Stelvio
At the top of the Stelvio, while eating lunch, Bob spotted a bike that he recognized - MIG's blue and white 1150GS. Michael came back to his bike and we stopped in the cafe for a coffee, then decided the route to take to get to Cadore
From the Stelvio we took the main road to Bolzano (or Bozen - this part of Italy was Austrian until the end of WWI when it was ceded to Italy as reparations), stopping part way along as it was very hot in the valley and we all needed a break
After Bolzano we took the Eggental and Costalunga passes, then the Pordoi pass and finally the Passo Cibiana before the last few kilometres to Pieve di Cadore
We arrived at the hotel just after the world cup final kicked off between France and Italy, so to say the porter wasn't happy that he had to check us in was a minor understatement! Still, I wouldn't have missed being in Italy when they won the world cup, the atmosphere was superb
Giorgio had to take ilMostro to the BMW dealer on Monday, so he gave the route to a mountain refuge for everyone else to take, and we then followed him down to Belluno and the Vittorio Veneto where we veered off for the Col Visentin rifugio. The road to the refuge started as tarmac, but turned into gravel about half-way up. The view from the top was superb (1764m or 5821ft), and the huge bowl of pasta was pretty good too!
I enjoyed myself coming down, my Dommie finally being in its element compared to the bigger bikes, and I got some nice small slides going as I used the back brake for the corners!
That night (Monday), Giorgio took us up to another mountain rifugio for the evening meal - a very narrow road that starts paved and ends up gravel
On Tuesday, Giorgio planned to take us through a couple of gravel tracks and to end up at the Lagazuoi tunnel system. The first gravel track and I had my first minor off - standing up, got to an uphill left corner and the back went around on me, dumping me on the gravel. Looking at my track, the rear tyre looked to have caught a tree root and that was that. Only damage was the gear lever being bent (as if the gear lever needed any encouragement!)
The offending corner
From here, we moved onto the Lagazuoi tunnels system. We hired helmets and torches at the bottom, and then took the cable car up to the summit, where we had lunch (at 2752m or 9082ft) and then we headed off for the tunnels.
Before we got to the tunnels, we had to walk along some of the mountainside and ridges
Then we hit the tunnels - very dark, low ceilings and slippery, almost never-ending steps. There were a few rooms that had been set up to replicate how they were used in WWI
Once we had exited the tunnel, we still had to walk down the remainder of the outside of the mountain, and boy was that hot work - especially in all the motorbike gear!
That night we went off for pizza at a "nearby" restaurant
On Wednesday, most of the crew went off with Giorgio but Jürgen (necron_99), Margitta (Peekabo0), Bummer and I went off on a small tarmac loop, ending up at the Valgrande spa which was very relaxing
Half of us went off with Giorgio to a refuge for the evening meal, the rest of us stayed in Pieve di Cadore, going to the restaurant that some went to on Sunday night. Really nice meal, with ingredients that the owner had collected with her own fair hands from the mountainside
On Thursday, even with Possu's help in straightening my gear lever, it still wasn't happy changing gear, so I decided to miss the gravel track and went off to do some tarmac passes with Spanish Bob. We went via Vigo di Cadore and over the Forcella Lavardet. I was still having issues, so I split company with Bob and headed back to the hotel via Sappada
That turned out to be my final night with the ADVRiders as most of us elected to split for home on the Friday, so we had another good pizza meal at a "nearby" restaurant
As I was leaving a day earlier than my tentative plans, I decided that I could hit some passes on the way back to France and then home, instead of highways all the way
I rode up to Cortina d'Ampezzo, then over the Falzarego, Valparola, Campolongo and di Sella passes. I passed through Ortisei (St Uhlrich) and then along the valley floor past Bressanone (Brixen) to Vipiteno (Sterzing). At Vipiteno, I turned off on to the Jaufren pass (passo Giovo) and that's where it all went pear-shaped. I was motoring along quite happily, staying in 2nd and 3rd gears mostly. I came out of a right-hand hairpin in 2nd, changed up to 3rd and leant over for a left-hander. Unfortunately, I must've been too far over on the corner and as I got around it there was a truck coming down the pass facing me! I got the bike upright and braked hard, but knew that I wasn't going to miss it. I collected the front left corner of the brand-new truck, and got tumbled off to the right-hand side. My eyes opened again about 10ft down the embankment on the side of the road between the trees and I clambered back up to the road. The bike was lying on it's right-hand side just beyond the front bumper of the truck so I must've been going very slowly when I hit. The ambulance and carabinieri turned up and I was taken to Vipiteno hospital for the first of umpteen x-rays. The only damage turned out to be a dislocated 5th metacarpal in my left hand (bone down the side of the palm from the little finger) and bruising (primarily to my left foot)
The bike ended up with various plastic breakages, the brake lever broken off about an inch or so from the pivot, the left pannier trashed and the forks twisted in the clamps. The pannier mountings didn't come out from the pannier frames though, which was impressive!
I stayed in 2 different hotels in Vipiteno (Sterzinger Moos and Pension Schneider - both nice places), and had to go back to the hospital on Saturday as I didn't feel right - another x-ray and then off to Brixen for a CAT scan. Nothing else found, so I returned to my hotel and waited for the travel insurance company to call back. And waited. And waited
On Monday I gave up waiting, so got a taxi to the crash repair place to get the last few bits and pieces, then up to the train station at the Brenner pass. A train to Innsbruck, and then change to one for Salzburg, and finally a flight to London Stansted airport, where my family picked me up and took me back to my hometown (where I was spending my 2nd week of the holiday anyway)
Got back to the island Sunday evening, and now fighting off a bug and recoveringAll the holiday photos Accident pics
All in all, at the time of the accident I was showing 2854kms ridden (1774 miles)
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